Five Guys To Watch --- Defense

The Gator defense will not be nearly as far removed from what we've seen in the past than the offense will be. Will Muschamp and Dan Quinn are both form the Nick Saban school in which the outside guys up front are equally likely to rush the passer or drop into coverage. Much of that depends on the other three guys up front to control things, which frees up other guys to make plays.

We don't know a ton about the returning players on the defense, but there certainly are several key areas of concern and that's what I'll try to focus on in analyzing/evaluating Saturday's play and the team heading into the fall.

Leon Orr ---- Orr is the one guy on this team with the potential to give Florida a space-eating nose guard. If he does that, it makes life much easier for the rest of the guys. Orr has the size (6-5, 315) and strength and from what I've seen just walking back from practices seems to be a pretty good shape. Orr versus Harrison in the trenches might be the best battle on the field Saturday.

Chris Martin ---- He was a late addition for the Gators in last year's recruiting class, leaving the University of California (Berkley) without ever playing a game, but little has been said of him this spring. Last fall Martin was reportedly a terror on the scout team but he has not made that kind of impression to this stage of spring ball. Saturday would be a good time for Martin to step up and give the Gators the potential of having him on one size and Ronald Powell on the other.

Josh at Safety ---- This is my only combo entry with Evans and Shaw competing for the starting job at free safety. Evans is the more experienced of the two having played in every game last season and intercepting a pass against Vanderbilt. The junior from New Jersey has good size (6-1, 190) and speed. Shaw on the other hand is a little taller (6-3) and might be faster, but spent his freshman season as a corner and is just learning the position. This is a key position to get settled.

Gerald Christian ---- Another position change with the potential to have a major impact on the 2011 team. Christian moved from TE to LB, and while he continues to do a little of both there's little doubt he can make more of an impact on the defensive side of the ball. I saw a good bit of video of Christian in high school and liked the defensive plays more. He could give Florida much needed size at the "Sam" LB and might even grow into a DE in time. Would love to see him wreak a little havoc Saturday.

Dominique Easley ---- If Orr is the key guy at Nose Tackle to be the Gators space eater, Easley is the cat quick Nose Guard who can split blockers and become disruptive. Easley went through some of the typical rookie frustrations last year playing in just six games and registering four tackles. The 6-2, 280-pounder from Staten Island needs to show more explosiveness on the field to warrant a larger role in the fall.

I'm curious about the young LB who will finally get a chance to show something as well as underperforming veterans Earl Okine and William Green, but those five (really six) are the key guys for me.

How ‘bout you?


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