Jenkins Expects Aggressive Defense

As much as Jelani Jenkins is to be counted on this year after a terrific freshman campaign in 2010, we have to remember that he is learning a new system just like everyone else on the defense. Jenkins says things are going well with his knowledge of what is going on, he also says he is looking forward to what he thinks will be an aggressive style, more than we have already seen at Florida.

Jelani Jenkins has his work cut out for him. A new defense and coaches means a new philosophy and terminology, things that can slow you down as you learn. All is well according to Jenkins as he is picking it up just fine.

"We have a really big play book and are learning it one day at a time," Jenkins told the media after practice last week. "There is just something small to add on to the things I already know. I am just trying to master it.

"It was more difficult in the spring, but most of it was what we learned in the spring. I am up to date with everything they are going to teach us."

Jenkins loves the different variations this defense brings to the table and with them he thinks that pressure will come naturally as they will be able to disguise it better.

"It's a completely different system, but we are still able to run a lot of pressures off of it," he said. "We are still able to run and play football.

"We are mainly going to be in the 3-4 in running situations, but not too sure (how much overall). A lot of times when they show their offense we make them think it is a 3-4, but you really can't tell."

And according to Jenkins, pressure will be the name of the game for this 2011 version under head coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

"We have a lot of different blitz packages," Jenkins said. "I think we will probably blitz more than last year.

"We are going to be an aggressive defense like always, very aggressive is what I guess you could say. I am completely confident in our defense and what we have."

One thing that Jenkins has worked on is a bond with middle linebacker Jon Bostic. The two have always been friends since their arrival on campus over two years ago, but now the two have become glued at the hip as they want to make each other better and as a combination as well.

"We have a pretty good chemistry on the field," Jenkins said of him and Bostic. "We talk a lot off the field. We try to get as many advantages as we can. WE try to learn what the offense does. We are always talking to each other because we will be the ones together on the most on the field."

Jelani likes the rotation that is going on when the younger guys are able to step on the field. Little by little they are starting to mature into linebackers that can be trusted.

"Everything is going good," he said. "We are learning our assignments and the young guys are able to show their talent. We are all stepping up. In the (second group) Michael Taylor is stepping up, Dee Finley, and Graham Stewart are all doing a great job.

"They have a lot of talent. It's just the mental aspect. They don't have as much experience, but they are learning. They are very talented, so as soon as they get it down they will be fine."

Jenkins knows that for the linebacker group to do its job well, the guys up front are going to have to play at a high level. There is some all-star talent up front in terms of what these guys were thought of out of high school. Jenkins says those high school rankings are starting to translate onto the field in college as well.

One of those all-stars is BUCK / SAM Ronald Powell. Jelani believes Powell is going to really be able to create some confusion for offenses as he moves around on the defensive edge.

"It's a good opportunity to hold off the edge," Jenkins said. "With speed on the outside like that in the BUCK position it leaves offenses figuring out what to do at that position. He blitzes a lot from that position.

"We have a lot of talent on the defensive line. All of those guys are really impressive and I am comfortable playing behind them. When they are doing their job, it makes the offensive linemen have to double team and that leaves us free. I like the fact that teams are going to have to respect Dominique Easley, Sharrif Floyd and those guys."

Jenkins is expected to be the leader of the defense in 2011. He finished second on the team a year ago behind all-American and now NFLer Ahmad Black and looks to continue his strong play while he steps it up in the leadership department. The Gators are going to need it.

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