Cox won’t be counted out on Gators’ line

The Florida defensive line lost the pass rush of Dante Fowler, but all eyes are on Jonathan Bullard to emerge and be the leader of the group. Bryan Cox, Jr. wants to make sure people don’t forget about him.

He started 10 games last season as a redshirt sophomore, totaling six tackles for a loss and four sacks. Three of those sacks came in one game when he led the Florida defense to a win at Tennessee. That game didn’t look like the rest in the stat sheet from last season. Hip surgery kept Cox out of Florida’s bowl game and during the spring, but Cox thinks he can be an important part of what the Gators do this fall.

“I feel like a lot of people have been counting me out and I kind of disappeared on the scene, I guess, because people only look at your last game. In the spring, obviously I was absent in the Birmingham Bowl because of my surgery. But I’m coming back with a vengeance.”

A big reason why Cox is confident in what he can do is the new scheme under defensive coordinator Geoff Collins. There weren’t massive changes made to what the Gators did last season under Will Muschamp and D.J. Durkin, but this year’s scheme is more likely to get consistent pressure on the quarterback.

The Gators could get to the quarterback last year by letting Fowler do it on his own. Without an elite pass rusher this year and with a stout secondary, Florida will likely take more chances this fall.

“It’s just a different style,” Cox said. “It’s a lot more blitz friendly, a lot more different people coming from everywhere. It’s mayhem, exactly what he is: The Minister of Mayhem.

“There’s no concern on this defense. I’m telling you that right now. We’re going to do our part. Trust me, we’re going to do our part.”

The defensive line is going through its work to be prepared for the season, but a big part of what the coaches need is for them to show the offensive line what they’ll face every week this fall. The Gators have just one returning offensive lineman that has ever started a game for Florida and will lean on multiple underclassmen this fall that don’t have a choice but to be ready.

The defensive linemen have talked about it being their responsibility to give the young offensive line some new looks to make sure they’re prepared for the fall.

“It’s very important,” Bryan Cox said. “We’ve been working our hardest on the D-line to get them ready for what they’re gonna see. Like the young guys like Martez (Ivey) and the guys who are going to have to step up and play for us, we’ve been having them going extra hard — not necessarily extra hard, just give them our best every day so they know what it’s going to be like when they face an SEC opponent.”

Ivey has drawn a lot of praise from teammates on both sides of the ball, and after going up against him daily in practice, Cox is impressed with what the former five-star can do.

“He’s mature beyond his years,” Cox said. “He’s good. He’s real athletic, strong. Great run blocker, good, firm pass blocker. He’s good.”

In the end, it’s first-year coach Jim McElwain that the Gators have rallied behind in camp. They want to play well for him in his first season at the helm for Florida. After getting to know McElwain and the staff this offseason, Cox said the team is impressed with the new staff.

“He’s a guy who you would like to play for,” Cox said. “He’s very, -- I don’t know the word for it -- but when he talks, you listen. He knows how to bring everything together. Not just offense or just defense. It’s a team, so we’re becoming more of a team now.”

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