EA Sports likes Florida Football's defense better than their offense

EA Sports' unexpected ranking of Florida's football defense in their upcoming College Football 25 game sparks intrigue about the Gators' potential for the 2024 season.
Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun / USA

EA Sports has positioned the University of Florida's football defense as a force in the upcoming season. The video game giant's latest installment, College Football 25, ranks the Gators' defense 25th nationwide, a stark contrast to their on-field performance last year.

This optimistic outlook comes on the heels of a challenging 2023 season for Florida's defensive unit. Under the guidance of first-year defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong, the Gators struggled to find their footing, particularly in the latter half of the season. The loss of leading tackler and starting linebacker Shemar James to a dislocated kneecap only made things worse. Florida ultimately finished a disappointing 11th in the SEC for total defense, allowing an average of 382.3 yards per game.

In response to these defensive shortcomings, the Gators' coaching staff underwent significant restructuring. The secondary, defensive line, and linebacker coaching positions all saw changes, with Will Harris, Gerald Chatman, and Ron Roberts stepping into their respective roles.

EA Sports' unexpected ranking could be interpreted as a vote of confidence in these coaching changes. Alternatively, it might reflect the potential of Florida's returning defensive core. Six starters from last year's squad are set to return, including the standout duo of Shemar James and cornerback Jason Marshall Jr., both of whom have already garnered preseason All-SEC honors.

Interestingly, while EA Sports seems bullish on Florida's defense, the same cannot be said for their offensive unit. Despite returning eight starters, including key playmakers like quarterback Graham Mertz, running back Montrell Johnson Jr., and wide receiver Eugene Wilson III, the Gators' offense failed to crack the game's Top 25 rankings. This is somewhat surprising given Florida's respectable 6th place finish in SEC total offense last season, averaging 409.1 yards per game.

As the 2024 season approaches, all eyes will be on the Gators to see if they can live up to EA Sports' defensive expectations while potentially exceeding the more conservative offensive projections.