Will Muschamp knows how he wants to build his teams and it starts with an elite defense. That tough brand of defense is what fueled the Florida Gators to an 11-2 record in 2012 even while the offense had trouble finding its footing. That formula isn’t likely to change in 2013 as Muschamp works on reloading his defense even without the talents of first-round NFL draft picks Shariff Floyd and Matt Elam. It all starts in the interior where senior Dominique Easley is ready to be a disruptive force at defensive tackle.
Easley was slated to be the starting defensive end for the Gators in 2013, but was moved down to his natural position of tackle when the coaches decided they needed more depth at the position . He had the athleticism to hold down the edge and will bring that inside with him to go along with his strength and tenacity. At 6-foot-2, 280-pounds, he won’t be a gap-stuffer, but he will disrupt offenses by getting into the backfield and making plays before they get started.
That’s how he made his living in 2012 when he was working as an end. He finished third on the team last season with 8.5 tackles for loss (behind only Floyd and Elam) to go along with a team-high four sacks. He’ll need to do even more in 2013 as Florida attempts to improve their pass rush by applying pressure up the middle, right into the face of opposing quarterbacks.
Easley has the tools to be a major disruptor for SEC offenses in 2013 and the pressure will be on the senior to do just that next fall. Muschamp and the Gators are counting on him to be their presence in the interior to hold together Florida’s elite defense for another season.