When head coach Will Muschamp officially took over the Florida Gators back in 2011, he and then-defensive coordinator Dan Quinn both spoke extensively about “affecting the quarterback,” getting pressure on the opposing signal caller, knocking him to the ground and creating game-changing plays.
Florida has not been able to do much of that in Muschamp’s first two years (or Urban Meyer’s last season in 2010). After dominating opposing quarterbacks in 2009 with 39 sacks, the Gators registered just 21 sacks (-18) in 2010, 28 sacks (-11) in 2011 and 30 sacks (-9) in 2012. Trending back upward, yes, but nowhere near as disruptive as he wants the defense to be on a consistent basis.
Muschamp aims to buck that trend next season by loading up Florida’s starting 11 with as many talented pass rushers as possible.
In a post-spring practice depth chart released on Wednesday, the starting-off point for the Gators in fall practice, Muschamp has sophomore Dante Fowler, Jr. inserted as the starter at BUCK with redshirt junior Ronald Powell, who has been listed at that position the last two seasons, as the starting Sam linebacker.
“We’ll start camp in our three-down look to get our best guys on the field. It’s a lengthy discussion we’ve had as a defensive staff,” he said Wednesday. “Certainly Ronald we feel like is going to be one of those guys.”
Powell’s versatility – as well as that of many of Florida’s defenders – allows Muschamp to make that switch with ease. Not only can Powell play both BUCK and Sam, Fowler can spend time as Buck and defensive end, ensuring that both can be on the field at the same time no matter where they are situated on defense.