Best defense ever?

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With 11 starters and all their backups returning on defense, many are predicting this has a chance to be the best Florida defense in history, which would be saying something.

That’s a fine (and attainable) goal, but star junior defensive end Carlos Dunlap wants to take it one giant step beyond that.

He wants this to be the best defense period. Ever.

“Our goal this year is to be the best defense to ever play in college football,” Dunlap said after Friday’s practice. “We keep working every day as if we messed up on everything. We keep a chip on our shoulder and we’re never settling. We’re always working and getting better every day.”

Last year’s defense was pretty sturdy, and probably ranks up there among the best in UF history. Holding that powerful Oklahoma offense to 14 points was one of the biggest stories in college football in 2008.

But Dunlap says this year’s defense can be better. Much better.

“We always played sound in the red zone last season and kept teams from scoring,” he said. “This season, we want to keep them from even getting to the red zone. That’s what we’re working on. We’re keeping that mindset. We want to be the best defense in the nation. We want to stop them in everything.

“Me and the guys on the defensive line, we feel more comfortable in everything. It’s not new to us now that we’ve done it a year. It’s second nature.”

As for his personal goals, Dunlap said he would like to set the season sack record at Florida and improve his run defense, which wasn’t all that bad last season. Even though he’s gained five pounds, it appears to be good weight. He’s clearly a physical freak who appears ready to take his game to the next level. Part of his new look is he has cut off his dreadlocks. “It’s a new start for me,” he said.

One more thing on Dunlap. He seems to be going out of his way to mentor redshirt freshman defensive end Earl Okine, the former Gainesville High standout. He’s also assisting in the development of true sophomore end William Green.

“One of my individual goals is to get Earl Okine ready and get him in better shape,” Dunlap said. “He came in like I did, and now he’s 290 pounds. He’s trying to adjust to the weight. Some days the weight gets the best of him and he gets out of his head. I try to help him through practice and tell him the things I did wrong (as a younger player) so he won’t make the same mistakes I did. He’ll be a step ahead of me.

“William Green has put on 40 pounds since he’s been here. He came in one game last season for an injured guy and won player of the game. I expect a lot of good things from him. So far, he’s met his goal and he’s worked hard.”

8 COMMENTS

  1. the possibilities for this defense are absolutely frightening. the only thing that has me concernrd is last year. last year they came in as nobodies and had something to prove and 1 sting of defeat later they became invincible. we won games by the beginning of the second quarter with very little offense. is the hunger still there? the talent is off the charts – florida should be picked #1 even without an offense. does the defense have the drive to continue…. time will tell

  2. The Steelers had the “Steel Curtain”, the Miami Dolphins the “No-Name” and the Cowboys had the “Dooms Day Defense.” The Gators ought to name their 2009 defense the “Back Hoes” (a steam shovel-like piece of construction equipment) because they’re going to bury people.

  3. The 2009 Gator defense will be awesome, but I can’t help comparing it to the 2006 defense…Nelson, Siler, Harvey, Moss, Everett, Thomas, Smith. That was a pretty good crew, especially with Nelson at safety and strong DT play. How will the ’09 Gator D compare to the ’06 Gator D at the end of the season?

  4. rating teams from different years is problematic at best considering injuries,competition,schedule etc. but this team appears to have it all,especially from a leadership perspective,which is probably the most important factor of all!! Look to them to shut out several of their opponents,even if the coaches substitute alot in the second half, because of their superior depth. This is simply Urban Meyer’s
    “chicken’s coming home to roost” for outstanding recruiting and overall management of the team!! ’09 will definetly be better than ’06!

  5. Motivation? Take plays off and Coach Strong says “Next”. I have heard the older players commenting about practice that they are having to fight off the younger players for playing time. I don’t think for one minute it is going to be a problem. Spikes was here when we won the in 06, had to endure 07 and won again in 08. Do you think for one minute that he came back to repeat 07? He knew what it took in 06, he saw what happened in 07 (Yes, they were very young) and he saw the committment in 08 so I have a good idea that he has everyone going in the right direction here in 09.
    Greatest? On paper, one of the greatest. I would call the 06 the greatest right now because at the end of the day, they got it done. However, this defense can be called the greatest if they take care of business and quickily for one reason, they don’t have a Marcus Thomas on the team right now that will get kicked off. I know, Torrey Davis and John Brown, but they did not play consistently like Thomas did and then get kicked off the team. Marcus Thomas was one of the best D-lineman that we have ever had here at Florida (I know that I will get some comments on that), but remember, I said “one” of the best.
    I like our chances this year, oh yeah!!!