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November 8, 2010

Floyd turns in a five-star performance

With Florida's pass rush desperately needing help, true freshman defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd took a big step forward on Saturday against Vanderbilt.

While he didn't record any sacks against the Commodores, he consistently got pressure up front and was a disruptive force in the middle of the defensive line.

His performance earned him the team's Defensive Player of the Week honor, with Floyd grading out at 90 percent.

"He played very well," head coach Urban Meyer said at his Monday press conference. "And he's playing the way he's practicing."

With starting defensive tackle Jaye Howard out for the last two games with an ankle injury, Floyd's improved play has been key for the Gators.

As a team, Florida recorded four sacks against the Commodores.

That's its best outing since a six-sack performance against Tennessee all the way back in September.

And the Gators also recorded a season-high 12 tackles for a loss against Vanderbilt, by far their best total of the year.

Floyd led the charge up front with 2.5 tackles for a loss. He also finished second on the team in tackles with five.

On the year, he ranks 12th on the team with 18 tackles and fifth on the team with 4.5 tackles for a loss.

His early impact has been obvious. In a star-studded freshman class, he has easily been the standout on the defensive side of the ball.

"You usually don't have freshmen come in like that," center Mike Pouncey said. "When he's not rolling with the ones on defense (in practice), he gives the ones on offense a great look."

Opposing teams will easily be able to see what Floyd can do on tape.

The pocket collapsed quicker than it has all year, and the defensive ends and linebackers took advantage, recording all four of Florida's sacks as the quarterback was forced to move around to avoid the inside rush.

That's something that Florida needs to hope continues.

If Floyd can occupy a double-team or two when he's in the game, it will free up Florida's defensive ends to make more plays. They've struggled at times without a consistent rush in the middle.

Meyer said Monday that Howard looks "promising" to play this week against South Carolina. If Howard can go, Floyd becomes a great option off the bench for the Gators, offering Florida fresh legs and a solid pass rush in the middle.

That rush will be vital as the defensive ends for Florida will need to focus on keeping dual-threat quarterback Stephen Garcia contained in the pocket.

Floyd certainly isn't going to solve all of Florida's issues with the pass rush by himself.

But he's more than capable of helping.

He proved that on Saturday.

The Gators need him to have another big game against a South Carolina team that ranks just 85th nationally in sacks allowed, having given up 22 on the season.

"He's playing great," Pouncey said, "and I'm just glad he's a Gator ... He's going to be a great player."



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