Florida Gators defensive lineman, Caleb Banks, discusses various aspects of the defense ahead of the matchup against Kentucky. He talks about the importance of teamwork and highlights a key play where he and Kelby combined for a sack. Caleb also expresses his excitement about playing against the University of Kentucky and his motivation to win. He mentions the team’s focus on improving and their determination to come out strong in every game. Caleb also shares insights into the team’s mentality and their ability to thrive under pressure.
Q. Take me through that play that you all had early in the fourth quarter, you and Kelby combined on that sack, just how big of a play that was in the game.
CALEB BANKS: We practice that play a lot, so we had to just make sure we were lined up right. I kind of did my little jig getting over. I got there first. I hope Kelby sees this, but, yeah, I got there first.
I guess we shared the sack, but, yeah, it was a team effort. Took him down. Celebrated. Got off the field.
Q. How do you feel like you guys did in terms of getting pressure on Jalon? You guys finished with four sacks.
CALEB BANKS: We come with effort. How can I say this? We try to come at the quarterbacks every game the same way. Try to bring the pressures.
Armstrong is a big — he likes to send a lot of pressures. As you can see, he’s very aggressive. So we kind of feed off that and try to get to the quarterback as much as we can.
Q. You’re from Michigan, but is there a homecoming element to this game? Having played college in Louisville and all, do you have any friends there in Kentucky?
CALEB BANKS: I have a lot of high school friends that play at the University of Kentucky.
Q. How excited are you playing against Kentucky? I know you didn’t get a chance to.
CALEB BANKS: I’m very excited. I think it’s going to be like an All-Star Game, I feel like. Everybody from my school is going to be there. Deone, Maxwell, one of the left tackles. We’re really good friends. It’s going to be a good game.
Q. Graham just said it’s been addressed this team has lost two in a row to Kentucky and doesn’t want to make it three. What’s your motivation personally to make sure that doesn’t happen?
CALEB BANKS: Like I said, we come to every game with the same type of mentality. We’re going to come as hard as we can to possibly win on the road, first SEC game on the road. We’re going to take that very personal and do what we’ve got to do to win.
Q. How many do you know on the team?
CALEB BANKS: I believe it’s four or five.
Q. Did you trash talk early on this week?
CALEB BANKS: No, not yet.
Q. Will there be any?
CALEB BANKS: Maybe. I’m a trash talker myself, so there might be. Yeah, it’s coming.
Q. You mentioned takeaways, but what’s something this defense, not that can do better, that maybe we’re not noticing up front? You guys look like you’re pretty hard to block right now, but what can you improve?
CALEB BANKS: Overall, I feel like we can improve — I mean, there’s always room for improvement. I think we’re doing a good job with a lot of things. I think we can improve on getting to the ball quicker, like just tackling. I know we’ve been really good with tackling, but I know we can do better with tackling.
Q. Scooby and Shemar, what kind of impact do you think they’re having as a duo?
CALEB BANKS: Those are some dudes right there. They’re pretty good. They’ve got the Gator in them. They bring a lot of energy. They impact the defense a lot.
Scooby is a really big leader. Shemar is a really big leader. They help the defense in practice, games. They kind of lead us through, giving us the call, strong left, strong right.
For example, we were playing in — when we played Tennessee, gave us the call every time, got us lined up. If it was too loud and we couldn’t hear. Pretty big impact.
Q. Are you surprised at how well the defense has played so far this year? You all are ranked fifth nationally and just keep getting better. Are you surprised by any of that?
CALEB BANKS: No, sir. I knew we were going to be pretty good from when I first got here.
Q. What was it about the program that told you it was going to be a good defense?
CALEB BANKS: Just how we like clicked, became as one like pretty early on. There was no type of — what can I say? There wasn’t no type of bad energy. I feel like everybody, we loved each other right from the start. We got along very well. So I knew it was going to be a really good team.
Q. You bought in before Austin Armstrong got here. How much of an elevation has his position just been in this program?
CALEB BANKS: I got here like five days — probably like a week before Armstrong got here, like two, three weeks before Armstrong got here. So I don’t really know. Can’t really tell you.
Q. Is Kelby coming on? It looked like the other night he was.
CALEB BANKS: Kelby, he’s getting better. He’s evolving. He’s doing good. He’s learning to play. He knows all the plays, but he’s going to be really good throughout the season.
Q. Coming out of high school, what stands out about him, do you think?
CALEB BANKS: His pad rushing. He’s a pretty big guy, pretty heavy guy, but he moves like he’s small. He’s going to be a very big element in pass and run game.
Q. You mentioned that Shemar and Scooby had that Gator in them. Define that. What is that Gator?
CALEB BANKS: Got that Gator in them. Just like a dog. We used to say he’s like a dog, like a pitbull, like an aggressive dog. The neighbors say we’re not the Dogs, we’re the Gators. So we’ve got the Gator.
Q. What do you think of Austin Armstrong’s personnel grouping so far, the way he’s using you guys on different downs? What’s the excitement level when you know it’s your down to go out there?
CALEB BANKS: I love the pass rush, so whenever I hear “Code V,” that’s our pass rush thing, I kind of get really excited.
I think his personnel is really great. I feel like he kind of sets it up very well.
Q. You feel like he does a good job of putting guys in position?
CALEB BANKS: Definitely do, yes, sir.
Q. You realize how hard it is getting on the field as a first year guy. I don’t know how many snaps you played, but it wasn’t a ton. What do you think about the impact some of these young guys — I mentioned Kelby, but Jordan, for example, and some of these other guys who are getting involved young?
CALEB BANKS: It’s very important. Like playing as a freshman, I feel like that’s like a really big deal. Starting out early on — I didn’t get to start early on. I told them, when you get that opportunity, you take it. They’re doing a really good job with that.
They’re not showing no signs of nervousness. When we’re getting ready to go, they’re ready to go. Helmets on, getting ready to go to work with each other.
Q. When you see guys on the line beating up on each other, are you having fun out there when you get to do that?
CALEB BANKS: Yes, sir. It’s just amazing. I love going against — I trash talk, so it’s kind of fun just being able to beat somebody up and not be able to get in trouble for it (laughter).
Q. What’s the most fun? Is it knocking a guy flat on his butt? Is it just — I mean, looking him in the eye and knowing that you are just dominating the heck out of him?
CALEB BANKS: Yeah, so like, for example, when we played Tennessee, I kind of like threw the guard or whatever, and he got up, trash talked. One of the plays, I guess he told like the tackle to try to hit me when I wasn’t looking, and he kind of like, boom, caught me, kind of ran me over a little bit. I just got up and started laughing.
It’s just kind of fun having that type of competition. Being in the SEC, it’s very aggressive. So being able to just run into each other and run people over, it’s pretty fun.
Q. Who’s the best trash talker, you or Cam?
CALEB BANKS: Me. Cam kind of feeds off of my talking. He’s not really a trash talker. He’ll say stuff, but it will only be when I kind of initiate it. I go you suck. Then Cam will be like, yeah, you suck. It will kind of go like that.
Q. Who’s the biggest competition for you in terms of trash talker on the team?
CALEB BANKS: That’s a good question. I don’t know.
Q. What about on offense?
CALEB BANKS: Offense, oh, here we go. I would probably say Kingsley. Me and Kingsley talk trash to each other a lot. We be going at it.
Q. It’s got to be a DB, right? Those guys talk all the time.
CALEB BANKS: They don’t really say too much. They kind of just be out there doing their thing.
Q. As far as trash talking, do you practice it? Is it just your personality? Always been that way?
CALEB BANKS: It’s just me. I be joking around. I don’t really be serious. At the end of the game, it’s just football. That’s just how it is, stuff like that.
Q. Does it ever get inside your head?
CALEB BANKS: No, it doesn’t get in my head. When we played Charlotte, I told the guy, I’m getting in your head. He was like, you’re getting in there. We just started laughing. It was funny.
Q. Billy said after the game he feels like the way that the game against Charlotte went could give you guys an edge this week, just maybe playing them too close. He made a comment that he thinks that this group thrives off of hate. I guess people doubted you guys. What’s your reaction to that? Do you feel like he’s right?
CALEB BANKS: I feel like he’s correct. Honestly, I read everything. I see everything. It feeds like — it’s like fuel to my fire. It makes me go harder every play, every game, practice. I just saw that thing about it doesn’t mess with me at all. I kind of find it kind of funny sometimes.
Okay, that’s how you feel. When we win, you know what I’m saying?
Q. You don’t let it get to you?
CALEB BANKS: No, I don’t. I embrace it.
Photo credit: Molly Kaiser, UAA Communications