If this were the big event the ringside announcers’ introductions might sound something like this- In this corner weighing 255 pounds with lightning speed and quickness eager to finally prove that he too can throw the big punch consistently, while fending off whatever the opponent throws at him welcome Jarvis Moss, Moss.
In the other corner, weighing 309 pounds and trying to establish himself as a legitimate contender in perhaps the most important position on the line. Phil Trautwein, Trautwein.
Moss and Trautwein are both trying to establish themselves as starters. There is little doubt that Moss will become a successful defensive end. His speed, quickness, athleticism, long arms and attitude are seemingly cut right from the defensive coordinators school of building construction.
However, the eyes will be on Trautwein and many of his mates as they prove that despite losing starters Mike Degory, Randy Hand, Lance Butler, and Tavares Washington the talent remains to improve upon last season’s effort. None of a new faces along the offensive front will be more closely scrutinized than Trautwein, who is charged with protecting quarterback Chris Leak’s blindside.
Moss and Trautwein confirmed at media day that they indeed work to help each other and hope to be ready when the Gators open the season against Southerm Miss in two weeks.
Mark McLeod: Is there an offensive tackle that can consistently block you?
Jarvis Moss: “(laughs) It’s competitive out there. Those guys compete hard. Me being who I am with my reputation- they go at me and push me really hard.”
Mark McLeod: Do you and the offensive tackles note things that might help and work to help each other improve?
Jarvis Moss: “We talk about it all of the time. There are times that we joke around about it and at times we’re serious about it and run at each other. It actually helps a lot too. Me and Phil Trautwein do the serious talking, getting each other better. Drew Miller is like my joking buddy. We go at it, but we have a good time doing it.”
Mark McLeod: If you were to provide an assessment of Phil Trautwein’s play at left tackle, what would you say?
Jarvis Moss: “Yeah. I first noticed Trautwein’s improvement during the spring. It really kind of caught me off guard, how good he had gotten. He’s definitely better now. He really has come a long way. I think that he really has come a long way and be a huge player for us this season. He’ll be an impact player for us. He’s gotten that good.”
Mark McLeod: Speed rushers don’t always make the best run stoppers. You have been very good against the run in practice. Can you discuss the change?
Jarvis Moss: “I think that I’ve always been a pass rusher, because of my speed and athleticism. That’s kind of my strength and what everybody noticed originally. But, finally after a complete off season where after working hard all summer and getting ready for the season I actually noticed my strength increasing and the weight is obviously on. It makes a huge difference when you play against the run when you’re actually strong and able to be more physical than when you’re light and not as physical. I think this off-season is really what had me ready to go and face the run.”
Mark McLeod: You’re determined that you earn a reputation around the country as a run stopper too?
Jarvis Moss: “Exactly. I do. After the first day of full pads I was kind of impressed with my strength. I was on the phone with my brother joking around and said, “I’m not a pass rusher anymore. I’m a run stopper.” It’s something that I do take pride in and my coach, Coach (Greg) Mattison takes pride in it. I don’t want people to just look at me as a pass rusher. I want to be more of a complete player.”
Mark McLeod: If you stay healthy, this defensive line should be among the top groups in the country. Do you really talk about the potential and making that a reality?
Jarvis Moss: “We talk about it all of the time. But, then again, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We all worked real hard this summer and actually finally got healthy as a unit. Everybody is a veteran out there. We’ve all been around for three, four, or five years playing, so the sky is the limit. We know what we have to do. We’ve got enough talent to get it done and I believe in my heart and trust in those guys in the box with me that the front seven will get the job done when it’s time to.”
What do you need to do to be ready to go?
Phil Trautwein: “Learn the plays better. We still do stupid stuff. We need to learn the plays and be more aggressive and better technique.”
“We just go over technique. A lot of us are stepping back. Worry about technique and first step and driving linebackers and we’ll be okay.”
Mark McLeod: Jarvis Moss said that you two guys banter back and forth, but that you really do try to help each other. Can you elaborate?
Phil Trautwein: “Moss is a great player. I mean Moss to me, is one of the best in the SEC with (Quinton) Moses from Georgia. That’s who I’m concentrating on. When I go against Moses, who right now is a top five pick, that’s who I want to do good against, you know to get my name out there. So, I just go against Moss everyday He’s one of the fastest d-linemen ever. He runs a 4.4 (forty) and in the ten yard a 1.55 and that’s quick. He’s just fast off the ball and that’s what SEC defensive ends are- they’re fast off the ball. Going against him everyday is what I want to do. He tries to go against JWat (Jason Watkins) sometimes and I’ll say, “No, no, no. Wait for me.” I want to go against him, because going against him is making me better. If I block him and I win, that’s making him better, because next time he’ll try something different.”
Mark McLeod: You’ve certainly struggled at times against him. I don’t really know who is going to block him this year?
Philo Trautwein: (laughs) I have no clue. I mean, that makes me feel better if I’m blocking him in practice, because if during the season he has 21 sacks or something crazy like that that’ll make me feel better. It’s going to make my name go out there.”
Mark McLeod: Talking about technique. Is there anything that you’re consistently doing that you need to improve on or is it just little things?
Phil Trautwein: “Little things like stepping with the guard, trying to get hip-to-hip, vertical drive on some plays, having the right angle on the linebackers. Just little things. You know the plays. I just need to get better at the angles.”