McCray Ready for a Physical Battle

Junior linebacker Lerentee McCray enters Florida's Gator Bowl Matchup with Ohio State in the frame of mind his coach is looking for. The Buckeyes are looking to bring a physical style of play to Jacksonville and McCray thinks his guys on the defensive side can match that physical play. McCray has grown into the new Will Muschamp defense and thinks they are ready for the bowl game and beyond.

For Lerentee McCray and his teammates in Florida's front seven, they are looking forward to a knock down drag out against one of the Big Ten's perennial powers.

"We are real encouraged about being physical and going out and stopping the run," McCray told the media this week. "They run a lot with the quarterback, so we are real ready to go out there and stop what they have coming for us.

Ohio State brings an athletic quarterback to the stage with Braxton Miller being a legitimate dual threat. But he has the luxury of having a very solid blocking unit in front of him as well.

"From a quarterback standpoint I would say Florida State is the team they resemble," McCray said of a team the defense held to under 100 yards of total offense. "We just have to get ready for bigger guys to come in and play against.

We have had a real emphasis about where he is going to go. If he sees a crease he will take it. Our job is to just fill the creases and keep him contained."

The Gators are looking to finish above the .500 mark with a win and take this experience into the new year with a defense that returns most of all of it's parts in 2012. The 2011 defense finished in the top 10 nationally and 2012 looks to even be better. Keeping the same system will also be nice moving into the next season.

"Pretty much everyone is coming back except for Jaye Howard and William Green," he said. "I think we are going to be pretty good next year.

"It will be great. The same system and knowing what you have to look for when you go in the off-season. Just knowing the plays and everything will be real good."

McCray says his personal wish for next year is to get "more pass rush attempts and get more sacks". He also says that the changes in the coaching staff during his career have been beneficial in that he has learned a lot of different styles and techniques from those coaches.

"It is definitely a good thing," he said. "You learn a lot about life. You get the feel of the philosophy of the game and just figuring out the game and understanding football more."

He wants to hone all those things he learned into tools he can use to help his younger teammates better next season. He wants to be a real leader for the defense in 2012.

"That comes across my mind a lot," he said. "The main thing for me is getting around my teammates, the young guys, and teaching them some of the stuff that guys taught me along the way.

Saying Goodbye…

One of the harder things that McCray has gone through recently is losing his strength and conditioning coach that he has had for his entire career at Florida. Mickey Marotti left with former head coach Urban Meyer to coach at Ohio State. Marotti was the guy that has been around McCray the most since his arrival on campus at Florida and McCray knew he was leaving even if he didn't hear it straight Marotti himself.

"I sat down and talked to Coach Mick because he is the only coach that has been here since my freshman year," McCray said. "We kind of have a close bond. I just told him he has to make a family decision, whatever is best for his family."

McCray actually approached Marotti before he left about the move, if it were to happen.

"I took it under my heart to talk to him straight up," McCray said. "He didn't necessarily tell me he was going. He just gave me a political answer. I just kind of figured it out.

"As a coach and a guy I am going to miss him. He is my friend but I have to move on. When it is someone you really care about you don't want to hurt their feelings. He did what he felt was the best."

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