Confusion helps the Florida defensive line

Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease loves confusion. It's the basis of his offense -- using pre-snap shifts and motions to confuse the defense and keep them off balance. When he's looking at the other side of the ball in practice this fall, Pease sees some similar dynamics. The Gators have pieces on the defensive line that can be lined up in different areas to confuse the opposing offense.

The versatility of the Florida defensive line is what makes it hard to prepare for, and even more than that, hard to block. Ronald Powell and Dante Fowler provide the Gators with dynamic pass rushers that can get after the quarterback as defensive ends, SAM linebackers or BUCK linebackers.

Dominique Easley will play mostly defensive tackle this year after spending the 2012 season at defensive end, but he could move around on the line if necessary. Defensive end Jonathan Bullard could even slide inside on passing downs if necessary.

Fowler is ready for a breakout year

The ability to move players around on defense has helped the Gators improve their pass rush in fall camp. It's a concept Pease has seen work on his side of the ball.

"When you've got a person — like right now, which we don't have — like Omarius Hines, how do they consider Omarius? Was he a running back? Was he a wide receiver? Was he a tight end at times? They've only got certain calls that they are going to use against those personnel groups," Pease said. "They didn't know where we were going to fit him. He provided a hard matchup."

Even when the offense knows where each player is and understands the defensive set up, it's still a hard front to block. Bullard and Fowler showed the potential of the group with their play as freshmen last year, and now back from an ACL tear, players say Powell has his explosiveness back that will make him a factor this fall.

Fowler is the weapon that will move around the defensive line the most. There was even talk of moving him inside to defensive tackle as he gained weight last year, but he shredded some pounds in the offseason to stay on the edge.

"Dante, he's such a weapon because he's a down guy, pass rusher, pass coverage guy, very physical, he's so heavy handed," Pease said. "He knows how get people off. He's a tough kid to block. He's going to win a lot of battles. And then when you throw Ronald in there, just how they fit them all into their scheme that they do, because they can change the looks on you.

"When you change the looks up front, that involves so much in your calls in your run game or your pass-protection calls, and how you fit into the gaps. Are they an odd front, even front -- whatever they decide to get into -- without changing personnel, that's tough (to block)."

Powell is back to normal in camp

The Florida quarterbacks see it, too.

Losing big bodies like Sharrif Floyd and Omar Hunter last season should provide a drop off on the defensive line, but Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy doesn't see it. Even with an improved offensive line this fall, the speed and power combination on the Florida defensive line will create issues this fall.

"It can be intimidating at times because we have such a good defensively line," Murphy said. "They're a very athletic bunch. They get off the ball quick. They're relentless on every play. Going against those guys is good because it really helps me concentrate on keeping my eyes downfield and not watch the rush. If I ever have to step in and play the teams with better pass rushers, I'll have seen it in practice before."

ROLIN HAS PLAYERS TO LEAN ON: It was easy to see the frustration in Will Muschamp's face when he talked about Matt Rolin's torn ACL on Friday afternoon. The freshman spent the entire spring and summer rehabbing the injury before being cleared to return to practice just before fall camp. In the second day of full pads, Rolin tore the same ACL for the second time.

Rolin has players experienced with the injury to lean on. Dominique Easley and Ronald Powell spent time encouraging him during recovery over the offseason. Powell had two ACL tears like Rolin, and Muschamp expects that to be a valuable resource for the freshman linebacker.

"So much of it is having a positive attitude," Muschamp said. "You can't be negative about it. There's nothing going to change what happened. You have to have a positive attitude. That's where a guy like Ronald can really help a guy like Matt."

Rolin will take a redshirt this fall


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