Quinn Ready For Games To Begin

Count at least one defensive coordinator that is tired of practicing and ready to match wits with a new adversary. Florida's Dan Quinn has spent the last dozen years coaching in the NFL and made the move for moments like Saturday night in The Swamp. Quinn is so ready to get things started and believes his defenders are ready to out to work everything they have learned with the new staff.

It is just different in the NFL. Players can meet with coaches and go through drills anytime. There is unlimited time in meetings. The players in the NFL don't have the obstacle of class time to interfere with their preparation for game time… and they get to play preseason games to knock some rust off.

Colleges have to battle each other for a month and finally September rolls around and they can knock heads with a new opponent.

Florida's new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn can't take it any longer.

"I am so excited to get started here," Quinn told the media gathered to hear him talk Wednesday night. "The whole purpose for coming here was to work with Will (Muschamp) and get started and now that the season is finally here I can't wait.

"I am certainly looking forward to getting going and playing in The Swamp, it is my first time too."

According to Quinn, Will Muschamp is also ready.

"I would say he's more excited than anxious," Quinn said of the head coach. "We have had a good camp in preparation for the whole season and the calls we will need all the way through. He has a real passion for the game and I think you guys can feel that, and the players can too. He is out coaching real hard with the guys on the grass, and they feel that too."

For the new coordinator he has spent most of his time in the NFL walking the sidelines, grabbing his players when needed, looking them in the eyes, and getting his point across. That isn't going to change as he walks around the Florida sideline.

"I have mostly been on the field," he said. "I like to talk to the guys and make the adjustments right there, so that is what I will be doing."

He really likes what he has gotten from his defenders this fall. He is starting to see the traits he and Muschamp want out of the group that some may have pegged as soft coming in.

"Through training camp… it was a really good camp," he started. "There was toughness and finishing, it is a big package and big playbook. Now after we installed everything we can pick and choose the different packages for each ball game. I am encouraged by the way the guys are approaching the game and each practice. We are physical and fast and that is how we want to play. I am anxious to get started and get going onto the season. "I want us to be a team that is mentally and physically tough. I hope when you see the tape you see that these guys are really physical and play with great effort and goes after the ball."

The new Florida coaches on both sides of the ball have found that as a whole, this team has been really pushing to be better, almost to a point where it is surprising.

"The cool part about these guys is that they are eager, willing to learn, and are into it," Quinn said. "They want more information, they want to learn the technique, they want to watch the film and that part has been very fun. You can feel the energy of some of these young guys and they are so anxious to get started and get playing. Now that game week is here they can sense a heightened intensity."

Youth and inexperience are two key words you will hear a bunch of early in the season as it pertains to this Florida football team. On defense there is a large nucleus of sophomores that are going to be asked to play most of the major roles on that side of the ball. Quinn believes they can and will get it done.

"We have some really talented young guys that need to play and establish some experience," he said. "I am looking forward to seeing them pull through because I think the leadership capabilities are there."

Up front is likely the biggest improvement the Gator Nation will see in the defense. With that in mind, there is a bit of the unknown, because as we mentioned, three sophomores are listed as starters for the first game.

Of the upfront guys, the interior tackles seem to be the strength. A group that includes Dominique Easley, Jaye Howard, Omar Hunter, Leon Orr, and sometimes Sharrif Floyd are going to be versatile and aggressive, likely much more so than a year ago.

"One of the good things about the big guys inside is that all the guys are playing more than one position," Quinn said. "Some are playing nose tackle and defensive tackle, some are playing defensive tackle and defensive end. I am pleased with the progress of those four guys. Having the ability to make them interchangeable adds value to the defense I am encouraged with where they are at."

Getting a pass rush is very important and something that was very lacking a year ago. To that end, they moved Floyd outside and he starts there. Ronald Powell is the other end or BUCK in this defense. Senior William Green will play a lot and then SAM / BUCK Lerentee McCray is a guy that has impressed as a pass rusher as well.

"The guys from the outside that have provided for us have been Green, McCray, and Powell," Quinn said. "Inside certainly, Easley and Floyd stood out as the interior rushers and we are anxious to get those guys going on third down here."

Quinn also said that the Gators have cross trained up front a few players will be moved around up front depending on the situation and opponent on the field. But, injuries are another reason to have the next guy ready.

"You want to put out the best guys and sometimes it might just be for the opponent that you are playing," he said. "If it is a big run team we would like to have a bigger team on the field at times. If there is a nickel situation we would like to have more rushers. Other times if there is an injury, now you have cross trained a guy to play two spots. He can step in and keep rolling. I think that is important part of it too."

Floyd will be cross trained at end and defensive tackle.

"He's picked it up real well," Quinn said of the cross training. "We play him at defensive end in our regular package and at defensive tackle in our nickel package. He has done a terrific job with that."

The SAM linebacker spot is a position that will be asked to do many things and actually is a compliment to the BUCK. The two will almost always be on the field at the same time, and the two will play off of one another to disguise which one may be rushing the line of scrimmage and which will be filling a gap or playing in coverage. McCray is the starter at the position right now.

"He is guy that kind of plays two positions as well," Quinn said. "We see him as an outside linebacker and also as a rush end."

The Gators have also been building depth with the other two linebacker spots with starters Jelani Jenkins ant WILL and Jon Bostic at MIKE. Michael Taylor has been backing up Bostic while Dee Finley has had a great fall camp and is the backup behind Jenkins.

"As the inside linebackers go with Jelani and Jon, and we have had good experience with Michael Taylor and Dee being inside and those guys have played both spots inside," Quinn said. "Sometimes we played one at MIKE and one at WILL and we feel it was best for us to get balanced and more experienced in the system.

Bostic has been a real strong leader this fall and the coaches are putting the play calling on him in terms of relating what the staff wants called on the field.

"Jon will call it and make the checks at the line," Quinn said. "In our system that is what the MIKE does and Jon has done a good job with that.

"I have a lot of confidence in him. I think he has a high football IQ. He gets concepts fast. He has done a good job through training camp making the calls and the checks, he is off to a really good start."

The secondary may be somewhat in flux. They are going to need guys to do different things and so they are busy figuring out the best capabilities of the each individual in the secondary.

"I think that is what usually happens," Quinn said when asked about not having definite starters in the defensive backfield at certain spots. "Usually there are some guys that establish roles. We evaluate as it is going, and if this guy is playing the best at nickel and this one at safety… that is what usually happens early in the season. When you have a bunch of guys that haven't played a whole lot sometimes the roles will emerge as we move forward."

Two true freshmen have a serious chance of starting in the first game. Quinn says they aren't going to put more pressure on the front end of the defense just because there might be some youngsters patrolling the secondary.

"It's our whole defense playing," he said. "There is no more pressure on those guys than on our nose tackle or our safety. WE are all in it together and that is how I coach the team and they know that. Whether it's one freshman, no freshmen, young players, or old players, it is one collective group and I firmly believe in that."

One of those freshmen has stood out all fall. Marcus Roberson is likely to start at one corner position and Quinn says he has a lot of physical gifts that make it easier for him to play the position.

"With corners at times, when a guy has speed and length, it helps you as a cover guy," Quinn said. "He has some of the traits to help you in coverage. He is still young and developing, but I am really looking forward to seeing him come into the season. He's made an impression on me."

Another one of those sophomores we mentioned earlier is Matt Elam. The strong safety has made a huge impression on the staff and has been the most consistent player in the secondary this fall. Look for the staff to lean on Elam.

"One of the things you look at in a safety is a guy that can make plays on the ball," Quinn said. "It was in my early evaluation of Matt, that he was a guy that was not only a good tackler and a good player, he had football savvy and could really take the ball away. As a defensive player, that is a critical skill to have. It adds so much value to the team. Once I got a chance to see him play it showed up that this guy had something pretty good."

No wonder this guy is ready to get things started.

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