Spikes says SEC's defenses are strong because of their athletes

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- After watching several bowl games, Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes scoffs at Big 12 defenses when compared to their counterparts in the Southeastern Conference.

"I think the more athletic player is on offense in the Big 12," Spikes said. "That's the way I look at it. We have a lot of athletes in the SEC, but much more so on the defense."

Spikes said that players who typically end up as receivers or tight ends in the Big 12 end up playing defense in the SEC. It's held up when the conference's statistics are compared nationally.

In the SEC, 11 of the conference's units in terms of team defense rank in the top 36 nationally, including five of the nation's top 14 top defenses. Florida is third in the conference and ninth nationally.

The Big 12 has a similar skew toward offenses. Ten of the conference's units rank among the top 48 nationally in total offense, including six of the nation's 12 most potent offenses. Oklahoma leads the Big 12 in total offense and is third nationally.

But in terms of total defense, only Texas is ranked among the top 50 at 50th and seven of the defenses rank 86th or worse. Oklahoma is second in the conference and 63rd in total defense.

"It will be different for them when they see the speed of our defense and see our athletes," Spikes said. "They can watch films, but it's kind of different once we get on the field. You can't really simulate it. It's faster and will be really physical for them."