Position analysis: D-line


Florida defensive tackle Lawrence Marsh makes a play against Hawaii on Aug. 30, 2008.

Bruce Ackerman/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 10:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 10:49 p.m.

The upside

Facts

Ranking SEC D-lines

1. Florida
2. Ole Miss
3. Alabama
4. Arkansas
5. South Carolina
6. LSU
7. Georgia
8. Auburn
9. Tennessee
10. Vanderbilt
11. Mississippi State
12. Kentucky

The Gators have their top eight players returning from a year ago, led by starters Jermaine Cunningham, Lawrence Marsh, Terron Sanders and Carlos Dunlap. Cunningham, Marsh and Sanders all elevated their games a year ago and should take another step forward this fall. Cunningham appears on the verge of a major breakout year after the way he closed out last season. Perhaps the most encouraging development on the defensive front has been the emergence of Dunlap. His early reputation at UF was that he did not practice with enough consistent energy and effort. After being named the defensive MVP in the national championship game, it appears the fire has been lit under him. True sophomore William Green continues to impress and should see more playing time. Two guys who have really come on in camp are young tackles Jaye Howard and Omar Hunter. Howard has worked with the first-team line at times and is competing hard with Sanders for the starting role. Hunter, who is healthy for perhaps the first time, is pushing Marsh at nose tackle and has earned playing time with the camp he’s having. Tackle Troy Epps, returning from a knee injury, has also done some good things and can provide depth.

The downside

Injuries have become a factor. Justin Trattou sprained his ankle early in camp and is still out. He and Dunlap were having a great battle for the starting role at one end. The good thing to come out of it is that Dunlap continues to go hard even though he’s now the obvious starter with Trattou sidelined. Brandon Antwine made a remarkable comeback from a serious back disorder a year ago, only to blow out his knee in the Florida State game. In the games leading up to his knee injury, Antwine had been close to dominant at the nose. He’s missed preseason camp and his availability for the start of the season is uncertain.

Young guy to watch

We’ll throw two guys into this category — true freshman tackle Gary Brown and true freshman end Kedric Johnson. They’re opposites in a way. Brown reported to camp overweight, while Johnson is a bit underweight. But both have managed to impress the coaches with their ability and effort. Depth is OK at end, but Johnson could earn his way by playing on special teams, much like Green did a year ago. Although Brown is carrying too much weight at the moment, he looks like an excellent prospect for the future. If injuries hit in the middle, he appears capable of going in and holding his own.

DEPTH CHART

DE

49-Jermaine Cunningham

96-William Green

93-Kedric Johnson

DT

90-Lawrence Marsh

99-Omar Hunter

98-Troy Epps

47-Brandon Antwine

DT

92-Terron Sanders

6-Jaye Howard

75-Gary Brown

97-Edwin Herbert

DE

8-Carlos Dunlap

94-Justin Trattou

44-Duke Lemmens

91-Earl Okine

Editor’s note: This is the sixth in a series breaking down the UF football team. Next up is a look at the special teams on Aug. 30.

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