The college football offseason is in full swing, and the Gators have completed two spring training sessions so far. Since the end of the fall season, Florida has suffered losses on the player and coaching side.
The Gators traded from four-star quarterback Jaden Rashada on Jan. 20, sparking controversy over the alleged NIL deal he was offered. Rashada eventually committed himself to his father’s alma mater in the state of Arizona.
Most recently, former Gators co-defensive coordinator Patrick Toney decided to leave Florida for a position with the Arizona Cardinals. Tight end coach William Peagler also joined the Cardinals’ staff. In addition, wide receivers coach Keary Colbert left for a wide receiver coaching position with the Denver Broncos.
The changes have altered fans’ expectations for the upcoming season. Gators linebacker Antwaun Powell commented on the defensive side of the ball and some new faces on the field.
The #alligators Make the relationship official.
Austin Armstrong will be the country’s youngest DC for the Gators next year. https://t.co/PskvMKgc0f pic.twitter.com/PtiusJB4T0
— Nick de la Torre (@delatorre) February 27, 2023
The Gators are coming off a season in which their defense allowed 28.8 points per game, ranking 87th on the FBS. The team comes into this season adding head coach Billy Napier’s intended replacement for Toney, Austin Armstrong. Armstrong spent the last two years as the defensive coordinator at Southern Miss, beginning his tenure as the youngest defensive coordinator in the FBS. During his tenure, Southern Miss ranked sixth in the Sun Belt in goal defense, third nationally in tackles for loss, fifth in sacks, and seventh in interceptions. Powell spoke about what he thinks Coach Armstrong is bringing to the table.
Florida’s total defense ranked 97th on the FBS this season. Additionally, Florida ranked 98th in team sacks and 100th in rushing defense. The stats point to immediate improvements needed for the Gators heading into the 2023 season. One bright spot for the Gators was their ability to win back football. Florida ranked third in the FBS for fumble recoveries with 15, and in the 2022 season, Powell was responsible for a team high with three forced fumbles. He offered his thoughts on how Florida can improve its defense in the fall.
Memphis defensive tackle Cam’Ron Jackson and Louisville defensive lineman Caleb Banks are two transfers looking to make an impact on the Gators. Jackson comes to Florida with three years of experience and fresh from his best-stats season of 2022. Jackson recorded 41 tackles and a sack but also impacted the game outside of stats, drafting duplicate teams and showing his ability at quarterback to rush . Banks arrives as a redshirt sophomore, measuring 6ft 7 and 300 pounds. Although Banks has limited playing time at Louisville, he is expected to play an important role on defense. Powell spoke about what these two bring to the table.