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Theater of Operations, Florida Gators Season Review: The Defensive Line, Part Two

AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 15: Onterio McCalebb #23 of the Auburn Tigers is tackled by Lerentee McCray #34 of the Florida Gators at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 15, 2011 in Auburn, Alabama. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 15: Onterio McCalebb #23 of the Auburn Tigers is tackled by Lerentee McCray #34 of the Florida Gators at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 15, 2011 in Auburn, Alabama. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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Previous Season Review editions of Theater of Operations: Quarterbacks (parts one, two, three), running backs (parts one, two, three), tight ends (one part), wide receivers (parts one, two), offensive line (parts one, two) and defensive line (part one).

According to some (including myself), Sharrif Floyd is the most talented defensive linemen the Florida Gators have. While his 2011 season wasn't success from a statistical standpoint, Floyd's job isn't to rack up stats. His "job" if you will, is to create havoc in the middle of the line, and allow his fellow Gators on the line to do their thing. Also, stopping the run and not getting pushed back, but that's another issue for another day.

The most underrated player on the defensive line this past year, in my opinion was Lerentee McCray. Despite missing four out of the last five games, McCray didn't really blow up the stat sheet either, but that doesn't mean he didn't have a great season. McCray's one and a half total sacks came against Georgia (one) and Florida State (half), so playing big against rivals is what McCray is all about.

If you're looking for a breakout player in 2012, it would be wise to keep McCray in mind.

Play No. 1: Floyd's sack on Braxton Miller of Ohio State:


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

I'm still not sure how Floyd (yellow circle) gets credit for a full sack on this play. But then again, I seldom understand how they finalize a sack count. Especially in a year like this, when Ryan Kerrigan is robbed of like three, weeks after the fact. There has got to be something I'm missing.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Here, Floyd (yellow circle) is being blocked by two offensive linemen.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

As Miller begins his attempt to scramble, Floyd (yellow square) is still being blocked and possibly held.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Miller (green circle) is in full scramble mode, but Floyd (yellow circle) is in hot-pursuit.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Floyd gets the sack on Miller (yellow square). But do you see what I mean? There are two Gators in on the play. I just don't get it.

Play No. 2: Floyd's half-sack on Miller of Ohio State:


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Floyd (yellow circle) spends roughly half this play in pass defense.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Floyd (yellow circle) begins to guard the flat, while Miller looks around for someone to throw to. Look at the coverage though, every receiver and/or running back is marked.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Miller (green circle) begins to roll-out to his left, and Floyd (yellow circle) is watching his every move. I like this because now that Miller is on Floyd's side of the field, Floyd is now acting like a spy. Also, a hat-tip goes out to the coverage downfield by the linebackers and defensive backs.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Just before Floyd (yellow circle) takes off after Miller (green circle), Miller makes one last attempt at looking down the field to see if any receiver is open. But again, the coverage is great.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Floyd (yellow circle) begins his chase of Miller (green circle).


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

I promise you, Floyd is in that mess (yellow square).

Play No. 3: McCray's sack on E.J. Manuel of Florida State:


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

If you remember the play (No. 2) in part one of the defensive line review, in which Dominique Easley went unblocked, this is the same play, but from McCray's perspective.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Just after the snap, McCray (yellow circle) isn't quite as lucky as Easley in that he'll have to go up against a lineman.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

About the time that Manuel tries to turn away from Easley, McCray is beating his block (yellow square). It doesn't help Manuel that he kind of turns into McCray.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

See what I mean?

From another angle:


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

McCray does a good job of getting the outside advantage (yellow square).


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Manuel begins his attempt to get away from Easley (green circle) which makes him turn right into an oncoming McCray (yellow circle).


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

McCray gets credit for half a sack (yellow square).

It's no secret that the success of the defensive line next season will depend on both Floyd and McCray to get things done. A lot will have to do with how much pressure they create, especially Floyd. As mentioned above, creating havoc in the center of the line, should be Floyd's priority, but if he makes the complete switch to defensive end, that becomes a moot point. He did rotate between defensive end and tackle a few times last season, but signs point to hi playing primarily tackle next year.

He's quite happy about that, as expected.

Please keep in mind that Theater of Operations will be taking a scheduled day off, on Wednesday (February 1) due to the national sports holiday that occurs on that day. In case you were wondering or somehow forgot to mark your calenders, that holiday is of course ... National Signing Day!