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Notebook: Florida pass rush facing SEC’s top offensive line; Wenger takes blame for hit that injured Brantley

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Posted: Thursday, October 6, 2011 12:40 am | Updated: 3:17 am, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Florida’s defensive line has struggled to pressure quarterbacks this year, and the unit will face its stiffest test yet Saturday. LSU has allowed only three sacks this season, the fewest in the Southeastern Conference.

Florida’s pass rush, meanwhile, ranks tied for fifth in the SEC with nine sacks through five games. The Gators rarely pressured Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron last week.

Florida failed to record a sack, and while McCarron’s numbers were pedestrian (12 of 25, 140 yards), the quarterback completed passes on third downs to move the chains four times Saturday.

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said the Tigers often use seven blockers on pass plays, keeping a tight end and running back in to protect quarterback Jarrett Lee.

“They’re playing well as a unit,” Quinn said of the LSU offensive line.

“It’s an experienced group coming back. It’s a function of those two things: an experienced club along with help from the outside guys.”

While Lee ranks ninth in the SEC with 158.6 passing yards per game, he has been efficient, tossing just one interception in 108 attempts this year.

LSU’s pass protection has been a major reason why, as he has not had to force throws.

Lee has also received plenty of help from Tigers pass-catchers.

“It seems like he has a lot more confidence in his receivers this year,” defensive back Jaylen Watkins said. “He’s giving his guys a chance to make plays on the ball, throwing it up there for them.”

Wenger apologizes to Brantley: Left guard Dan Wenger looked shaken up when asked Wednesday about John Brantley’s injury. Toward the end of the second quarter Saturday, Wenger was overpowered by Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw, whose sack on Brantley led to the injury keeping him out this week.

“I apologized to him, and it’s just one of those things where we have to come together, and he understands that it wasn’t intentional and that I feel terrible about it,” Wenger said. “But you’ve just got to move on.”

Stopping the run: Florida was gashed by Alabama last week for 226 rushing yards — as many yards on the ground as the Gators allowed in their previous four games combined. Muschamp said the defense did not do a good enough job reacting to Alabama’s offensive linemen.

“It’s about playing blocks,” he said. “It’s about understanding your job within each call and striking the guy across from you, keeping him off the second level, and we did not do a good job of that the other night.”

Quinn said the problem was not necessarily coachable. Florida just needs to be tougher, something he said was not an issue prior to last week.

“They out-physicaled us in the game,” he said.

“That’s hard to accept and swallow, and that’s what happened. We addressed it, and now we’re moving forward.”

Contact Tyler Jett at tjett@alligator.org.

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