Gators Rebuilding 2010: Front Four Roulette

We continue our season preview, "Gators Rebuilding 2010." Until kickoff on Sept. 4 against Miami-Ohio, we will have a series of posts on players, positions and factors that will determine the Gators' success or failure this season. For all previous posts tagged as "Gators Rebuilding 2010" click here.

Florida's loss of Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap, combined with a stacked freshman class, was sure to create a lot of challenges on the defensive line. The challenge is one that a rebuilding team wants; finding playing time in the first two games to figure out a proper rotation.

Line coach Dan McCarney sees a 10-12 man rotation against Miami-Ohio on Saturday. If Florida flips between a 3-4, 4-3 and 3-3-5, a deep rotation will keep the team fresh for a 12pm kickoff and save some energy. Inside, Omar Hunter and Jaye Howard will be switched with Brandon AntwineSharrif Floyd and Lawrence Marsh. The key there is not for any of those linemen to be studs, but to hold their ground. We saw in the SEC Championship Game how Alabama ate up Florida's front, limiting the chances of UF's backers and secondary. Watching the next few games, look to see who is best at taking up a double team and holding the line. Getting in the backfield is a bonus.

The ends is where UF will be tested early. Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens haven't shown the freakish ability that Cunningham and Dunlap had. That's not to say they won't. But I think most of us would agree that Ronald Powell and Dominique Easley would fit that mold. Plus, if UF goes to a 3-4, Powell and Easley become frighting outside linebackers. The Gators won't have their pass rush tested much this season (Alabama probably being the first good passing team), and part of this season is building to 2011.

The Gators may also try including Powell and Easley inside, as well as Jon Bostic and Neiron Ball as a stand-up nose. With this much youth, and a lack of knowing exactly who plays where, expect to see multiple looks and maybe a New York Jets-style defense that relies on confusion.

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