D-Line ready to show pass rush

As well as the Gator defense has played in the first two games, the boys at Florida know they can do better. Getting to the quarterback is something they feel they will be able to pride themselves on at season's end, but one that hasn't happened so far is getting big results from their ability to affect the guy that throws the ball.

Florida head coach Will Muschamp doesn't care much about garnering sacks with his front. Not that he will turn them down, but he knows If he has an effective defense, that offenses will shy away from making the sack a possibility.

What Muschamp preaches is the ability to affect the quarterback. Hurry passes, hit him while throwing to cause fumbles or bad passes that turn into interceptions, that kind of thing.

Florida senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley is a leader of the group and expects the defensive line to play at an elite level. Senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs says that is just the way it is supposed to happen at Florida.

"We always try to make sure that everybody is doing what they're supposed to do, because we know that with the talent we have on defense if everybody does their job, we're going to make big plays and it's going to be real special," Jacobs said reiterating the thought of Easley. "The standard has to be high for everyone, even for himself. That's how we run it around here, because that's how it's been run."

Florida only has three sacks in their first two games, but they have been able to affect the quarterback regardless. With 12 quarterback pressures in the two games and seven passes broken up, it is apparent that the quarterbacks aren't being allowed to just sit back and throw the ball.

Jacobs is just a part of a 7-8 man defensive line rotation that includes Easley, Jonathan Bullard, Dante Fowler, Leon Orr, Bryan Cox, Darious Cummings, and Ronald Powell. He believes this is a group capable of big things.

"We can probably set records as a defensive line with the pass rush that we have," Jacobs said. "Easley and Powell are just going to demand so much away from everybody else. You got Bullard, Fowler, myself, Leon, all those guys can make plays too. Somebody is going to be distracted by someone, so it's going to be a lot of one-on-ones somewhere else." Jacobs also knows his role.

"My job is to come in and play in the situation they need me to play, whether it's to stop the run or rush the quarterback," he said. "That's my job. Just to be tip-top in the rotation every chance I get, because we got a lot of guys. We can stay fresh so every time I get in my role is to make plays rushing the quarterback or the runner."

Turnovers are the big reward for a team that wants to put pressure on an offense overall. Sophomore Jonathan Bullard is a starter at defensive end and has one pressure so far this season. He believes the Gators need to get teams in passing situations to get the turnovers that they aspire to get on defense.

"Make them throw the ball," Bullard said. "I feel like the run game, if we do our job, we stuff them up front. We get to the quarterback, make them get the ball out quick. I feel like that will be our job with our pass-rush game.

Tennessee comes to town on Saturday and the team knows that the season's first SEC contest is a big one. The Gators have eight wins in a row over the eastern division rivals and want to continue the trend.


"It's real big," Jacobs said of the game and the streak. "Just seeing the embarrassment on their behalf and the enjoyment on our behalf is a good thing, and I'd like to keep it going forever."

That doesn't mean that the Gators are taking this team lightly. "Going against Tennessee last year, I feel like me playing as a freshman was one of my toughest games," Bullard said. "I feel like for me, that has motivated me to work harder this year because of how good I felt like they were last year. With them bringing back four or five guys, it's just going to be harder."

The Vols will try and work on Florida's front by moving the pocket, quick passes and running the ball and taking an up-tempo philosophy to the game.

"They try to get the defense tired, get us on our heels," Bullard said. "That's something the last few weeks they've been doing up-tempo. So we're kind of getting used to it. Our bodies are getting used to pushing and we've got a good rotation going. We've got guys up front that can come out, and the backups are going to be just as good as the front. We're prepared for it. We just got to keep having a good week of practice."

The Volunteers struggled last week on the road against a top five team in Oregon. They scored on their first possession and then not again until the middle of the fourth quarter. With the five offensive linemen and a few other returnees on offense, the Florida defense knows they are better than that.

"We kind of try to throw out the game against Oregon, because it's going to be a whole different team on Saturday." Jacobs said. "They've got a really good offensive line. Really experienced, and I think they are going to come out and throw their best shot, so we have to throw ours too."

The Gators have worked on being more focused with the off week. Florida's defense got off to a bad start giving up 14 first quarter points against Miami two weeks ago and that proved to be more than the difference in the win for the Hurricanes.

"I think with the loss a couple weeks ago, everybody took a reality check and realized we can't just roll our helmet out there," Bullard said. "We've still got to work. These last two weeks, everybody has been pushing themselves because we're a team and we're on a mission and we want to win."

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