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.”