The transition from junior college wasn't as easy as Melvin Lewis expected it to be.
"In junior college, you basically just go," Kentucky's starting defensive tackle explained. "You don't learn the different techniques and stuff like that."
Luckily for Lewis, he had a tutor right at home.
The Cats' two starting tackles, fifth-year senior Mike Douglas and Lewis, are roommates.
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Their close proximity has paid big dividends for UK, which will play Florida on Saturday night in Gainesville.
"We watch film every night at home and then once we get here, we just set up in the meeting room and watch film together as well," Lewis said.
When he doesn't understand a technique or is unclear what defensive coaches are saying, Lewis knows he can just ask his roommate, who has played at different spots in different schemes for the Kentucky defense.
"I think that gives him a big jump just because we live together," Douglas said.
"Melvin's gotten a whole lot better technique-wise and understanding how our defense works and where he has to be within our defense, because without him, he's the linchpin and everything ripples off what he does."
And Douglas insists that it's not just Lewis who is benefiting from being a room away from the guy playing next to him on the line.
There's so much minutiae at their positions, it's been nice to bounce ideas off each other, both said. If one guy misses something, he can always ask his roommate.
"We talk football all the time," Douglas said. "He gets on me when I'm slacking, and I get on him when he's slacking. When we're at home, I just try to do everything I can to explain it."
It's been a positive relationship, defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh said of Douglas and Lewis. Douglas has six tackles this season, including 1.5 for a loss and a sack as well as a pass breakup. Lewis has four tackles.
"They've really got good confidence," said Brumbaugh, a former All-Southeastern Conference tackle at Auburn. "Mike Douglas has done a good job in helping to develop Melvin.
"Being a junior college guy coming in last year, it really helps to put him in a situation that can teach him the game. It's really been helpful to us."
Kentucky's entire defensive line spent time this offseason getting to know one another better, senior defensive end Alvin "Bud" Dupree explained.
"We've tried to learn each other a little more this offseason, make sure we know what a guy's tendency is," Dupree said. "Mike and Melvin knowing each other so well plays a big role in that."
Having Lewis and Douglas work so well together as a unit has helped the entire defense. If they can work together to stop the run, it forces opponents to the perimeter where players like Dupree can stop them.
Kentucky's outside edges are a concern for Florida, Coach Will Muschamp said this week.
The Gators are keeping a collective eye on the Cats' defensive line, especially Dupree, Za'Darius Smith and Jason Hatcher. The UK line has accounted for seven of the Cats' 13 tackles for loss this season.
"Two very good pass rushers, you've got to account for those guys on the edges," Muschamp said. "They run extremely well at linebacker, but the thing you see is they're playing fast, they're playing with a lot of confidence defensively."
Kentucky's defensive line will try to feast on a newly reconfigured Florida offensive line (coached by former UK offensive line coach Mike Summers) that is without starting left tackle D.J. Humphries, who has a high ankle sprain and bone chip.
The Gators will move Chaz Green to Humphries' spot, and redshirt freshman Rod Johnson will take over for Green at right tackle.
Muschamp liked the way Johnson played in relief in the opener against Eastern Michigan but acknowledged Johnson is still learning.
"As the game wore on, we thought he played very well," Muschamp said of Johnson. "(He) really settled down as far as protection was concerned."
Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops has been pleased with the tackles as a whole, including Regie Meant (six tackles, including two for a loss), Matt Elam (two tackles) and C.J. Johnson.
"I feel like they're doing some good things," Stoops said. "I really do. Mike really played well this past week. Melvin has been doing some nice things. He's coming along. So, overall we're getting better and better."