The first team defensive line in the 4-3 defense will feature Lerentee McCray and Dominique Easley at end with Omar Hunter and Sharrif Floyd inside. The starting group includes two juniors and two seniors, adding depth to a position that needed it.
The Florida coaches had a meeting on Sunday to run through the depth chart and decide on players they trust on the field. They talked about freshmen and lesser used player that needed more reps in practice as the first game gets closer.
"We looked at the roster and went through everybody," Will Muschamp said on Monday morning. "We did not necessarily set depth charts. More than anything, it was narrowing down who's getting reps and, talking in terms of special teams, who are the guys we need to be stepping up for us? Especially with the younger players, where are they figuring in as far as snaps?"
Behind the starters on the defensive line, Muschamp pointed out Damien Jacobs and Leon Orr as players that provide depth at defensive tackle, while Earl Okine and Jonathan Bullard will serve as the backups at defensive end. At the BUCK position, McCray is the likely starter with freshman Dante Fowler also seeing time on the field.
Okine has been a pleasant surprise for Muschamp this fall. The redshirt senior has taken up a spot on the depth chart in reason years but didn't contribute much. This could be the year that changes.
The players on the second team with Okine are playing at a level that have Muschamp happy with his depth.
"Earl Okine has taken a step forward for us," Muschamp said. "Leon Orr continues to progress. Damien Jacobs has done some nice things. My confidence level as far as the depth is much better than a year ago."
Ronald Powell is the wildcard. Muschamp said October 1 is a loose target date for the junior's return from his torn ACL suffered in the spring game, but there is nothing set in stone. They'll wait for clearance from the doctors before putting him back on the practice field.
"We're discussing it as a staff, but the bottom line is the guys who are being productive will play and the guys that aren't won't," Muschamp said. "Obviously, Ronald is a really good player, so he'll have all the opportunity in the world."
INJURY REPORT: Tight end Colin Thompson had surgery to correct an ankle injury before he came to Gainesville as a freshman. Muschamp said he "didn't come off his surgery very well" and will need another surgery to put a screw in the foot on Wednesday. It is generally a six-week recovery, but since they are redoing the surgery, team doctors told Muschamp it could be eight weeks before he is back."His parents were in town this weekend for fan day, and they're great and understand it's part of the deal," Muschamp said. "It's unfortunate and disappointing."
Freshman offensive tackle D.J. Humphries is "a little sore" and on crutches after suffering an MCL injury last Friday. He is still expected to miss two or three weeks. Lerentee McCray returned to practice on Monday morning for a team walk through and will be back without restriction Monday afternoon or Tuesday.
Matt Patchan strained his shoulder but will return to practice Monday afternoon or Tuesday. Jordan Reed returned from his MCL injury for Monday's walk through. He will be non-contact on Monday afternoon. Sharrif Floyd returned to practice on Monday morning but was non-contact after a shoulder injury last Friday.
Jeremy Brown continues to target September 1 for his return date, while freshman safety Marcus Maye is dealing with soreness and swelling after he tore his meniscus before showing up on campus as a freshman. Nick Alajajian is looking for a mid-October clearance from the team doctors after suffering a knee injury in camp.
TUESDAY SCRIMMAGE: In the last scrimmage setting of fall camp, Muschamp wants to mimic game day as much as he can. After the team goes through its last two-practice day on Monday, they will meet at 11:30 a.m. in the facility on Tuesday to go through the scrimmage kickoff at 3:30 p.n."We'll treat it like game day," Muschamp said. "We're going to go in for a half time and go out to adjust coming out of the locker room. We'll have some situations. Some more third down work, red zone work and getting on the field and functioning as an offense with the coaches in the booth."
It's all about routine for the young and veteran players. Muschamp wants them know what will happen on September 1 when Florida hosts Bowling Green in the season opener.
"I want to do all the stuff we do for pregame with the younger players," Muschamp said. "We are going to have some younger players play. It's good for them and the older guys, too, to go through the routine of game day. Then you get them in a game-like situation and utilize practice time.
"We're trying to practice every situation that can practice and occur. We need to get out and function on the field with crowd noise. Two of our first three are on the road—it's going to be loud. We've done crowd noise and music at every practice from practice nine on where we've had to communicate with a loud crowd."
HAPPY FOR DEMPS: Muschamp said the New England Patriots called him multiple times about Jeff Demps before the team signed him. The New York Jets called Dan Quinn about him to feel out the situation with Demps.The former Florida running back signed with the Patriots, and Muschamp thinks it's a solid fit.
"I'm happy," Muschamp said. "I think it's great. Jeff is a great guy and a guy that can certainly be a valuable third down back and a returner. When he touches the ball, he can take it the distance."