Is the Florida Gator Defense Vastly Underrated?

brandon nealCorrespondent IMay 23, 2009

MIAMI - JANUARY 08:  Manuel Johnson #1 of the Oklahoma Sooners can't make a catch along the sideline as he is hit by Major Wright #21 of the Florida Gators during the FedEx BCS National Championship game at Dolphin Stadium on January 8, 2009 in Miami, Florida. Joe Haden #5 of the Gators trails on the play. FLorida won 24-14.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

First and for most the play in the picture above is one of my all time favriot plays in UF history. It was a tone setter. When it happend, the Gator nation and I, who were packed inside the O dome to watch the game live went nuts. We all jumped up screaming "Welcome to the SEC baby etc!!" Ahh good times were those.

When people around the country hear the words Florida football. The thing that first pops into there heads is probabally Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin and that fast and furious spread that UF runs down in the swamp.

Maybe i am wrong. But In my opinion it seemed to me that the defense never gotten its due praise. Which is crazy considering the turn around from the year before. The previous year we couldn't stop the rush or the pass. I remember that night mare of a season very well. 

Last year was a different story. UF faced all kinds of offensive systems. We played the lightning of College football aka Oklahoma. Then we played the power and thunder game of Bama. Which is the best of both offensive worlds. Besides Ole Miss UF shut down any and all that stood opposite the defense.

I did a little research and dug through the numbers and found out thanks to USA today sports some suprising information.

UF Pass Defense No. 3 in the nation

UF Run Defense No. 15

UF Scoring Defense No. 4

UF Turn Over Margin No. 2

UF Overall Defense No. 9

These are all drastic turn arounds from the previous season. Last season UF was literally run over by running backs and was burned deep by the Wide Receiver's play after play. I remember very vividly that little midget Mike Hart talking all that smack in the Outback Bowl.

This year UF is returning 10 or its 11 starters. One can only wonder how many Parade All Americans UF will be fielding by the end of this season.

You have Brandon Spikes, Joe Haden, Amahd Black, Major Wright, Janoris Jenkins, Carlos Dunlap, Brandon Hicks, Justin Doe, Ryan Stamper. Not to mention all the five star talent waiting in the wings. Will Hill, Omar Hunter, and Jelani Jenkins. I know I'm leaving out a few names as well.

The biggest example of how awesome UF's Defense is was the National Championship game. Oklahoma was a team that was thought to possibly be the best in the history of college football. That's until they played the Gators.

The Sooners came in riding a five game streak of 60 or more points. This was a team that threw for over 14,673 feet. that's damn near three miles of passing. UF devoured them.

When it was all said and done UF made Sam look very average when playing against a defense that at the very least has a clue when it comes to defending the pass. Not only did UF proved that the big 12 is soft. UF proved that Defense wins championships.