Floyd Happy About Move Back to Tackle

Sharrif Floyd knew throughout the 2011 season that he was playing out of position. After sliding outside to defensive end because the team needed it, Floyd had his best game of the season in the Gator Bowl when he moved back to defensive tackle. This year, Floyd will play at defensive tackle for most of the season. And he's not shy about how good it feels to be back where he grew up playing.

It's a better fit for Floyd. There were times of frustration as he tried to learn on the fly in the SEC at a position he'd never played before. However, Floyd now has a new appreciation for defensive end.

"It makes me a better player because now I understand what a defensive end goes through and how much running it is," Sharrif Floyd said with a laugh. "I'll actually be able to cherish the fact that I'm a three-technique this year. It's what was best for the team. If it was supposed to be done again, I would do it again.

"But I'm happy I'm back at three-technique. That's the position I've been playing my whole life."

The decision to play Floyd at defensive end in 2011 is one Muschamp has said multiple times wasn't made because that's where they saw him as a good fit. The Florida coaches needed a defensive end that could hold his ground and not get thrown back at the snap.

Floyd did that. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn called him an "anchor" at the end of the line in 2011. He didn't always know what he was doing, but his natural ability helped Floyd be productive at defensive end last season.

Muschamp said at Thursday's media day that he moved Floyd outside because of questions from the NCAA that kept Floyd out of the first two games of the year.

"I was uncertain we were going to get Sharrif, and that's why we did what we did in the first year of the scheme," Muschamp said. "I think it was very difficult to switch gears on those guys as we rolled into the season."

The breakout came on January 2. Floyd made his presence felt with 1.5 sacks against Ohio State in the bowl game, including one on the Buckeyes' first drive of the game. He will stay inside this season while fellow defensive tackle Dominique Easley is the one that will move outside to defensive end more often in 2012.

"Sharrif is a more natural inside player and played very well in the Bowl game for us when Dominique was injured, but Dominique will play inside and out," Muschamp said. "On 1st and 10 or second downs, (Easley will) be on the edge. In pass rush situations, he and Sharrif will be (inside)."

Playing defensive end forced Floyd to know other positions on the defense, and he thinks that helps him understand the defensive concepts as a whole. That has allowed him to be a more vocal part of the defense as the Gators prepare for the 2012 season.

"It's a benefit because now I get to focus on what the offense is doing now," Floyd said. "Let me look at what (the offensive lineman) is in and his body position. There are different things we can look at instead of looking at our technique and not knowing if I'm doing it right."

In order for Floyd to move back to defensive tackle, the Gators will need some players to emerge at defensive end. While Ronald Powell out for some time this season after tearing his ACL in the spring game and Easley expected to play end in 3-4 sets, the Gators are searching for another body to man the other side.

It could come from a freshman.

Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler were both highly recruited prospects that could be the ones Florida depends on to provide a pass rush. There aren't many other bodies at the position that have proven to be counted on.

"They're going to have to step up, just like any other teammate," Floyd said of the freshman duo. "They're fixing to step up. We're going to bring them along as freshmen as best we can. We'll teach them everything they need to know, and hopefully they can keep giving the torch down and do the same things to the freshmen next year."

Multiple Florida players showed the same annoyance on Thursday about the Gators talking about being better, but maybe none more than Floyd. It's not that they don't want to do well. It's that they're sick of talking about it. The start of the season can't come sooner for Floyd.

"There's nothing much to talk about," Floyd said. "We can all sit here and say what we want to do and how we're going to do it, but it's nothing unless we go out and do it.

"We're focused on who we've got coming and this camp. We've got something special."

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