March 5, 2009

1-on-1 with coach Dan McCarney

Without a doubt, former Florida Co Defensive Coordinator and defensive line coach Greg Mattison was considered to be one of the better line coaches in the college game.

When he decided to take a job in the NFL, Urban Meyer didn't have to look far to find his replacement.

Meyer was able to lure Dan McCarney away from South Florida. The move paid immediate dividends as the defensive line turned from a weakness into a strength during the season. Find out what McCarney thinks about his returning players in this GBN Q&A.weeks last spring, I thought it was a mismatch. We couldn't do anything against the offensive line, but the last couple of weeks of spring, I think we saw signs of improvement.

I think if these guys stay together and get better, we can have a good defense.

GatorBait.net: William Green played as a true freshman on the line, and also stood up some and dropped into coverage. Where is he size wise and what does he bring to the table this spring?

Dan McCarney: There's no doubt that he can play outside linebacker or defensive end because he's really got some speed. He's definitely a Fox.

He's got speed and quickness, but nobody plays as hard, nobody in this program plays as hard as Willie Green. He's one of those guys that gives you everything he's got on every snap. No matter if it's Monday's practice or in a game on Saturday. Whenever it's time to go to work, he goes hard. You think about it. It's one thing to say you are going to play hard, it's one thing to say you're going to do that, but it's another thing to go do it - and do it every snap. He does that. That's why he got on the field.

Right now he's at 234 (pounds), he looks better, he's bigger, he's stronger, he's better physically and he's starting to get a little more size to him. He's getting, what I characterize as, an SEC rear end. With that comes some punch when you're coming out of your stance and going against those massive SEC tackles and tight ends.

When you're a guy like that, who cares and plays hard all the time, you'll find a place for him on the field.

GatorBait.net: Edwin Herbert was listed in the 290 range when he signed, but the reports are he is a bit undersized. What is his current height and weight and can he help at that size?

Dan McCarney: He's way behind. No where near where he needs to be. He came in out-of-shape and overweight. He was never 290, if he was it wasn't when I saw him. He came in out of shape in the 280s, he didn't look good physically at all, and Micky (Marotti) got him down in the 260s and he's trying to put it back on him now. He was at 276 today. This will be a very important spring for him. He needs to go out and perform and earn a scholarship. He needs to go out and help this team and say, 'Hey I can help this team, it wasn't a mistake bringing me here and I deserve to be here and here are the reasons why' and that's what I expect out of him.

GatorBait.net: When talking about Epps last fall, you said that if a JUCO couldn't compete from the start, recruiting him was a mistake. You would have been better off signing a high school player at the position. Is that still the mindset?

Dan McCarney: That's my mindset. You would have to check with the other coaches to see how they feel, but if you bring in a JC guy and he red shirts, you should have brought in a high school guy. You have no business bringing in a JC guy to red shirt. They should bring talent, experience, maturity - some things some high school kids might not have. If they can't play right away, you probably made a mistake bringing them in.

The jury is still out on Troy Epps. He's 305 pounds right now, and strong, but he has to come back from this knee injury. Right now he's definitely on track to be back with us for camp in August.

GatorBait.net: We haven't talked a whole lot about Jaye Howard, where does he stand?

Dan McCarney: He's an inside guy we played at nose and tackle the last six weeks of the season last year. He's almost 300 pounds right now. He's the one guy who looks the most physically different right now from where he was when we finished the season.

He could play some end in our three down package, but we'll leave him inside at nose and tackle.

They kid him because he came in and started off at the Fox, and then he grew into an end, and then he grew into a tackle and now a nose. He's been at 295 to 300 for the past several weeks now.

Basically his future is on the inside.

He has three more years of eligibility. He's got a lot of time left.

GatorBait.net: That is a lot of players we just went over, but is there someone you are just excited to see if what you've seen and heard about over the winter is going to translate to the field this spring?

Dan McCarney: Yeah, the two red shirt guys. Omar Hunter and Earl Okine are guys who have been here for a year, well Earl got here last January, but they aren't rookies anymore.

They didn't play a single down, but they are part of a national championship winning team now. They didn't play, but they know how the team works, they know how to prepare and what is expected of the players here. Now it's time for them to start earning their scholarship.

They are two guys I'm really excited to see if they can develop this spring and be able to help us in the fall.

GatorBait.net: There's only one guy left we haven't talked about - John Brown - what's his situation?

Dan McCarney: He hasn't been with the team for months and months. I believe he's trying to finish up this spring, and take care of his grades. I understand he wants to look at a possible junior college. He hasn't been with us for a long time.

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