Before the start of the season, junior defensive end Carlos Dunlap was talking big about the things he planned to do this season. He wanted to set the UF season sack record. He wanted to be a dominant player on what he said could be the greatest defense in the history of college football.
Then he went out and basically did nothing for the first few games. He was barely noticed. He was rarely a factor.
But he’s turned that around in a big way recently. Dunlap has started to play like one of the best defensive players in the nation. In Saturday night’s victory at Mississippi State, he was all over the field, making plays and disrupting the MSU offense. He was perhaps the most noticeable player on the field. He had three sacks, tipped a pass that was intercepted and recorded three tackles for losses.
“He needs to keep it going,” UF defensive line coach Dan McCarney said. “He’s got that in him. He’s got the ability, he’s got the talent, he’s got the experience. I just told him, ‘We’ve talked about your dreams and goals and what you want to accomplish, and you need to start playing that way. That means practicing better.’
“He did that the past couple of weeks, and he sure played that way on Saturday. We hope it will continue. We think it will.”
It’s no secret that Dunlap, a junior, is planing to leave early for the NFL. He has the talent. He has perhaps the biggest upside of any player on a very deep and talented Florida roster.
In the past, it’s been a real battle for the coaching staff to tap into all that potential. Now, McCarney is getting it to pour out, which is definitely good news for the Gators as they continue to seek perfection this season.
“Everybody is different,” McCarney said. “You can’t treat them all the same. There are different people and personalities inside those helmets. With Carlos, you can’t stand there and scream and yell at him all day long. But he’s got to understand this isn’t good enough, you’re capable of doing this and this is what you need to do. If you do that, we have a chance to have a great defensive end out there in No. 8.
“He was a dominant football player Saturday. The plays he made, the athletic plays, the effort plays, it was really impressive. I’m excited about what he can do for the rest of the year.”
It looks like Dunlap is ready to start living up to all that big preseason talk.