Quinn still looking for improvement

Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is happy with the way his unit has played through four games this season, but there are still areas the group singled out to work on during the bye week. It's an important week to clean it up with No. 4 LSU coming to Gainesville on Saturday. The defense will get its first test against a traditional offensive scheme.

The secondary has played well in coverage against pass-heavy offenses of Texas A&M and Tennessee. LSU will use an offense predicated on the run and try to ground out the short yards. However, the secondary still has to be aware of the increased deep shots the Tigers will use with new quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn thinks it has been the strength of the Florida defense so far.

"When you look at where we're at from a coverage standpoint, I think there's been some good matchups in terms of how the guys are playing routes in that way," Quinn said. "I think from our communications standpoint on the back end, we'd still like to see that improve, where you play some no-huddle teams that move fast and that type of thing. We'd still like to see that improve."

The run game is what will be tested this weekend. The Florida defense has held up well against the run this year, but they haven't faced a test like they'll see on Saturday. LSU wants to line up and run the ball between the tackles through the heart of the defense.

The run game of Texas A&M was focused on getting to the perimeter or quarterback runs. Tennessee has struggled to run the ball all year, and the Florida defense shut them down.

"I'd like to see (the run defense) squared up at the line of scrimmage where we just didn't fit a run exactly like we needed to," Quinn said.

The remaining area of improvement for the defensive line is sacks, but Quinn said that is also effected by the opponent this season. Bowling Green and Texas A&M both used quick pass offenses to get the ball out of the hand of the quarterback in a hurry. That reduced the time Florida could get to the quarterback and record a sack.

The Gators have sacked the quarterback just five times this season, tied for the worst in the SEC.

"We need to win when we have our one-on-ones, whether it's defensive tackle or defensive end matched up on a guard or tackle," Quinn said. "We need to do a good job on first and second down to create some longer yardage where we get an opportunity when it's more of a passing situation to get into the rush. Those would be two things in this ball game for us to generate more quarterback hits and sacks."

JENKINS BACK: Redshirt junior linebacker Jelani Jenkins is expected to return on Saturday against LSU after breaking his thumb during the first half against Texas A&M.

"Having Jelani back is going to add a lot of value for us," Quinn said. "One, from an experience standpoint, where he's played the position and been in it. Two from an ability to cover. He's a guy that we certainly match up well when we do our nickel stuff and he's a good blitzer, so it's good to have him back."

Jenkins will be playing with a cast on his hand on Saturday. He practiced non-contact on Monday and practiced with contact on Tuesday and Wednesday to start getting adjusted to the cast. That's the biggest hurdle in Quinn's mind.

It won't be comfortable to play with a cast, but Jenkins has to get used to making plays and tackling with it on.

"I think the more they have it on, you kind of get used to it," Quinn said. "It may be harder the first time you go out and practice and now, ‘How do I do this without?' But I think he would absolutely take it over not playing. So it's good to have him back.

"It certainly seems like he's been accustomed to playing with it and I think each day you kind of get more experience."

STRUGGLING TO REPLACE POWELL: BUCK linebacker Ronald Powell was originally expected back in October after tearing his ACL in the spring game, but head coach Will Muschamp said recently that Powell suffered a setback and will take a redshirt this season.

In his absence, the Gators moved Lerentee McCray to the BUCK and even put freshman Dante Fowler in to get some reps at the position.

Quinn doesn't think the group at BUCK has replaced what Powell would have done at the position.

"I don't think we have in terms of our production standpoint," Quinn said. "I've certainly been pleased with the way McCray's played the spot. He plays with toughness and effort and finishing, but in terms of adding another value with Ronald, he's a hard guy to replace in that way, so no at this point."

Fightin Gators Top Stories