Sharrif set to lay down law
Published: Friday, April 6, 2012 at 12:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 6, 2012 at 12:47 p.m.
Something is happening in Florida this spring that might make some SEC quarterbacks feel uncomfortable in the fall.
Sharrif Floyd is starting to feel comfortable at defensive end.
“I'm actually having my best spring since I've been at Florida,” said the junior from Philadelphia. “I'm getting better each day at (defensive end). Now, I understand it. It's no problem for me anymore.”
Which might pose a problem for opposing quarterbacks.
Floyd came to Florida as the No. 1 defensive tackle prospect in the nation, a position he played as a true freshman in 2010. But with a glaring lack of numbers at defensive end, Floyd was moved to defensive end last spring and spent most of the 2011 season at a position he was unfamiliar with in many ways.
The move helped his team, but did not do a lot for his overall production. He had four quarterback hurries, 6.5 tackles for losses and only 1.5 sacks. Many think he would have had a much bigger impact playing his more natural position, tackle.
Eventually, Floyd expects to be a full-time inside player on the Gators' defensive line. But that time is not now. With less depth at end than a year ago, Floyd has spent most of this spring on the outside.
“We're still low on numbers right now, so it's still about what we have and what we need,” he said. “As of now, in our base defensive front, I'm a d-end. In nickel, I'm a defensive tackle. But right now, I'm at d-end (full time).”
UF coach Will Muschamp has praised Floyd's overall strong play several times over the past few weeks, his pass rush in particular. The Gators have improved their pass rush this spring and Muschamp points to Floyd and Ronald Powell being the main reason.
Obviously, Floyd is starting to warm up to the defensive end position — and put heat on the quarterback.
“Last year, coming in the spring as a defensive end, I just wasn't comfortable with it,” Floyd said. “It was the first time I'd ever played the position rep after rep. The spring before, I was at defensive tackle, where I was comfortable. It's just a different transition.
“Mainly, (I've improved) my pass rush this spring on the outside edge. (The inside pass rush) is kind of a bit more natural because I've been playing (defensive tackle) my whole life. But my pass rush has gotten better on the outside.”
Floyd will finish out the spring at defensive end. When the Gators reconvene in August, a decision will be made whether he goes back to tackle full-time this season or ends up playing both end and tackle.
A lot depends on what happens at the end positions during training camp. Lerentee McCray, Kedric Johnson and Earl Okine will be back from injuries that have sidelined them this spring. And, UF is bringing in some of the top defensive end prospects in the nation including five-star recruits Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler, along with three-star prospects Quinteze Williams and Alex McCalister.
Obviously, the Gators' numbers should be much better at defensive end in the fall.
“Right now, I'm at d-end,” Floyd said. “I'm getting ready for the season. I should be inside for good (in the fall). Depending on the way it goes (at defensive end), I could be playing both. I'll play wherever I'm needed.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.
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