"This defensive scheme is helping me out a lot," Lerentee McCray said. "I'm moving back and forth, showcasing my talents when I get on the grass."
He saw extensive playing time in the second half of the 2010 season at defensive end, when the Gators were desperate to find anyone who could pressure the quarterback from the edge. McCray played in ten games last season, recording a forced fumble and six tackles. He wasn't dominant, but this year could be a breakout season.
The redshirt junior will be on the field more frequently for Florida, and now that he has a set role on defense, he expects a big year. He bulked up to 252 pounds this offseason with the expectation of playing defensive end, the position he's most comfortable at, but the added weight will also make him a more effective run stopper at linebacker.
"I really feel comfortable pass rushing, but adapting back to that linebacker position has been coming along real well for me," McCray said.
Ronald Powell is expected to start at the BUCK position, a hybrid between defensive end and linebacker. However, he won't be the only one to play it. McCray said there are schemes involved to confuse the offense where they hide the BUCK.
"With our defense, it's some disguised schemes where I'll be playing some BUCK and some SAM, but it's mostly just SAM," McCray said.
"They're picking things up pretty good," McCray said. "When they get on the grass, we should be ready to play. They're be able to pick it up when their name is call."
The interior of the defensive line anchors the defense with plenty of playmakers. Multiple players have praised Dominique Easley this fall, most recently McCray. He said that he "couldn't ask for a better nose to play in front of me."
If the defensive line plays to its capability, the Florida defense could be strong. There aren't names that are known nationally, but the unit could be one of the best in the conference.
"We're always ready to surprise teams out there," McCray said. "Some teams out there are underestimating us, and a lot of people are doubting us."
Preparing against the Florida offense has given the defenders a good idea of what to expect from that unit. Most players have been impressed.
The maturity and knowledge of the offense has grown since the spring, and McCray can tell a noticeable change.
"They definitely utilize the personnel they have at each position," McCray said. "That's one thing this offense really does well. It's still the same people as last year, so we've just got to defend it the way we know how."