Gator Defense Got It Done, Too

The Florida Gators are enjoying being 4-0 on the year, 2-0 in the SEC and having played its most complete game of the season Saturday night. Florida walloped Kentucky 48-14 and it's understandable that most, if not all, the attention has been focused on the Gator offense in general and the remarkable performance of freshman Trey Burton in particular.

After all it's not often… okay it's never happened, that a Gator scores six touchdowns in a single game.

But it seems that lost in all the offensive glory is a fine performance by the Florida defense.

Teryl Austin's crew held a very good Kentucky offense to just 352 total yards, which is 145 below their average. The Gators forced Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline to throw his first two interceptions of the season, one of which the defense turned into its third "pick six" of the season when Jeremy Brown snagged a Mike Hartline pass and raced 52 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 Gator lead. The Wildcats came into Gainesville averaging 44 points a game and put just 14 on the board in The Swamp.

Kentucky managed just two scoring drives on the day and one of them was aided by a highly questionable replay overrule that gave the ‘Cats 42 yards and ended with a fake field goal. Other than that, the Gators did reasonably good job on Derrick Locke (23-103) and did not allow any other plays of over 20 yards. Austin spoke with me and other media people about the performance of his unit.

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MP: How important was the pick six by Jeremy Brown?

TA: "The percentages go up if you come up with a pick six on defense. You chances of winning go way up."

MP: Jeremy says he watched lots of video to try and make up for not being healthy the past two years. How much has that helped him?

TA: "It's paid off a ton. I think anytime a guy takes film work and really studies the game it's going to pay off for him and that's what's happened with Jeremy. As a defensive back you don't play every route every play, but (by watching video) you can cut it down by formation and situation and that's what he did. He made a great play."

MP: For the second week in a row you held the league's leading rusher pretty much in check. Talk about how you've been able to do that.

TA: "It's just emphasis. I think a really big thing with our guys is running as hard as we can from point "a" to point "b". We're trying to get as many guys around the ball as we can. I think when our first group was in there we did a pretty good job of stopping the run."

LV: You talked earlier in the week about the size of the outside receivers. You had some success there, but so did they. How difficult was that for your guys, especially the corners?

TA: "It was tough. They went after Cody (Riggs) a little bit early. He competed hard, but it was just a size mismatch for him. Those are things that as he gets a little older he'll learn how to do some things a little bit better and we'll help him by coaching him a little bit better."

LV: Will this experience help them next week when they face Julio Jones who is one of the best big receivers in the country?

TA: "Yes it will. You wish you could simulate all those things in practice because you can't because everybody doesn't have those real big guys. So when they get experience like that in a game, hopefully it will carry over the next time they run into that same situation."

LV: You blitzed them a lot. Did you feel you got enough pressure on Hartline when you didn't blitz him?

TA: "Yeah we did. I think we actually had a nice hit on the quarterback with a three man rush with JT (Justin Trattou). I think our rush is doing enough to get pressure on him, but I think in coverage we didn't do enough to take his first option away on some of those "under" routes and he was able to get the ball in there."

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Through four games, the Gator defense is allowing just 94 yards a game on the ground and less than 300 yards of total offense per game. Florida has yet to allow any opponent to score more than 17 points in a contest. The Gators have forced 14 turnovers including 12 pass interceptions while surrendering just six touchdowns. All of those numbers will be challenged when the Gators take on Alabama next Saturday.


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