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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Notebook: Coaches looking for bigger pass-rush impact from Powell

<p>Gators sophomore Ronald Powell has struggled to adapt to his new role, recording just five tackles and a sack in two games. Coaches have said they’d like to see more production from his position.</p>

Gators sophomore Ronald Powell has struggled to adapt to his new role, recording just five tackles and a sack in two games. Coaches have said they’d like to see more production from his position.

Both coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn have said they want to see more production out of sophomore linebacker Ronald Powell.

Powell has recorded five tackles and a sack so far this season, but Quinn expects more out of the Buck linebacker position, which he said is one of the “featured spots” in his defense.

“That guy is counted on to be one of our big rushers,” Quinn said. “With Ronald, we’re certainly looking for more production.”

Quinn added that most of Powell’s difficulties are due to his positional switch, as the Buck linebacker is expected to fill a variety of roles in the new system.

In certain situations he will start a play as a defensive end in a three-point stance, and in others he’ll stand up and play linebacker. Depending on the play call he may be expected to rush the passer, set the edge and play the run or drop into coverage.

“When you first start, it’s so many different things it’s hard to master,” Quinn said. “Now that he’s got some experience with two games under his belt, I think we’ll see that production increase.”

Roberson drawing comparisons: Cornerback Marcus Roberson, a freshman, has impressed from the moment he stepped on campus, working his way into the Week 1 starting lineup. Roberson’s size and athleticism make him a difficult matchup for any pass-catcher, according to junior safety Josh Evans.

“He’s got good size and also can jump, and that’s one thing that helps him with the taller receivers,” Evans said. “He’s an athletic young guy and I think he’s ready to D up any receiver in the SEC.”

Last year the Gators could count on first-team All-SEC cornerback Janoris Jenkins to effectively shut down the opposition’s top receiving threat. But now, with Jenkins kicked off the team, Florida has had to look elsewhere.

Luckily for UF, senior wide receiver Deonte Thompson thinks the Gators have found a similar replacement.

“Roberson kind of reminds me of Janoris his freshman year when he first came in,” Thompson said. “He’s good at the line of scrimmage. He’s a good jammer, just like Janoris was.”

Injury update: The shoulder injury that senior running back Jeff Demps suffered Saturday against UAB is completely unrelated to the injury that sidelined him last year, according to Muschamp.

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He added that Demps is fine and has been practicing with the team.

Quinn said junior cornerback Jeremy Brown has “looked good” in practice so far this week and has made progress every day. Still, Quinn was unable to say whether Brown would be able to play Saturday against Tennessee.

Thompson revealed that he was momentarily knocked unconscious after taking a hit to the back of the head following a catch over the middle on Sept. 3 against FAU. He said he did not suffer a concussion, but he did not return to practice until Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Trail needs work: Freshman defensive end Lynden Trail has been participating in practice and has not been the target of any disciplinary action, Quinn said. Trail was left off UF’s roster against UAB and did not dress for the game.

“We’re just looking to get more out of Lynden, and I think we’re getting that this week,” Quinn said.

Contact Greg Luca at gluca@alligator.org.

Gators sophomore Ronald Powell has struggled to adapt to his new role, recording just five tackles and a sack in two games. Coaches have said they’d like to see more production from his position.

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