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Gators getting healthy on defense

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Lost in all the gnashing of teeth about Florida's offense is the fact that the Gators' defense took it to another level last week despite missing four regulars.

This is very much a championship defense and one that should be even better Saturday against Georgia with the probable return of four players who didn't play last week in the 29-19 win over Mississippi State.

Middle linebacker Brandon Spikes (groin) and defensive tackles Lawrence Marsh (ankle) and Jaye Howard (knee) all practiced Tuesday and should be able to play against the Bulldogs. Florida coach Urban Meyer is also hopeful that defensive tackle Justin Trattou may be able to return. Trattou (ruptured biceps tendon) is one of the Gators' best interior pass-rushers.

The Gators weren't pleased with how they played defensively two weeks ago in the 23-20 win over Arkansas. But they came back -- without four of their better players -- and held Mississippi State without an offensive touchdown. Mississippi State moved inside the Gators' 25-yard line only once all night.

So suffice it to say that this defense is good enough, especially now that it’s getting healthy, to carry the offense until it gets the kinks worked out.

Junior cornerback Joe Haden said that's what being a team is all about.

"The offense was there for us in 2007 when we were having problems," Haden said. "We're all in this together. Plus, it's not like the defense is perfect. I still don't think we've reached our potential on defense."