“This year we’re running a lot more,” Jon Bostic said. “In the past, we’ve been known as a 4-3 defense. Now, we’re doing a lot more of a 3-4 defense, but we’ll be multiple. We’ll be able to line up in multiple fronts and multiple defenses.”
Bostic spent last season as the team’s run stuffer from the linebacker position. He lined up in the middle and was trusted to be the linebacker who would hammer the running back if he broke through the line.
This year, that could change. The benefit of a defense with multiple looks is that the offense never knows what is coming. Will Muschamp takes pride in his defense making the offense feel like they never know where the pass rush is coming from.
That even includes more blitz packages for Bostic than last season.
“It’s multiple,” Bostic said. “You can’t get too comfortable with dropping in coverage or not. Every play, we don’t know what to expect. Coach Muschamp and Coach Quinn are really aggressive play callers, so it could be anything.”
Bostic even said there were some parts that stuck from the defenses Charlie Strong and Teryl Austin brought to Gainesville.
When it became easier for the leaders to pick up, the younger players soon followed. Bostic said that freshman Graham Stewart has “done a lot of good things on the inside” so far this fall. He also said Dee Finley, Mike Taylor and Lerentee McCray have opened eyes at the linebacker position, although McCray is also spending some time at defensive end.
Keeping linebackers coach D.J. Durkin on staff also made it easier for the returning players to make an earlier impact.
“A lot of the terminology that we really didn’t know when he first got here last year, it’s a lot easier this year to where we can coach ourselves from watching film all spring,” Bostic said. “We started picking up on those terms.”
The linebacker position has two locks to start in Bostic and Jelani Jenkins, but the battle for the other one or two spots, depending on the defense the team is running, will continue through camp.
Bostic and Jenkins have received praise from Muschamp early in camp for their leadership, but it’s their ability to play together that will make the unit succeed. After playing besides each other in 2010, the two built chemistry that is carrying into this fall.
“I know what he’s thinking, and he knows what I’m thinking,” Bostic said. “Any play we’re out there, he knows if I’m going to take a chance and I know if he’s going to take a chance. He may not feel comfortable in a situation and sometimes we’ll swap. We just help each other with everything we have to do out there.”
The improvement for Bostic this fall has come through improved health. He didn’t use it as an excuse near the end of the season, but he dealt with hamstring tightness that limited his quickness.
“I’m getting my speed back,” Bostic said. “I had some injuries late in the season. I got a lot of my speed back over the summer from treatment on it. A lot of the stuff just slowed me down. I’m pretty much 100% now.”