Defense Hangs Tough

Staying cool when the heat is on, John Lovett's pupils helped keep the high-powered Florida attack in check.

Auburn, Ala.--Defensive coordinator John Lovett liked what he saw on Saturday night and isn't shy about saying so. His pupils held the Florida Gators to four touchdowns under their regular scoring average and to 328 total yards, which is 267 shy of Florida's normal output.

"Our kids played really well," Lovett said. "They hung with it. We talked with them all week about playing together, staying patient and not getting frustrated. We knew we had a lot of guys nicked up and banged up. We knew we just had to believe in who was out there and play together and they did a great job with that."

Lovett said he was particularly proud of the job done by redshirt freshman linebacker Mayo Sowell and redshirt sophomore Philip Pate at the inside the linebacker spots. Each had an interception and each played most of the game due to injuries to Mark Brown, Tavarreus Pounds, Dontarrious Thomas and Brandon Johnson.

Mayo Sowell came through when needed on Saturday night.

"Everybody was patting them on the back and encouraging them," Lovett said. "We told them all week that we don't know who is going to be out there so we were going to roll everybody in the secondary and everybody on the defensive line. Even though we had two guys out there at inside linebacker who were new, so what? Let's just go play. Everybody has a job to do and just do it the best they can."

Pate's return to the football field was an impressive one after making a recovery from major knee surgery in spring training. "After I made a tackle on my first play, I knew I was going to be all right," Pate said. "I just wanted to go out there and have fun. This is pretty much a dream come true for me."

Sowell said he wasn't nervous in his first significant playing time in college. "Truthfully, I went out knowing that I was the only one there so if I messed up, I am still going to be there. So, if I do good, I am still going to be there. So I was thinking, ‘hey, I might as well do good.' I messed up a couple of times, but I did OK."

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