"I am real comfortable in the new defense," Beniquez Brown said. "The game has really slowed down for me. It's a much easier task for me now. Now I am working to teach the other guys, so that we can all be on the same level. We are all paying attention to the small things and that is getting better every single day."
Last fall, Brown really began to exert himself and became the Bulldog responsible for calling checks and audibles after making a pre-snap read. While some of the defensive play calling will change, Brown's role on the field will not.
"It's really the same as last year, but I am trying to be an even more vocal leader," Brown explained. "I was the guy that people looked to when we made the checks, but people still saw B Mac (Benardrick McKinney) as the man. Now I feel like it is my opportunity to be the man. I am not taking anything for granted. I am just coming out and working hard every single day."
McKinney's capable replacement, Richie Brown, was among the team's top tacklers in 2014. The Browns have a solid rapport on and off the field and will now get the opportunity to play side by side as starters this fall.
"We came in together and Coach (Geoff) Collins used to play us together," Brown said. "Last year was the first time we were really separated. It's good to have him by my side. It took me a little while to get comfortable with him again since I was with B Mac for a whole year. Richie is a great player and I love playing with him."
While the Florence, Alabama native is the "talker" on defense, Brown reports that the process of communication involves everyone on defense.
"We all communicate with each other from one side to the other," Brown said. "I feel like that's the only way we can be the great defense that we really want to be. We have to communicate, because one guy may see something that the other guys don't. We might miss a motion or something and one guy catches it. That way we can all be at the right place at the right time together."
Dan Mullen has built his program on relentless effort. The return of Manny Diaz bring a change in defensive philosophy that meshes well with Mullen's vision for Bulldog football. While Brown was not present in 2010 when the Diaz scheme helped the Bulldogs to the Gator Bowl, he is thrilled with new style of defense.
"It's all about attacking," Brown said of the defense. "There's not really any sitting back and watching things happen and then go make a play. This is straight down hill get after you defense. Coach Diaz says to just go make plays on defense. We want tackles for losses and we want to get into the backfield. We want do discourage the quarterback on every single play.
"It's real exciting. This is the way that I like to play. I watch the offense to see if I can get a heads up. I might see something and now I can just go. We want to go get the ball in the backfield and get the running back before he starts making his cuts. We don't want him to get passed the line of scrimmage."
Brown reports that the entire defense has embraced the change and is eager to showcase the new system this fall. After a full spring and now fall camp, the Bulldogs are ready to go hit somebody.
"We hear all of the things people say about us and we are using that as motivation," Brown said. "People say we have lost this or lost that. You try not to listen to all of that, but we hear it. We are ready to get out there and prove people wrong."
While there are some newcomers to the starting eleven, Brown believes the strength of the unit lies in the overall depth and collective talent of those on defense.
"There are a lot of guys who are going to play big roles for us on defense this year," Brown said. "I don't want to speak too early, but I expect some guys to have a big year and you can't just single out one guy. Only time will tell what's going to happen."
Now an upperclassmen, Brown has taken on more of a leadership role. During the off season, the leaders on defense ensured that the entire unit had some time to bond on and off the field.
"We are all real close," Brown said. "Over the summer, we all got together. We talk about football and we meet and talk about the things we want to do. We want to prove people wrong. Everybody likes to underestimate us and like being the underdog. It just adds fuel to the fire for us to go out there and play with that chip on our shoulders. We've been doing this for years, to this year is not really and different."