Is Dunlap the Next Freak?

If you saw much of spring practice earlier this year you had to get the idea you were caught in a time warp. Sophomore defensive end Carlos Dunlap, all 6-6, 265 of him was all over the field and making it virtually impossible to get things done for the Gator offense.

It was reminiscent of the mid-90s when a guy names Jevon Kearse was so disruptive Florida had to alter its practice routine.

That's the potential Dunlap brings to the Gator defensive line in 2008. That's not just my view. When offensive tackle Phil Trautwein was at SEC Media Days he was asked which Gator would be the "emerging star" this fall the first guy he mentioned was Dunlap.

Florida fans have to hope (and pray?) that Dunlap can live up to those lofty expectations. The Gator defense has a long way to go to reach a championship level in '08. Last season, Florida allowed five opponents to score more than 30 points, two of them topping 40. In 13 games only two opponents – Western Kentucky and Florida State – scored fewer than 20. The Gators forced just 20 turnovers and lost their top pass rusher in Derrick Harvey (8.5 sacks).

Enter Dunlap now listed at 290 pounds and moving as well as he did his first day on campus. He's not only needed to replace Harvey's production at the end opposite Jermaine Cunningham, but to set the tone for the improvement of the Gator defense.

LV: What's the goal for this Gator defense?

CD: To rebuild and get back to like the championship defense.

LV: What's it going to take?

CD: Keep working hard. Keep doing everything right and listen to the coaches. (We also have to) stay after practice and do extra drills to get better.

LV: Has the criticism of the defense served to motivate you guys?

CD: Yeah, all the negative comments we took them as motivation and inspiration to get better and do what we have to do so the (negative) comments won't be about us any more, they'll be saying good things.

LV: What kind of off-season did you guys have as a defensive line in terms of building chemistry and preparing for the season?

CD: As a d-line we got a whole lot better because we were working the hardest on the team. (Some say) we were one of the weakest (units) but we want to be one of the strongest like the National Championship team.

LV: I know you and Phil Trautwein have spent a lot of time together; did that happen again this summer?

CD: Yeah, me and Phil worked out a lot after the workouts doing a lot of one on one pass rushing and stuff on our own. We had a pretty good spring and continued it through the summer, we didn't stop.

LV: Everyone knows what this offense is capable, does the defense take that as a challenge to play at the same level that the offense does?

CD: That's our motivation to get better because we already know what the offense can do. So we just want the defense to perform like the offense and keep the score down for the other team.

LV: Does it all start in the trenches?

CD: It always starts in the trenches.

LV: How confident are you that the defensive line will make that happen?

CD: the way that we're working right now we're going to be two times better than last year, possibly three. We're going to be just as good as the National Championship line, so that's what you have to look for.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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