Friday, July 26, 2013
Gator Breakdown: Jonathan Bullard
By Michael DiRocco
During the summer, GatorNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Florida roster -- excluding the Gators’ 2013 recruiting class -- in our Gator Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Quinton Dunbar, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 97 Brad Phillips.
Jonathan Bullard is likely to be a big part of Florida's pass rush as a starter in 2013.
Expectations for 2013: The 6-foot-3, 270-pound Bullard steps into a starting role after receiving significant playing time in 2012. Bullard ended up with 27 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a team-high seven quarterback hurries. He’ll be part of what should be the Gators’ best pass rush since the 2009 season. In addition to Bullard, buck Dante Fowler (30 tackles, 2.5 sacks) also will be a sophomore and the Gators get a healthy Ronald Powell (6.0 sacks in 2011) back this season.
Best-case scenario in 2013: Bullard did a good job of harassing the quarterback last season and more than held his own against SEC offensive tackles. Now that he’s had a full offseason in the weight program and has added muscle and bulk, he should be even more of a load. The Gators’ secondary, especially the cornerbacks, could be the best in the SEC so that should give the pass rush even more time to get to the quarterback. Florida totaled 30 sacks last season, which was the most since 2009 (40). It’s not unreasonable to expect 40 sacks for the team in 2013 and for Bullard to collect 6 to 8 sacks.
Worst-case scenario in 2013: Barring injuries, the Gators really shouldn’t have much trouble rushing the passer. Florida should be especially potent from the right side, where Fowler and Powell can rush from the same side, with one lining up as the buck and the other as the strongside linebacker. The only area in which there is a concern is the pass rush up the middle. Other than Dominique Easley, the Gators don’t have any tackles who have shown they can get a push in the front of the pocket.
Future impact: Bullard and Fowler could become a potent pass-rush tandem in the mold of Jarvis Moss-Derrick Harvey and Jermaine Cunningham-Carlos Dunlap. They’ll both have at least another year remaining.