Will Muschamp has made it perfectly clear he doesn’t want a coaching staff full of yes men at Florida. But his defensive coordinator has all the makings of a reliable right-hand man, and that suits the new Gators coach just fine.
When Florida’s spring football practice opens Wednesday, Dan Quinn will be installing his scheme and calling plays for the Gators, but he will work closely with the defensive-minded Muschamp throughout the process.
“Dan and I worked together before, so that’s kind of why we get along so well — we have a philosophical belief in how you play,” said Muschamp, who ran Auburn’s defense for two years and Texas’ for three before taking the job at Florida.
“I plan on him calling it right now as far as what we’re doing, but I’m going to be involved. In my role, you play to your strengths, and my strength is on defense, special teams and recruiting.”
Quinn joins UF after 10 years in the NFL, having worked with Muschamp on the Miami Dolphins staff in 2005 and most recently as the defensive line coach for the Seattle Seahawks.
The two bonded instantly due to their similar coaching philosophies, and they remained in contact after going their separate ways. Quinn said he would often cross paths with Muschamp at Auburn and Texas to evaluate potential NFL prospects, spending his down time visiting his former co-worker.
So, when Muschamp said there was an opening for a defensive coordinator on his staff, Quinn’s response was never in question.
“[Muschamp] had all the right stuff about him as a coach, and when it came to having the opportunity to work at a place like this, it really was easy for me,” Quinn said.
“I had a great experience in the NFL, loved it and made some terrific connections with players, coaches and front-office people, but it was just a new challenge for me and something I was looking forward to doing.
“I don’t know if anything can prepare you for being a coordinator in the SEC without having done it, but my experience the last 10 years has prepared me to play in big games and be involved in that way.”
Quinn said he hopes to turn the Gators into a “4-3 team with 3-4 principles,” and his philosophy falls right between rushing four linemen and all-out blitzing.
He encourages versatility in all his players, something already evident in Ronald Powell’s switch to the “Buck” position (a hybrid defensive end who can fall back into zone or defend receivers), Josh Shaw’s move from cornerback to safety and Leon Orr’s transition from the offensive line to defensive end.
But one consistent aspect of Quinn’s defense is its pressure on the quarterback — an emphasis he and Muschamp plan to bring to Florida this season. It may not always show up as sacks in the box score, but he and Muschamp share a focus on “affecting” the quarterback on every play.
“Will and I see football a lot in the same way,” Quinn said. “That cownnection is what brought me here.”