Rotoworld.com NFL Draft Writer Josh Norris joined us this week to talk about the Florida Gators, a team that has lots of NFL talent. The problem for the Gators is so much of that talent has been lost for the season to injury.
Florida might be able to make up a better team with the people not on the field than the people in this game, Norris said.
We talk with Norris about how lucky South Carolina is that Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley wont be on the field Saturday, the trouble a talented Gators secondary could present for the Gamecocks, and the lack of talent left on the offensive side of the ball for Florida.
The State: Florida is a team that has been decimated like none that I can remember with injuries. They have talent left on the field, but they sure have a lot of talent on the bench too dont they?
Josh Norris: Absolutely, and one of those is possibly my favorite prospect in the entire class, defensive tackle Dominique Easley. Last year he was lining up as a defensive end or a 5-technique outside the tackle. This year they moved him inside to a 3-technique and even a lot of 1 right next to the center even face up as a zero. Hes only 6-2, 295 but this guy is exactly what the NFL wants. He gets upfield, has the quickest hands Ive seen, explosive get off, instantly jolts center and guards off balance, is able to push them into the backfield and disrupt the entire backfield and mess everything. Hes not going to be on the field obviously, and thats really upsetting me.
They have some other pass rushers. Ronald Powell, I am not sure what his status is. He always seems to be injured, but hes intriguing. Hes a hybrid defensive end, outside linebacker, kind of rushes with is hand up or in the dirt. That can cause a lot of issues on the outside.
And then a young guy who is really coming along is Dante Fowler. Hes only a sophomore but hes really intriguing.
This secondary for Florida is extremely talented. You have to two juniors in Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson who both are apparently leaving toward the NFL Draft. Purifoy has terrible technique but he gets by on athleticism right now. He crosses over his feet, terrible footwork, but hes an athlete. Then you have Marcus Roberson, who has missed a lot of time this season. Hes the better of the two, but the best of them may be a third guy, Vernon Hargreaves. Hes a true freshman but a really intriguing prospect. Obviously, Ive only seen him from afar, and then they have Jaylen Watkins. I wouldnt be surprised if South Carolina receivers do struggle a bit with these really, really good corners. At one point I think Florida had the best defense in the country, but all these injuries have really taken their toll. Every time I think about Florida, I think about Easley, but Powell and Fowler can create a lot of havoc up front, too.
The State: You mentioned the offense, which wasnt very good even before the injuries. After losing their starting quarterback and starting tailback to injury, they are really scrapping the bottom of the talent barrel over there arent they?
Josh Norris: They are. When (quarterback) Tyler Murphy came in to play, it seemed he rejuvenated this offense, gave them kind of a spark. Everyone said, Well Jeff Driskel is never getting his job back. Its weird, Murphy wants to emulate A.J. McCarron he said as a game-manager, but he doesnt play like one. Hes somewhat reckless in the pocket in the face of pressure, makes pretty poor decisions, but he hasnt had a lot of space to throw. This Florida offensive line has really taken a step back. They have one interesting prospect in Jon Halapio. Hes playing left guard. Hes very physical, loves to beat you up. Hes kind of a bully. But the rest of their offensive line has given up so much pressure. Then, quickly, in the slot is (wide receiver) Trey Burton. Hes been in college it seems like 12 years. I guess they are trying to transition him to a tight end/receiver role, and its kind of working. Burton has made some plays. There has been some talk about switching him over to defense (in the NFL).