Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 12/21/11
GAINESVILLE, Fla. Gators defensive coordinator Dan Quinn went back to school this season, returning to college football after a decade as an NFL assistant. Unlike the rest of Will Muschamp's staff, the Gator Bowl will be the first bowl game Quinn has ever coached or played in. In his first season at UF, Quinn's defense finished ranked ninth overall nationally in total defense, allowing 299.6 yards per game. That was a good start, but Quinn knows the Gators can do better. He wants to see more turnovers. He wants more sacks. He wants to be able to have more players to rotate in and out of the lineup. Quinn had to make a few adjustments during his first season as a college assistant since serving as defensive coordinator at Hofstra in 2000. "The evaluation part was the same," Quinn said Thursday. "It was more in terms of being out on the road recruiting, talking to the coaches. That was probably the biggest adjustment." Quinn also said the less time coaches can spend around players due to NCAA rules was an adjustment otherwise, it was business as usual. Quinn is busy preparing the defense to face Ohio State in the Gator Bowl and looking ahead to National Signing Day in February. "It's going to be a big class as you guys can well imagine," Quinn said. "The cool part for us going in right now is that it's going to be a big class and we've got a big defensive group hopefully lined up to be a part of it. Here is a Q&A with Quinn from his session with reporters Thursday: Q: Have the Gator Bowl practices been sort of like a training camp atmosphere? A: Yeah, that's been my sense of it. It was kind of like going back, Alright, let's work against the offense, fundamentals, technique, playing blocks.' It was kind of a cool thing to go through to say, Alright, let's work our skills hard against each other.' I think that's some of the best work you can do. So that's what we've done. It has been more like a camp mentality. It's been a physical time here in the bowl preparation; going forward I think that will help us playing against that style of team. Q: What can you do to shore up the running defense as you prepare to face a mobile quarterback Braxton Miller and high-quality running back Boom Herron? A: I think when you have, number one a mobile quarterback, you've really got to do a good job of taking care of the edges. Sometimes a mobile quarterback might mean he's just dropping back for a regular pass play, but now the play broke down and time to create on his own. For us it's going to be really important to take care of the edges. As far as their run game goes, they have had a run game there in place for a long time. They use their fullback and gap-trapping inside style of runs. They certainly know how to run the ball and it adds another element to it when you add a mobile quarterback. Q: What can the defense do to force more turnovers after creating only 12 during regular season? A: A lot as far as takeaways go. That's something that we emphasize. It's going to have to come through the practice reps first. It starts in the bowl practices and you kind of recognize it, and say, OK, let's practice it again.' It's been emphasized so now we've got to take it to a different spot or do different ways to recognize that. For us to have that low number of takeaways for I feel like the talent we have on defense and the style is not acceptable. We recognize that. Q: The defense showed improvement as the season progressed. How encouraged are you by that? A: After being with these guys, now you know some of their strengths. Some of the guys needed experience and some playing time. For us to go through that, I thought that was valuable. Although we lose defensive tackle Jaye Howard and Willie Green, who plays a lot and in different roles, for the most part most of the men are coming back. That's why this bowl practice to me was important let's start re-establishing roles and how we play and get after it that way. Q: How unusual is it to be really good on third down like you guys are but not to have a dominant pass rush or force a lot of turnovers? A: The turnover one is really the one that is unusual. The third-down defense you'll hear us talk about affecting the quarterback sometimes it's just resetting the guy, getting him off his spot. But certainly for us affecting the quarterback is going to be getting more sacks and that kind of thing. Some of them were not all pass. They were some short-yardage where we played well in the run game. I was pleased when you look back at the results. I wasn't necessarily thinking during the year that these guys are really doing it on third down. Q: What are your thoughts on Ronald Powell in his first season in the hybrid linebackerdefensive end position? A: I thought he got better as we went along. There were some things as we went up to the bye here are some things that we need to improve at and I thought the last couple of ballgames we saw that out of him. He's had a terrific bowl practice. Q: Who are other guys performing well in bowl practice? A: Omar Hunter has had an excellent preparation. Powell has been on who has stepped up. Howard has had a good bowl preparation. Linebacker Jon Bostic has had a good bowl preparation. Those are some of the guys who have stood out to me in these practices going against the offense in terms of making plays. Q: How important is continuity going forward with a team that has gone through so many changes in the last year? A: That's a good point. I think any time you get some experience at something, where you get some turns and you build some trust with some of the players and they back with you, I think that can only be a positive thing. Q: Do you feel confident that the whole defensive staff will be back next year? A: Yeah, I certainly feel that way. Q: How big would that be for the players to see familiar faces for a second straight year? A: That would be a really cool thing. I can certainly relate to that from being back as a player to being on a new coaching staff. Even if it's just one or two new people that's where we've all got to fit in. So many returning players coming back along with the staff, I think that's a big thing. Q: What is on top of your priority list as you move forward? A: It's a fair question. How do we get from where we are now to another level? The first thing for us is really playing better at the line of scrimmage. To me, that's also going to be a little bit more with the depth at the line where we can have a little bit more depth and say, OK, here are seven, eight guys that we can move forward and compete with.' And some of those maybe are pass rushers off the edge. We talked about third down, where we had some good third-down numbers. But I didn't feel like all the time we got the number of hits and resets on the quarterbacks that we wanted. We played a good bit of man-to-man this year and I thought the corners, for the most part, outside did a good job in playing that. Q: So you are committed to 2012? A: Yeah, I'm ready to rock. I really do enjoy it. For me, part of the reason in leaving the NFL was to get an opportunity at a place like this. I am having a blast with these guys and doing everything that we do. Q: Muschamp said after the FSU game that the team was soft and needs to toughen up before next season. Do you agree with that? A: I think certainly that that comes with the whole group. At times I felt like, yeah, we needed to play at the line of scrimmage better. Usually, when you're really good on both sides of the line of scrimmage, you're usually a pretty physical team because you are going to compete against each other. For us, I know that is an area of emphasis big-time. To play the kind of style that we want to play, and for people to come here and say, I really don't want to play against these guys,' well you better be physical on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

The NHL is thinking about hosting an outdoor game in Nashville

Michael Vick in talks to retire with Falcons

Hall of Fame pitcher and former U.S. Senator Jim Bunning passes away at 85

Roger Goodell to speak at Rams event, tickets start at $550

Ohio State hails itself as the ‘fastest team in college football’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Get a look at Shia LeBeouf as John McEnroe in Borg/McEnroe movie trailer

Draymond Green is the most efficient defender in the NBA

It’s not even June, but the San Francisco Giants are probably screwed

Odell Beckham Jr. appears to take shot at Ben McAdoo

Report: Seahawks players feel Sherman bombshell story ‘nailed it’

Turkey: Kanter a member of terrorist group, issues warrant

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker