Muschamp will Lean on Defensive Front

In a season ahead that is full of uncertainties for Florida head coach Will Muschamp and his Gator football team, the man in charge thinks he can rely on the guys up front when it comes time to take the field in September. With a defensive roster really shy on big time experience, the guys in the middle and up front are going to play an important part in the team's success.

In his first year at the helm at Florida, Will Muschamp will face quite a bit of unknown. However, he has had five months on the job to try and get a feel for the side of the ball that he has always been in charge of.

A secondary that will feature three or four new starters is going to have to rely on help from the guys in the front to make something happen and Muschamp thinks that is where his guys have the ammunition to be tough.

Friday he talked about that part of the defense that he believes is the strength heading into the 2011 season, a group of five defensive tackles.

"I would say up front with the production of Dominique Easley and Sharrif Floyd and the playing history of Jaye Howard and Omar Hunter (and then) Leon Orr," Muschamp said. "I think we have five guys there that I feel comfortable with playing in the SEC. I would say inside up front. We (just) don't have any depth, so we can't afford any injuries."

Easley and Floyd closed spring as the two starters inside but combined, have zero starts among them. The two played sporadically early in 2010 before a late season push saw them on the field a little more. Still, they don't have that much experience between them.

Jaye Howard and Omar Hunter both have a tremendous amount of experience, and Howard looks to push Easley and Floyd up front for the most playing time. The two will also play a lot.

Orr redshirted in 2010 and practiced on offense. He had a solid spring and enough so that he warranted some praise for Muschamp.

In the middle of the defense and directly behind the tackles are a couple of linebackers with some experience and starting time between them. They too will offer up some muster for the 2011 defense.

"The two linebackers in Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins are two guys that I think showed a lot of play making ability, toughness, and instincts at the position. Again, depth is an issue, but I would say as far as play making ability that I feel very comfortable with in the SEC right now."

Of the seven players listed, Howard is a senior, Hunter and Bostic are juniors, the rest are underclassmen. It is a group long on ability and overall short on experience, but Muschamp likes what they bring.

"They have played in games," he said. "I just look at guys that I think can be productive players and really good football players and think have the mental toughness to walk out in our stadium and handle it."

Come September, we will see if this group is enough.

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