The Gator defense has lost defensive tackle Brandon Antwine and Javier Estopinan for the rest of the year. Antwine had been struggling with a back injury and was hospitalized for 10 days with a back injury recently. He only had 7 tackles in 4 games on the year, but when in the game he brought experience and helped to clog up the middle. The Gators started out stopping the run very well, but have been run over recently, while he has been out or not played much. While the change in run defense is not all because of his loss, it has had an effect on a defense that has not been very good this year.
Estopinan tore his ACL in Saturdays loss against the Bulldogs. The loss of Estopinan may hurt worse than Antwine, because Estopinan had not missed a game this year, and has been a mainstay up the middle to help stop the run. Estopinan had 19 tackles and one sack so far this season, but his ability to help push the lineman back and clog the middle were even more important. The Gator defensive tackles have not been great this year, but to lose these two puts the Gators in a very bad spot.
With Estopinan and Antwine out and freshman John Brown still unable to play due to academic reasons, the Gators have only 3 healthy defensive tackles on the roster. These players will need to step up to take the place of the injured players and Urban may need to try and use some of his young freshman, like Carlos Dunlap to help make up for the loss. One of the problems in the SEC with defensive lineman is that it is very physical up front and hot, which leads to guys getting tired early and teams need other fresh bodies to come in to help stop the run. One option that has been thrown around is having a three man front this weekend against Vandy. The Gator defense has not been good this year and these injuries make them even worse. They still have tough games left on their schedule and some of these young players are going to need to grow up real fast.