Florida football: 5 questions the Gators must answer in 2020

Kyle Trask of the Florida Gators. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Kyle Trask of the Florida Gators. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /
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Florida football
Florida football (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

3. Is the front seven capable of filling predecessors’ shoes?

Just as the secondary has big shoes to fill with the loss of Henderson, that’s even more so the case when it comes to the front seven. With the NFL departures of Jonathan Greenard and David Reese II, the Gators lost their team leaders in sacks and total tackles, respectively. That’s a large amount of production to replace and how defensive coordinator Todd Grantham fares in trying to do so will be critically important.

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In terms of replacing Greenard and Jabari Zuniga, the guy at the forefront will most likely be — ironically enough — a player who was initially suiting up for rival Georgia, Brenton Cox Jr. He’s an explosive player off of the edge and should bolster the pass rush in a big way, likely leading the team in sacks and helping Florida again be at the top of the SEC or near it in that category.

But the big question is what happens outside of Cox. While the secondary has upside, it’s also a group that may need some time to come into its own. That will necessitate the front seven being a dominant force in the trenches and in the middle of the field.

There is undeniable potential in this group from 5-star freshman Gervon Dexter to linebackers Mohamoud Diabate and Amari Burney to senior Tedarrell Slaton. However, that group must all enter the fray in an increased capacity from what they offered to the Gators defense last season and be the anchors on that side of the ball. If they can’t accomplish that, it’s hard to imagine the defense won’t be taking a step back.