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Sunday January 24th, 2021 10:15AM

Florida tabs veteran SEC coach McGriff to coach secondary

By The Associated Press
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida announced the hiring of Wesley McGriff as its secondary coach Saturday, replacing two assistants coach Dan Mullen fired after the team's worst defensive season in more than a hundred years.

Mullen parted ways with secondary coaches Ron English and Torrian Gray last week.

“His track record of preparing players for the NFL and his success coaching at every level speaks for itself," Mullen said in a statement. "His energy and tireless effort in recruiting will be an asset to our defensive staff.”

McGriff spent the last two seasons as defensive backs coach at Auburn. Before that, he was defensive coordinator at Mississippi (2016-18).

He had previous stints at Auburn (2015) and Ole Miss (2012). He also spent time with the NFL's New Orleans Saints (2013-15), Vanderbilt (2011), Miami (2007-10), Baylor (2003-06), Kentucky (2001-02), Eastern Kentucky (2000), Kentucky State (1995-99) and Savannah State (1990-94).

The 10th-ranked Gators (8-4) allowed 30.8 points a game in 2020, their most since giving up 41.2 over six games in 1917, and the secondary was a significant part of the problem.

English coached Florida’s safeties the past three seasons, and Gray coached cornerbacks the last two.

Florida surrendered 52 and 55 points, respectively, in consecutive losses to top-ranked Alabama and No. 8 Oklahoma to close out the year. The Sooners racked up a whopping 684 yards — the most any team has ever gained against Florida — in the Cotton Bowl. Florida’s previous high was 629 yards in a 62-24 loss to Nebraska in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl.

It was the third time this season that Florida’s porous defense surrendered more than 600 yards. The unit allowed 613 in the opener at Ole Miss and 605 to the Crimson Tide in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

The defense yielded 35 or more points in half of its 12 games, twice as many times as it did during defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s first two seasons in Gainesville. The unit ended with consecutive 50-point outings, the first time Florida had done that in back-to-back games since 1917.

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