Whatever pass rush the Gators have produced this year, most of it has come from Dante Fowler. He has produced six of Florida's 21 quarterback hurries, leads the team with three tackles for a loss and added a forced fumble. The junior defensive end has one sack, but that only tells part of the story. The sacks will come as the season continues, but Fowler is putting together the kind of season the Gators were hoping to get out of him.
“Right now, I feel like that Dante has been very effective,” Muschamp said.
Everyone else needs to come give more production. Neiron Ball had two sacks and lived in the backfield during the Eastern Michigan game, but that hasn’t carried into conference play. Darious Cummings has one sack from the defensive tackle position, and he provides some pass rush up the middle.
The only player Muschamp mentioned being happy with about their pass rush was Jonathan Bullard when he lines up at the defensive tackle position.
“It’d be nice to get more rush,” Muschamp said. “And past (Fowler and Bullard), we have not been very effective.”
One of the goals of the bye week is to find more ways to get Alex McCalister on the field. He’s tied with Ball for the team lead with two sacks this season despite playing fewer snaps than most of the starters. He has eight total tackles and added a deflection on Saturday against Alabama.
“We need to give Alex McCallister more opportunities to rush on the edge,” Muschamp said.
When Florida sends four linemen after the quarterback, the pressure hasn’t come. Getting to the quarterback has required at least one extra rusher, something that needs to change.
“Most of the pressure we’ve been able to generate is with five guys rushing,” Muschamp said. “So our four-man pass rush needs to improve."
The missing man in the pass rush has been freshman Gerald Willis. During fall camp, he was hard to block and made plays in the passing game and the running game. Muschamp and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin both said they expected Willis to help them this season.
He has only been on the field for the season opener against Eastern Michigan. Muschamp said he’s still learning and battling preparation issues to earn a spot on the field.
“Gerald’s a guy that’s just go to continue to understand week-to-week, day-to-day practice, prepare himself,” Muschamp said. “I thought he had a good day (Tuesday), but he’s just got to continue to come on. He’s going to be a good football player, he’s very talented."