During his four-year run as Mississippi State’s defensive coordinator from 2011-14, Geoff Collins became known as the “Minister of Mayhem,” and the system he ran earned the moniker “Psycho Defense” due to the aggressive nature of the scheme.

Collins is now working as the DC at Florida, preparing for new head coach Jim McElwain’s debut season in Gainesville this fall. He brought his intimidating nickname and even more intimidating defensive system with him to the Sunshine State in hopes of elevating an already productive Florida defense in the coming years.

It’s worth noting the Gators struggles at the end of the Will Muschamp era were focused on the offensive side of the ball, and Muschamp’s defenses ranked in the top 5 in the SEC in total defense all four of his seasons with the Gators.

But Muschamp was obviously not going to take a demotion at his former school, and when he was replaced by McElwain, the new head coach decided Collins was the man to maintain Florida’s prominence on that side of the ball.

So what will Collins bring to a Florida defense already stocked with talent? To answer that question one must approach it with two answers: a short-term answer and a long-term answer.

In the short term, Collins will simply have to begin installing and teaching his Psycho Defense to a new crop of players, even though he had a hand in recruiting very few of Florida’s current defensive players to play in his system.

There may be some awkward fits at certain positions, and he may have to make some in-season adjustments to compensate until he has a few recruiting classes under his belt, but the best way to lay the foundation on that side of the ball is to hit the ground running in teaching the defense beginning this spring.

Collins’ defense is predicated on aggressive play in the front seven by long, athletic defensive ends and linebackers. He’s been known to drop ends into coverage and blitz linebackers up the middle and off the edges, or vice versa. The key is to maintain athleticism throughout the front seven so players can line up all over the field and make plays in a variety of ways.

This initiative will be aided tremendously this fall by Florida’s stellar secondary, led by two-time All-SEC cornerback Vernon Hargreaves. The secondary may be left on an island at times, but the Gators corners can certainly handle it. And if the front seven gives a variety of different looks it should keep opposing offenses off balance even as Collins continues to find the best fits for his system.

Finding the right fits is the long-term answer to the question asked above. In the next handful of years Collins must find defensive players who not only possess raw football talent but who are tall, lengthy and move well both laterally and downhill. Dominant power or blazing speed are less vital than an ideal combination of size and agility, which allows players in the front seven to be more versatile and thus more aggressive.

During his four years at MSU, Collins coached the following defensive linemen and linebackers now starring in the NFL: Cameron Lawrence, Deontae Skinner, Fletcher Cox and Denico Autry. Benardrick McKinney and Preston Smith will join that list this year.

Aside from Cameron twice and McKinney once, none of those players ever recorded more than 70 tackles in any season during their careers. And yet they all blossomed under Collins and went on to even better careers in the NFL due to the versatile nature of the Psycho Defense.

Opponents never know who is coming from where, but that system requires players with particular builds and skills. Collins must begin seeking out those players in the coming years to make his scheme work in Gainesville.

“His defenses have been successful everywhere he has been,” McElwain told GatorZone.com after Collins was hired. “…Our players will continue to progress under his direction.”

That’s the hope in Gainesville. Whether or not the Psycho Defense will live up to its name in the SEC East will be determined this fall.