NCF Nation: Lawrence Marsh
Lost in all the gnashing of teeth about Florida's offense is the fact that the Gators' defense took it to another level last week despite missing four regulars.
This is very much a championship defense and one that should be even better Saturday against Georgia with the probable return of four players who didn't play last week in the 29-19 win over Mississippi State.
Middle linebacker Brandon Spikes (groin) and defensive tackles Lawrence Marsh (ankle) and Jaye Howard (knee) all practiced Tuesday and should be able to play against the Bulldogs. Florida coach Urban Meyer is also hopeful that defensive tackle Justin Trattou may be able to return. Trattou (ruptured biceps tendon) is one of the Gators' best interior pass-rushers.
The Gators weren't pleased with how they played defensively two weeks ago in the 23-20 win over Arkansas. But they came back -- without four of their better players -- and held Mississippi State without an offensive touchdown. Mississippi State moved inside the Gators' 25-yard line only once all night.
So suffice it to say that this defense is good enough, especially now that it’s getting healthy, to carry the offense until it gets the kinks worked out.
Junior cornerback Joe Haden said that's what being a team is all about.
"The offense was there for us in 2007 when we were having problems," Haden said. "We're all in this together. Plus, it's not like the defense is perfect. I still don't think we've reached our potential on defense."
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
We check in with the Internal Affairs department from around the SEC:
1. Tackle by committee: Florida is banged up in its defensive line heading into Saturday's game at Florida State, which means you could see all sorts of combinations at tackle. The Gators will be without backup tackle Matt Patchan, who has a sprained knee, and it's unknown how much starting nose tackle Lawrence Marsh will be able to play after spraining his MCL last week against The Citadel. Sophomore Terron Sanders will move in as the starter at tackle, and if Marsh can't play, junior Brandon Antwine will start at nose. Sophomore Torrey Davis is moving from tackle to nose to provide depth at that position, but a number of players may see action at both interior positions against the Seminoles. Redshirt freshman Jaye Howard is another one that will see time at tackle behind Sanders.
2. Loading the line: It sounds simple enough, although not a lot of teams have made it work against Georgia Tech. But look for Georgia to do everything it can (including putting everybody in the box) to take Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer out of the game as early as possible. This is a big game for the Georgia linebackers. They have to tackle well and play with some discipline against Georgia Tech's option offense. Georgia as a defense has not been consistent with its tackling this season, and stopping the run has also been an issue of late. The Bulldogs have given up 185 yards or more on the ground in three of their last four games, and the Yellow Jackets are fourth in the nation in rushing at 270.8 yards per game.
3. Adams back in: Vanderbilt is searching for anything right now to get its offense going. Coming off one of their worst offensive showings of the season in a 20-10 loss to Tennessee (where they had just 25 yards of total offense at the half), the Commodores will go back to Mackenzi Adams at quarterback this Saturday against Wake Forest. Adams at least gave Vanderbilt a pulse in the passing game in the second half last week after Chris Nickson threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown and also lost a fumble near midfield. Nickson had started the last two games and played well in the win at Kentucky. But a shoulder injury from earlier in the season has limited his ability to throw the ball. The only thing that could hold Adams back this weekend is a knee injury he suffered against Tennessee, although Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said he didn't believe it was serious.
4. Kodi to the rescue: The truth is that Auburn's coaches aren't going to ask sophomore quarterback Kodi Burns to go out and win the game for the Tigers on Saturday when they travel to Bryant-Denny Stadium for only the seventh time in this storied rivalry. If anything, it will be just the opposite. Burns' directive is not to lose the game, and when Auburn has its chances, he has to be poised enough and savvy enough to capitalize on those chances. Punting the football away won't be such a bad thing Saturday against Alabama. Burns is playing much more settled now that it's clear he's Auburn's quarterback. He hasn't thrown an interception in his last two games. That's after throwing six in his previous three games.
5. Then there was Jefferson: LSU coach Les Miles hasn't said so officially, but it appears that true freshman Jordan Jefferson will be the Tigers' third different starting quarterback this season when LSU faces Arkansas on Friday in Little Rock. Jarrett Lee injured his ankle against Ole Miss and didn't practice Monday. Andrew Hatch, who started the first three games, remains out with a leg injury. Look for the coaches to give Jefferson more of the playbook than he had against Ole Miss. He's always a threat to run and showed flashes of being a good passer in that game, too. He just needs experience, and given the Tigers' struggles at quarterback this season, he probably deserves more playing time than he's gotten to this point. It's pretty clear that he's LSU's quarterback of the future.