Keep an Eye on Jaye Howard

If I had to predict one guy who didn't start last year to win a starting job on the Gator defense in 2009 it would have to be Jaye Howard. The powerful young defensive tackle has been pushing Terron Sanders since spring practice and it doesn't seem likely he's ever going to stop.

Jaye Howard has changed dramatically from a lanky freshman defensive end to a 6-3, 296 pound force on the Florida defensive line. Last season he was credited with eight tackles including half a sack against South Carolina and a solo sack against Florida State. He also recovered a fumble in that win in Tallahassee. He's now a third-year sophomore and the Orlando Jones graduate seems primed for a much larger role for the Gators this fall.

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On first scrimmage:

"It felt pretty good to get out there. During the spring the whole O-line wasn't healthy but now they're starting to get back healthy. The competition has picked up and it felt good to scrimmage against those guys."

On the toughest guy for him to go against:

"Surprisingly you could say the (Pouncey) twins and all but right now I think it's (Jonotthon) Harrison the freshman. He's coming on. He's strong and it's tough to go against him every play."

On going after a job:

"That's competition. We're at Florida and it's going to be like that. We're pushing each other and that'll make us better in the season. That's how it is. Our backups would be starting at other places."

On the biggest threat to this team:

"I'd have to say ourselves. We go as far as we push ourselves. We can get feeding on what the media is hyping us up to be. We have to come out and work hard every day."

On where he's improved the most:

"Pass rushing. That was a weakness but I'm picking it up now. I come out and go against the Pounceys every day and Mike he's a great pass blocker. If I go out and get a win against him I know I can do it against the SEC."

On him and Omar Hunter pushing Sanders and Lawrence Marsh:

"We got out there and tell ourselves we got to keep doing it. It's not all about starting. It's about building depth in the D-Line. If we have depth then we can do it."

On the defense's expectations:

"Right now I think our goal is to be the best defense in the country. There's more emphasis on the D-Line this year. We have to build our depth. A lot of guys played last year when they were tired and no one was able to come relieve them."

On trying to please Coach Dan McCarney:

"I think he's one of the toughest coaches. I think that's what our D-Line was missing (in 2007). Coach Mattison is an easy going guy, but McCarney is in your face cursing you out every play. If you don't do it you're going to get passed up (on the depth chart)."

On the Pounceys being a little "dirty":

"Oh yeah, they'll cheap shot you. You gotta keep your head on a swivel. They don't hold. James Wilson's the holder. We go at it, but after practice they're my boys."

On which lineman trash talks most:

"The twins. You talk to one of them and the other is going to jump in there and get his back so you got to deal with both of them. They're just characters. They wake us up every morning and when we're out there on the field they keep us energized."


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