For William Green and the Gators, 2010 was quite different than they ever imagined. The senior defensive end was expecting a big year as a junior for him and the team, but the drop off was a huge one. He believes things are going to be different in 2011 for Florida.
“I think there is a little different mentality,” Green told the media last week in Birmingham as one of three players invited to speak to the media. “I am not sure if it is from having defensive coaches or just the type of season we had last year. We were not used to having a season like that.
“It was just weird, I can’t really explain it. It was just a weird atmosphere, just the feel of the team and the chemistry.”
Green is excited for a change and somewhat of a fresh start, even if it is in his last season in college. It isn’t that he disliked the previous coaching staff, Green just wasn’t getting the chance he thought he deserved to get on the field. Now, Green will be counted on to provide a big rush up front for the Gators
“It was a number of things,” he said about his disappointing junior year. “I wasn’t out on the field. I didn’t play much, but when I did play I felt like I played as good as I could do.
“It wasn’t fun for me, but it is over now and I am looking forward to this year.”
His college career has not gone anything like he expected when he signed with Florida in 2008.
“Not at all,” he said. “I thought I would play a lot more, especially last year when Jermaine (Cunningham) was gone. But, that is in the past. I am just looking forward to the season.”
He has a great feeling about the change and what it will do for him, the defense, and team in general. Not everyone has bought in and a few have decided to take their talents elsewhere or didn’t meet the criteria set forth by the staff and were asked to leave.
“I am very excited about the season,” he said. “The sky is the limit and things so far have been going my way, so I am excited about it. Some guys are afraid of change, but I embraced it in a positive way and I am glad it happened.
Green says he will get a chance to play different positions, both with a hand on the ground and standing up… things he did in high school to earn big time honors.
“It will be different for me,” he said of his senior year. “I will play multiple positions. I will play some linebacker and rush defensive end, so I can rush and drop.”
Green was actually familiar with Muschamp before his arrival at Florida. The new Gator boss was the defensive coordinator at Auburn back when Green was being recruited in his earlier high school years. His high school coach was also a grad assistant for Muschamp.
Green likes his hyped up new coach, but says Muschamp is saving the best for game time.
“He brings a lot of intensity and a lot of toughness and I think our defense is going to be good this year,” he said. “He’s real intense. Someone told us he cut his head during a game last year. He hasn’t gotten like that yet, but I am sure it is coming.
“In spring ball he wasn’t chest bumping or anything like that, but I think he will be himself.
“I think he is the right fit for us now. People are putting a lot of pressure on him, but I think he can handle it.”
The change has sparked hard work from the guys that stuck around for the change.
“I see guys working harder to improve,” Green said. “People don’t realize that there are a lot of technique and things that go into it that we didn’t pay attention to last year. I think we have been working real hard on that. I think the scheme and personnel he uses fits us better than last year.”
All of this should lead to a better 2011 according to Green.
“It is the players, the schemes, and the coaches, and the way guys have been working in the offseason,” he said. “It should be pretty good for us.
“There is more complexity in the defense and it allows us to do more to play to our strengths.”
Green should also benefit from his position coaches. The Gators under Urban Meyer always had really good defensive line coaches. Greg Mattison and Dan McCarney are two of the more respected in the business and both got promotions when they left Florida.
Now, Green will be taught by a ten year veteran NFL defensive line coach in Dan Quinn who will coach the line and be the defensive coordinator. Also helping out on the line is 14 year NFL veteran and four time pro-bowler Bryant Young.
“The transition has been good,” Green said. “Coach Quinn has been more of a technical coach and teaching more technique and fundamentals so I am enjoying it a lot.
“Quinn breaks it down to where you can understand it and the concepts he can teach. He is more of a laid back coach. Coach Young is probably more fiery than Quinn is, but they are both very good technique coaches.
The change in staff wasn’t for everyone. Some left on their own and others were forced out for whatever reason. Even all-Americans aren’t exempt from doing it the Muschamp way of which the head coach calls it ‘The Florida Way” and cornerback Janoris Jenkins got a taste of that.
Green acknowledged that it was hard seeing another member of his own recruiting class have to go, but he understood it.
“It was a tough thing to hear,” he said. “Janoris came in with me, I like Janoris, but Coach Muschamp made the best decision for the team and I didn’t. He has all the information and I don’t.”
Jenkins was a big time hit to a defense that now has to replace almost the entire secondary and the loss of maybe the best shut down cornerback in college football.
“Somebody is going to have to step up and take that role, whether it is Jeremy Brown or Moses Jenkins or somebody else,” Green said. “Someone has to step in and fill that void.”
The defensive line will have to improve dramatically, especially with the losses in the secondary. Green expects it from himself and some of the young guys on campus.
“Yes, but we have to be better in general,” Green said. “It won’t matter if we can’t get to the quarterback... One (younger lineman) that sticks out a lot right now is Dominique Easley. He’s been working really hard and I think he is going to take that next step as a player this season.”
It has been a maturation process for Green while at Florida even if that didn’t include much playing time. That maturation includes off the field like participating with the media. Some folks were surprised that Green was asked to represent Florida in Birmingham at SEC media days, because he hasn’t been much of a talker. That list of surprised people included Green himself.
“It makes me feel pretty good,” Green said when Muschamp asked him to come along with him to the media event. “I don’t like to talk and he knows that, so I was surprised he asked me to come here.”
Green was a small part of a national championship team in his first year on campus. In his last year, he wants to do something that he and his teammates want to remember.
“It is the last one,” he said. “We all want to go out on a high note and do what we can.”