It’s a transition time for the Florida defense right now. New coordinator Teryl Austin is still new to the job and the Gators are busily finding replacements for Brandon Spikes, Ryan Stamper, Carlos Dunlap, Major Wright, Jermaine Cunningham and Joe Haden. Playing time is available and there is plenty of talent on hand. Gator Country caught up with rising senior linebacker Brandon Hicks to ask a few questions about how the defense is shaping up through eight spring practices.
Q: How’s the defense shaping up?
BH: The defense is coming along very well, actually. You know, faster than we expected. The young guys are trying to step up, trying to do as much as they can, because we really need them to. Considering we had a lot of dudes, a lot of leaders on our team that left last year, now it’s time for some more leaders to step up and more young players to step up and take more steps and strides.
Q: With so many leaders leaving, do you think that there will be people able and ready to take their place?
BH: I believe we can. ‘Cause you know just like the ones who left, there is always someone to come in and step up. A guy leaves, another one comes in. That’s football, somebody leaves then you know somebody else is going to step in every time.
Q: Who will be the new leaders?
BH: I don’t know. We’re not sure right now. That’s why we in spring ball trying to figure that out right now.
Q: There have been a lot of different rotations with the linebackers, what is the aim of mixing it up so much?
BH: The combinations we have right now are not really set. So we’re trying best three at any position and trying to play everyone at each position to try to see what works.
Q: You guys have been using a lot of three down sets, which last year was called the ‘Joke Package.’ Is that going to continue to be a staple next season?
BH: I’m not sure. Like I said it’s spring ball so we trying to throw some things out there and some might come while some might not be there. Even then we’re just trying to work our way around different defenses, different situations, and different positions and see how things work out.
Q: How different is Teryl Austin from Charlie Strong?
BH: He’s not really too much different. Real calm. He knows a lot of football and what needs to be going on at each position and what needs to be done. He’s a similar kind of guy which makes it an easy transition to make.