Quinn Happy With Defensive Retention

Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn realized early this spring that things were different. After going through spring and fall practices last year while trying to install the defense, there isn't as much teaching in year two. The players have retained complex information from the scheme and less detailed information such as the day-to-day part of head coach Will Muschamp's program.

"On the first practice, I remember walking back in with coach and saying, ‘hey, what a difference a year makes.' From practice one from when we first got here to putting in a new package and then now having the familiarity, not only of the players but them knowing the system and us knowing them so it's now a second year in," Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said after Wednesday's practice.

"For the college guys English 101 they did it, now we're in to 102. And we get more defined and more skilled at our techniques and just playing the game."

On the defensive side of the ball, the added familiarity with the system is made easier with so many returning players. The only lost starter from last year's team was defensive tackle Jaye Howard.

The added familiarity on the defensive staff would be beneficial no matter how many starters were back. However, with as many returning players, it made the learning curve that much shorter at the beginning of spring practice.

Quinn said it was obvious from the first spring meeting that the recall wouldn't be a problem.

"When we're all on the same page faster you're able to communicate that kind of information back and forth and the dialogue is easier," Quinn said. "So I think it's certainly more efficient."

Quinn forgot about what an advantage that would be. After the grind that the first year was for Muschamp's staff, they were all relieved to see how easily things came back for the players.

"Bringing in some of the new players up to speed, and I'm sure we'll go through it again at training camp, but I certainly liked the recall the players had," Quinn said.

POWELL EMERGING: Muschamp has spent the early part of the spring raving about BUCK linebacker Ronald Powell. Quinn echoed that statement, saying that Powell's work ethic in the weight room and focus off the field before spring practice started has fueled his spring performance.

"I think one of the things in the offseason he really has had a bunch of focus," Quinn said. "Where he came in to say, I'm going to really work at it and to his credit offseason went that way. Here's the things you need to work on and went that way, so I think it's kind of almost like a continuation of that where his work from the offseason program started right away and went into the spring practice. I've been real encouraged by what we've seen, and I know the guy is really focused and determined to play as well as he can."

Powell was third on the team with nine tackles for a loss last season and led the team with six sacks. He also added three quarterback hurries and one forced fumble.

It would have been a solid season for most players. However, Powell came to Gainesville surrounded with hype. As he heads into his junior season this fall, there is still more he can prove.

"I think sometimes when you just see it you can really notice a focus on somebody, and he's one of the guys that you can tell how important it is to him. He shows that just by the way he works, so I've been encourage by that."

The pass rush hasn't ended with Powell.

Quinn pointed Sharrif Floyd and Damien Jacobs out as players he would put in the top three with Powell as pass rushers on the team this spring. The coaches have also been pushing the team to improve its ability to get after the quarterback.

"Rush and affecting the quarterback—at times we'll do it with pressure and at times we'll do it with a four-man rush," Quinn said. "We've been working hard at it, and I think we'll see the benefit of that."

PURIFOY A POSSIBILITY: As long as Marcus Roberson is healthy, one cornerback position seems locked up in the fall. The sophomore cornerback started all last season before a neck injury kept him out of the final three games of the year.

With Roberson out, classmate Loucheiz Purifoy saw increased playing time. After getting his feet wet in the final three games, Purifoy heads into the spring with more reps on the table since Roberson isn't cleared for contact.

"He really came on and played some and all the way through the bowl preparations is when you really see the guy break through. That game—he played a bunch. Going into the offseason we were saying, ‘Alright, now the light's gone on,' for him. That's carried through for the offseason. I like the way he challenges.

"As a tall guy he can press and get his hands on people. So he's had a good offseason and we're halfway through the spring practice. I'm pleased with where he's at and the coaching that he's taking and putting it out onto the field. He's one I'm looking forward to big things from."

With Roberson likely to lock down one of the starting spots, there looks to be a three-way competition for the other spots with Purifoy, Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins as the candidates. Despite Riggs and Watkins getting more playing time last season, Quinn thinks Purifoy is in the race for the job.

"I think he's absolutely in the mix to do that. He's one of the guys that like I said have had a really good offseason going through the process. I think probably coming from high school – and I was probably as naïve to this as a lot of the guys – like I don't know if they have an understanding sometimes of how hard you really have to work."

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