TAMPA, Fla. — There’s no need to delay what should be inevitable. Florida needs to hire Randy Shannon as its defensive coordinator after the job he did in Monday’s 30-3 over Iowa in the Outback Bowl.
Shannon served as the interim coordinator replacing Geoff Collins, who left the team in December to become the head coach at Temple.
McElwain has yet to say when he will name the Gators’ next defensive coordinator, although Shannon appears to be a leading candidate. For now, Shannon remains associate head coach, co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
Despite having eight starters out with injuries, Shannon called a great game as the Gators allowed the fewest points in a bowl game in school history.
Gators coach Jim McElwain credited Shannon for a masterful plan in his post-game comments.
“The plan (Shannon) put together,” McElwain said, “adding the safeties to the box, actually swapping coverages a little bit and putting linebackers on the edge and putting the corners back to play half field or middle third was something we hadn’t done before. But it kept them out of the run game a little bit and allowed us to put a little more beef up front. The guys executed it.”
Senior defensive tackle Joey Ivie tied his season high with 5 tackles and a quarterback hurry. Ivie said Shannon put his mark on Florida’s scheme and it made a noticeable difference.
“When Collins left and Shannon took over, we put in a different (plan). I mean, it was a similar defense but we changed it up quite a bit,” Ivie said. “Shannon is a great, great defensive coordinator. … He already had that mutual respect from everybody and we all bought in to what he wanted us to do. As you can see, it played out very well.”
Another upperclassman, redshirt junior safety Marcell Harris, excelled under Shannon, who was Miami’s defensive coordinator from 2001-06. Harris led the Gators with 9 tackles, including a goal-line stop on fourth down from the 3-yard line.
Shannon took charge of defensive backs ahead of the Outback Bowl. And Shannon, Harris said, “put us in the right spots to make plays.”
Safety Chauncey Gardner and linebacker Vosean Joseph, a Miami product who was recruited by Shannon, had breakout performances.
“I want to thank Coach Shannon,” Gardner said, “because he preached in our ear from the jump, ‘Just go out there, get set, keep your eyes up and read your keys.’ ”
Gardner earned MVP honors with 2 interceptions. Joseph, who like Gardner is a true freshman, made his first career start and had a season-high 6 tackles.
“I was so proud of those guys. I can’t even express it enough,” Ivie said of the freshmen. “This bowl is huge not for the seniors but for the guys coming back. I think that they set the tone for next year.
“I don’t think there’s going to be much of a drop-off. Great coaches, we’ve got some great younger guys and you just continue to develop. I think there’s a lot of great potential for this Florida program.”
The biggest vote of confidence came from walk-on Cristian Garcia, who was coached by Shannon the past two years. With four linebackers injured, Garcia started against Iowa and played well with 5 tackles made.
“I was real comfortable,” Garcia said. “Coach Shannon tweaked (some) little things. I thought he did a great job. He’s so overqualified to just be a linebackers coach. I mean, he’s coached me up from being a walk-on now to being a starting SEC linebacker.
“Two years ago I was working video for the Gators and now I’m a starting SEC linebacker. So he’s a pretty good coach and I’m happy for him. I hope he keeps the job.”