Quinn outlines expectations for his defense
Published: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 10:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 11:01 p.m.
Because the Florida Gators have not played a game yet, new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn can't be quite sure yet what identity his defense will have. But he knows exactly what he wants it to be.
“Physical and fast, and going after the ball,” he said Wednesday. “I'd like us to be a defense that is mentally and physically tough. I hope when you see the tape you'll say these guys are really physical, they play with great effort and you can see the toughness shine through on the tape.
“And really attack the ball. After the tape, you say that's a fast and physical team. They went after the ball, they were tough, good tacklers. Anybody would like to have that kind of pride about a defense. That's certainly what we're striving for.”
Quinn said he has seen what he's been looking for on the practice field. Now, it's a matter of this young defense carrying it over to The Swamp and the real games, which begin Saturday.
“We had a really good camp ... toughness, finishing,” he said. “It's a big package and a big playbook. After you install everything you can pick and choose the package you like for each game.
“I'm encouraged by the way the guys are approaching the game in practice. It's been physical and fast. That's our style. That's how we want to play. I'm anxious to get started and get into the season.
“As you go into the first game, you want to give your guys the best chance to play fast and physical. That's what we'll do in this week's game.”
Some of the defensive goals heading into camp were to create depth on the line and at linebacker, produce a stronger pass rush and settle on a starting secondary, where the Gators are so young (in fact, two true freshmen could start there).
Quinn seems pleased with the progress in all those areas.
Most seem to think the strength of this defense will be up front.
“One good thing about the big guys is they all are playing more than one position,” Quinn said. “Some are playing nose tackle and tackle. Some are playing defensive tackle and defensive end.
“Having the ability to make things interchangeable adds value to our defense. They're a work in progress, but I'm encouraged by where we're at and where we're headed.”
Quinn said the pass rush has started to emerge. He singled out the top pass rushers.
“Certainly, from the outside during camp, (William) Green, (Lerentee) McCray, (Ronald) Powell and (Dominique) Easley some,” he said. “Inside, certainly Easley and (Sharrif ) Floyd. We're anxious to get those guys going on third down.”
Quinn said the coaching staff still has not settled on a starting secondary, other than sophomore Matt Elam at strong safety. There's a chance true freshman Marcus Roberson could start at corner and true freshman De'Ante Saunders at the other safety position.
“We evaluate it as it's going,” Quinn said. “In the early part of the season, that's what happens. We have some guys who haven't played a whole bunch. A lot of their roles will emerge as we go forward. It's becoming more clear. We assess each day.”
With so many young and inexperienced players, Quinn and the defensive staff also are waiting for some leaders to emerge.
“We have some really talented young guys who need to play and establish some experience,” he said. “The leadership capabilities are there. It's important to get started and get going.”
Quinn already knows who his defensive leader is — junior middle linebacker Jon Bostic.
“He's the one who calls (the defense). He'll make the checks at the line,” Quinn said. “In our system, that's what the middle linebacker does. Jon has done a good job with that.
“I've got a lot of confidence in him. He's got a high football IQ. You can tell he gets concepts fast. He's done a good job throughout training camp, leading the defense, making the calls and the checks. He's off to a really good start.”
With considerable input from head coach (and former defensive coordinator) Will Muschamp, Quinn will call the defensive plays. Like offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, he will do it from the sideline instead of the press box.
“I like to be able to talk to the guys and make adjustments right there,” he said. “It doesn't change anything (about play-calling). It's more about the situation and the personnel in the game.”
Quinn and Muschamp worked together on the same Miami Dolphins staff under Nick Saban. Quinn and Muschamp have both said they're on the same page in terms of defensive schemes and philosophies.
“We're together a good bit of the day,” Quinn said. “We've had some 18-hour days right there side by side. We really see things a lot alike and that was true before we got here. I certainly enjoy working with him.”
Like Muschamp and all the other coaches and players, Quinn is excited about game day and seeing what the Gators have got.
“We have some young guys, but some talent. It's a really cool time,” he said. “Let's go see who can pull through from what we've seen in practice and take it into game experience.
“I'm so excited to get started here. The whole purpose was to work with Will and be a part of these guys. Now that the season is finally here, I can't wait.”