Utah Defense Looking For Better Results Against Florida In 2023
Aug 30, 2023, 10:11 AM
SALT LAKE CITY – Last season, Utah football lost a heartbreaker in the Swamp, 29-26. This season, the Ute defense is determined to do their part to make sure Utah doesn’t lose to Florida again.
Sloppy play- particularly on defense was a main culprit in Utah’s loss and team captains Karene Reid and Cole Bishop are doing what they can to ensure the defense does not repeat that performance.
Between having one more year of experience as a unit and emphasizing tackling a little more in fall camp, Utah is hopeful for better results once the clock strikes zero on Thursday night that will preserve one of the longest active home win streaks in the country.
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Utah Defense Getting Back To Their Hard-Nosed Roots
Last year in Gainesville the Utah defense missed 27 tackles. That number was about triple what the Utes defense typically misses in a game. (Utah usually averages between 8 and 9 missed tackles per game.)
Part of the issue Utah faced last season was youth and/or new faces along the front seven. Another issue was taking it a little too easy practicing tackling in fall camp to preserve bodies. Finally, it would be ignorant if it went unsaid, but Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson was going to make people miss regardless of the first two points, but Utah didn’t do themselves any favors in trying to mitigate his athletic ability.
This year is going to be a little different. Richardson has moved on to the NFL and will be replaced by Graham Mertz who is a capable quarterback, but not near the athletic problem. Utah’s front seven is also returning a lot of experience and they took more time to work on tackling in camp.
Add in the hostile crowd will be for Utah and not against them along with the motivating factor of wanting to prove last year is not who Utah’s defense is to a conglomerate that doesn’t typically get to see them up close often, and you have a recipe for a potentially better outcome.
“In practice we are tackling more than we used to,” Bishop said. “Whether that’s people or dummies- you know, just working on your technique. There is a lot that goes into making a tackle- technique, angles- things like that. We’re just trying to perfect that and be ready to get them down on Thursday.”
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Everyone knows the Gators will be bringing in some elite talent Thursday night to Rice-Eccles Stadium. That’s not even a question. So will Utah. The key, however, will be for Utah’s elite talent- particularly on defense, to play to its capabilities which is something it didn’t do in game one last season against Florida.
“Just playing clean football,” Reid said. “Watching in the film room and clean up our assignment. Key word is clean on that.”
Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on X, Instagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports
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