Omar Hunter was one of the most highly anticipated recruits from last year's class, but he missed the first week and a half of practice because of a sore back. McCarney updated Hunter's performance after finally getting in to contact.
"He's had two practices," McCarney said. "He's strong, tough, but to go out and play winning football in 11 days, I don't know. He's in the right place. He'll play at Florida whether it's this year, this game or not, I don't know. We're getting him in the mix. [Lawrence] Marsh is our starter right now. He's got another 10 days to solidify that, but he's earned it. If we were playing a game tomorrow, Marsh would be our starting nose guard."
McCarney discussed why Marsh is better in the fall versus the spring.
"Marsh is not an all-SEC candidate, but he's really improved since last year," he said. "He was a 50/50 guy, 55-60 percent guy, not good enough to win in the spring."
With Marsh the main guy at nose, there's a battle at defensive tackle.
"It's been Sanders, Jaye Howard and Javier [Estopinan] has been doing a real good job," McCarney said. "[Matt] Patchan is the only guy that hasn't practiced and he was our starter coming our of spring ball."
The Gators have been cautious with Patchan who, as of Tuesday, still wasn't taking part in contact drills.
"I think we've been real smart about his rehab," McCarney said. "We're basing a lot of it on what he does in the weight room and he's getting his strength back. I'd much rather be a little conservative and have him for the rest of the season then bring him back too quick and lose him for six or eight weeks."
One guy that probably won't be int he mix this season on the inside is Earl Okine. Recently, the Gainesville-native has been dealing with a fever.
"Before he got sick, I don't think he was going to be in the mix, but you never know," McCarney said. "It's a long season. There's lots of games and lots of snaps in the SEC, but as for now, I would say he's a redshirt."
At the ends, there's no question Carlos Dunlap and Jermaine Cunningham are the starters, but William Green will also see his fair share of time.
"He'll be in the mix," McCarney said. "He'll be on special teams. His quickness, speed and effort, we have to play him this year. He'll be a fox. If we played tomorrow, Cunningham would be the starter and Duke Lemmens and Green would play. I'd like to roll three guys into that position."
McCarney expects a lot from Cunningham this season after working with him to improve his pass rush.
"We wanted him to use his hands more," he said. "He was solid last year, but Jermaine Cunningham needs to be more than solid. He was solid through 12 games. I'm not buying solid in 2008, and I don't think he is either. My expectations are that he is a lot better than solid. He needs to be a better player and make more game changing plays – sacks, tipped passes, disrupts, lay downs on the quarterback, forced fumbles, maybe recover fumbles and score. It's not some dream. He needs to be that kind of player and do those things for us. I think using his hands going up against a really good offensive linemen in practice everyday really helps him. He really has improved and gotten a lot better."
Urban Meyer has mentioned a three down linemen approach this season, and although McCarney would rather have four, he likes the three-man scheme that the Gators have worked on.
"I want to have enough guys on the field to be able to rush the passer and that means there are four guys on the field," he said. "Matching guys nowadays with three down lineman is something that's really good. I think Charlie Strong has put together a great package. We've all given input, but it's Charlie's deal. The three down linemen package is really good and there's a lot of things we can do out of it."
Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski
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