Dunlap Out, What Does It Mean?

With the news that Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap will miss the SEC Championship Game against Alabama because of off-the-field problems, the Gators are going to have to cope without. There is no doubt it is a big loss up front, but the Gators have been flexible enough and have recruited enough to make things work out. Here is how it will go for the most part on Saturday.

The fact is this is more embarrassing to Florida and to Carlos Dunlap than it is hurtful to the chances for a win. I am not down playing the ability of Dunlap, but the Gators have recruited quality players to play behind him and that is exactly what will happen on Saturday.

The best thing about the timing of this incident is that Alabama is a running team first and foremost. They aren't going to drop back and pass the ball a lot in this game. They aren't going to take quick three-step drops all day. They are going to hand off to their two stud tailbacks and let them try and beat Florida.

This means Florida will line up most of the time with their four down linemen. Remove Dunlap from that set and you add in Junior Justin Trattou who all Gator fans have seen make many plays for the Gators. Trattou is sturdy as a strong side end and may be a better run support lineman than Dunlap.

Behind Trattou is junior Duke Lemmens who has played in meaningful minutes a great deal this year, especially when Trattou was out for a couple of weeks in the middle of this season.

If and when the Gators think they need a little more beef outside, as Trattou is about 20 pounds lighter than Dunlap, they will look to sophomore defensive tackle Jaye Howard. Howard played end as a freshman and moved to tackle last season, but has sen some time at end already this year.

Don't forget that it is Jermaine Cunningham on the opposite side that is actually playing the best out of the front right now. His back up William Green isn't too bad either.

In the Gators' three man line or "Joker" package, look to see a lot of Howard in the middle instead of Trattou as he will be needed outside. This package is designed for long down and distance situations and with the Gators run defense being as good as it is, I expect a bit of this on Saturday.

The object is to three big, but quick linemen up front and all three of them are penetrators.

If it gets to 3rd-and-10 or longer I expect Trattou to go back inside and starting middle linebacker Brandon Spikes to play a rush end to provide even more speed and agility to get to the pass rusher.

In the end, this episode should set Dunlap back more than it does his team. The Gators have quality depth and enough flexibility in their front seven to create a pass rush, something that Dunlap is really on the field to do and something that Alabama is probably not going to do much of anyway.

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