ESPN’s ranking only inflames ‘DB U.’ debate between two self-assured SEC rivals

LSU and Florida haven’t played a down of football yet this season but they’ve been battling for the DBU (Defensive Backs University) moniker for months now.

ESPN’s Edward Aschoff looked to settle the debate with his SEC preseason power rankings and one fan base certainly won’t be happy. Aschoff gave the Gators the edge over the Tigers in his rankings, in part because of the hit LSU took this week when safety Jalen Mills broke his fibula.

Here’s what Aschoff wrote about each secondary:

1. Florida: The Gators lost very little from a secondary that ranked third in the SEC in pass-defense effiency (107.4). This unit is headlined by All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, who has defended 30 passes with six interceptions in two years. Florida’s coaches feel they can confidently rotate seven guys in the secondary, including SEC All-Freshman cornerback Jalen Tabor, nickelback Brian Poole and safety Keanu Neal, who combined to defend 30 passes with eight interceptions last season.

2. LSU: The Tigers are convinced they own the “DB U” banner that Florida claimed earlier this year. LSU has an argument after leading the conference in pass-defense efficiency last season (101.6). Excellent cover corner Tre’Davious White (two interceptions) and up-and-coming safety Jamal Adams (66 tackles) lead a deep secondary. Junior Rickey Jefferson must replace star safety Jalen Mills (fracture fibula) for a few weeks, but he has played in 20 games in two years.

Here are Aschoff’s complete SEC preseason position rankings for the secondary:

1. Florida

2. LSU

3. Ole Miss

4. Georgia

5. Tennessee

6. Arkansas

7. Missouri

8. Alabama

9. Auburn

10. South Carolina

11. Kentucky

12. Mississippi State

13. Vanderbilt

14. Texas A&M

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