"You can't get double teamed," Sharrif Floyd said with a smile.
Floyd said he has played the three-technique defensive tackle his whole life until this fall. He will still slide inside to that position on some obvious passing downs to provide more of a pass rush from the inside.
Listed at 295 pounds, Floyd isn't a typical defensive end. However, his pass rushing skills make him a valuable defensive end, especially in the 3-4 scheme the Gators will use plenty of this fall.
"Being on the outside, you just have to worry about one man," Floyd said. "On the inside, it's pretty much the same but it's different looks with the running back sometimes coming at you. It's just some stuff that I have to adjust to."
With the uncertainties that last season brought the freshman class on and off the field, Floyd admits they did a lot of growing up in the offseason. They didn't mesh well with the upperclassmen on the team last season, causing a rift that was easily noticeable.
Floyd summed up what they learned this offseason into one sentence—"Control what you can control." It sounds simple, but it's what the underclassmen have learned to live by this offseason.
"It's in regards to everything—in life and on the field," Floyd said. "Control what you can control. We couldn't control what happened last year, so that's just how it went."
Because of the growth, the players all see an improved chemistry on the team this year. That doesn't exactly translate into wins on the field, but it sure helps after seeing a divided team lose five games in 2010.
"Chemistry is way better on both sides of the ball," Floyd said. "We aren't just an offense and a defense—we're a team. We break as a team after practice. We don't break it down as an offense and defense anymore."
While the defensive line works to get the defense down, they've done it while trying to control two of the fastest running backs in the conference. Will Muschamp has praised Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey every time he has spoken with the media in fall camp, and the players are seeing it, too.
It's no secret to the players that the offense will be led by Florida's two-headed running back system. While they continue to get into game shape, they're also giving the defensive line a big challenge to prepare for heading into the season.
"They can do it all," Floyd said. "Preparing for a season with those two in the back field is crazy because you're going to get every look that you can possibly imagine. Rainey can cut on a dime, do this and do that. Demps can do the same thing. It gets you going with a better motor."
The focus of the defensive line this fall has continued to be the pass rush. After recording 21 sacks to tie for tenth place in the conference last season, Muschamp wasted no time in making sure that was a focal point of the defense this season.
He's an aggressive coach and play caller, but being forced to get a pass rush by sending extra blitzers can leave the team vulnerable over the middle.
That's what makes it important for the defensive line to get to the quarterback. Floyd thinks the team will continue to improve in that category as they get a better grasp on the defense.
"Pass rushing comes naturally to our whole d-line and linebackers," Floyd said. "We just have to stop thinking because sometimes we're still thinking about the plays that are given to us. Sometimes it's over thinking."