Quinn Evaluates the Defensive Line

Dan Quinn's expertise as a defensive line coach in the NFL played a big role in why Florida head coach Will Muschamp wanted Quinn to join him in Gainesville. With only one game left in his first year at Florida, Quinn continues to push the defensive line for improvement this season. The first move came in sliding Sharrif Floyd back inside to defensive tackle.

The move was made in some capacity in Florida's last game of the regular season against the Seminoles. Sharrif Floyd played mostly at defensive tackle in that game, the position where he made a big impact at during his freshman season in 2010. Quinn and the Florida staff elected to slide him outside to defensive end at the beginning of the 2011 season. Now as Florida goes through preparations for Monday's Gator Bowl, Floyd has seen time back on the interior of the line.

That isn't the only place he will play, but Quinn likes what he brings from up the middle.

"I think it's going to depend on the situations," Dan Quinn said after Thursday's practice at Jacksonville University. "In this bowl practice, we've played him a lot inside and some at defensive end. It'll just be by the flow of the game. Fortunately for him, he has had reps at both spots. When it's a running team, sometimes you like to have a bigger base end out there so you can play strong."

A big reason for Floyd starting the season at defensive end was the lack of depth on the Gators' roster at the position. Florida has struggled at getting to the quarterback for the past two seasons, so the coaches were hoping Floyd's pass rush ability would help off the edge.

It took him time to get used to the position, and Floyd didn't record a sack in the regular season. He did make five tackles for a loss in 2011.

When Floyd is inside, the Gators have some options to replace him at defensive end. Ronald Powell has come off the opposite edge for most of the season, but it could be senior William Green that has a breakout game with more playing time.

"It adds some elements with Powell, and Willie Green will be more of a factor as a rusher," Quinn said about the defensive ends without Floyd. "(Kedric) Johnson is one that will factor in as well. Those are the guys that we're going with when we got to nickel and move Sharrif Floyd inside. It adds some speed to our team when we do that, which is something that's much needed."

Dominique Easley will miss the game after having ACL surgery earlier this month to correct an injury he suffered against Florida State. Depth is an issue all over the defensive line, but Floyd's move should help inside.

Quinn will also lean on redshirt junior Omar Hunter inside. Hunter's play came on near the end of his fourth year on campus, and that progress has continued through bowl practice.

"He has had a really good bowl preparation," Quinn said. "He plays strong and he plays square. He is one of the guys that has jumped out to me in the last few weeks of ball. I'm looking forward to him playing in this game."

Quinn has a unique perspective on Florida senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard. He should be the first Florida player off the board in the NFL Draft, and while the Florida defensive coordinator was unsure where he would be selected, Quinn has a good idea what NFL teams can expect from Howard.

"Inside is where I see him, playing nose tackle and three-technique. I thought he has improved as the season went on. I thought from last year to this year it was important for him to get his weight down and his conditioning up so he could finish on plays. He has shown that on tape. He's a real strong guy that can anchor. I see him playing in a 3-4 scheme at the defensive end spot and in a 4-3 scheme at the defensive tackle spot where he'll play the three(-technique)."

Howard decided to come back to Florida for his fifth year of eligibility because he wanted to be consistent. After mulling over the NFL Draft following the 2010 season, Howard knew there was still multiple ways he could improve his game. With Quinn and Bryant Young having experience coaching and playing in the NFL respectively, Howard knew he could learn a lot from both of them.

Quinn thinks he has answered that questions NFL staffs could have about his consistency.

"I think he has in my mind," Quinn said. "When the scouts and coaches go through the whole tape, which is usually what you do when you're really interested in a guy. You go through the whole tape, and he was one of our most consistent performers. That was something he really needed to address, and he certainly did."

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