Improving defensive line depth 'a help' for Gervon Dexter

While Chris McClellan wasn’t able to close the gap between himself

A scrambling Brady Cook, his presence in the backfield was enough to cause significant disruption for the Missouri quarterback.

McClellan gave chase, Florida freshman defensive tackle effectively shortened the window for Cook to make a gainful play & eventually chased the Tigers’ signal-caller out of bounds for a 3 yard loss

It was credited as McClellan's first-career sack. In the grand scheme of the game, that specific sequence was reasonably forgettable:

A sack with no tackle that came just two plays before a Missouri touchdown. However, its potential influence on the remainder of the season can’t be understated. Just ask Gervon Dexter.

“Going forward, I think that some of the young guys are building trust and now getting a little more reps each week and it [helps lessen my workload],” the sophomore defensive tackle said Wednesday.

“That’s been a help, for sure.” Through six games, Dexter has seen more game action than any other Power 5 defensive lineman in the country with 326 total snaps played (54.3 per contest).

Only seven FBS defensive linemen have played more total snaps on the season than the third-year Gator, though it should be noted that three of them,

Wyoming’s Jordan Bertagnole (No. 1 in snaps played) and Cole Godbout (No. 2) and UConn’s Dal'mont Gourdine (No. 6), have already played seven game.

Dexter nearly doubles the average workload for an SEC defensive tackle and still significantly outpaces some of the conference’s highest-usage players at his position.

Dexter is having an underwhelming campaign relative to the sky-high preseason expectations set out for him is perhaps unfair and almost certainly overlooks the primary issue:

he’s exhausted by the time the third quarter starts. In the first half of games this season, Dexter has achieved a well-above-average opposing quarterback pressure rate.

After the intermission, however, Dexter’s production is markedly diminished, according to Sports Info Solutions.

And while the extremely talented lineman said his high usage shouldn’t affect his play, he conceded that McClellan’s recently-increased workload in his relief has “been a help, for sure”

even though he “prepared [himself] coming into the season” for a largely-increased role. It’s why the development of Florida’s young defensive tackles is so imperative.

Players like McClellan could potentially ease the burden on Dexter and allow him to realize his potential. Dexter said McLellan has made strides that should enable future contributions.

“He's a great young player,” Dexter said of McLellan. “He learns well. He learns fast.

he's growing and he's getting better."

 he had a little more time to learn and get the flow and now he's coming to get some more game reps and he's learning from these game reps and learning from his experience in a game.

 Through six games, Dexter has totaled 21 tackles, 1.5 sacks, three quarterback hits and an interception. Getting there hasn’t been easy at all, though he’s starting to adapt to the challenges.

“I’ve been obviously getting a lot of double teams this year, and the way I’ve been learning how to play it is to get the double team on two different levels,” Dexter said.

“So if I come off the ball like I’m supposed to — say, I’m in a three-technique and the guard is coming at me and so is the tackle

I try to get the guard and tackle on two different levels then there won’t be no double-team. I have to execute that better going forward.”

Regardless of how many snaps he plays, Dexter will have to be particularly sharp in his execution on Saturday when the Gators host an LSU team led offensively by newcomer quarterback Jayden Daniels,

A fleet-footed signal-caller who leads his team in rushing. Gap integrity and efficient technique will be crucial if Florida hopes to keep Daniels under control on the ground.

“Just containing him,” Dexter said. “Knowing where he’s at and caging him in. And I hate to keep saying it, but it’s 11 guys doing their job.

If you need to be in the B gap, you should be in the B gap. If you’re in the C gap, you need to be in the C gap. I think that will get the job done, us executing the call and containing him.”

It’s something Dexter said Florida’s defense hasn’t been good enough at this season. It’s something Dexter said Florida’s defense hasn’t been good enough at this season.

“I just think it's communication,” Dexter said of what has led to the Gators’ defensive struggles. “It’s always one person that’s wrong, so when we get 11 on 11 it’ll be perfect.

It’s always 10 guys doing it right and one person here or one person there. Right now I think we have to focus on everybody doing their job.”