Defense Played Hard, Didn't Make Plays

The Florida defense had a tough task at hand on Saturday night and got off to a start that was too much to overcome. The Alabama offense scored 24 points in the first 24 minutes of the game, and then couldn't score for the remainder of the game. Florida defensive coordinator Teryl Austin knows his defense has to start better, especially in games of this magnitude.

Alabama got off to a torrid start against Florida on Saturday and along with the 24 points, 202 of their 273 yards were tallied in those first 24 minutes. The onslaught at the beginning was all about not making plays when they presented themselves to the defense.

"Early on we didn't tackle well and then I think we settled down and tackled better," Teryl Austin said. "I think there were some things they did that were good and we didn't react to them well early, then we got it fixed. The biggest thing is when we had an opportunity to make a play early in the game…when the quarterback scrambles and dumps it off to the back and he gets 10 yards. Things like that when we couldn't get off the field and change the momentum….we couldn't do that and we normally do that."

Greg McElroy is the crafty veteran quarterback for Alabama that has yet to lose a high school or college game. He showed that craftiness a few times avoiding the pass rush and making a play out of seemingly nothing. He was part of an Alabama offense that wasn't spectacular, but also did not turn the ball over at all.

"The quarterback did a great job and they did a great job of protecting the ball," Austin said. We didn't do a good job of getting after it and any opportunities we may have had, we didn't take advantage of it. When we look back on it, we know we have to do better

With such a lopsided score, one would think it was big play after big play that burned Florida. That really wasn't the case. There were a few key plays for first downs, but sophomore running back Trent Richardson had one run for 30 yards in the game and Alabama never had another play more than 20 yards the rest of the night.

"It was a little different game for whatever reason," Austin said. "We didn't do anything really bad, we just didn't do anything exceptional to make the plays and change the momentum that you need to do on the road. In these types of games, that really gets your team going and gets you over the hump. Our guys battled hard and competed hard. Those are two of the finest backs you will see. For the most part we did a good job of attacking them and tackling them, but we were never able to make a play to give us some momentum defensively."

When the onslaught comes, the coaches just have to be on the players to settle down and do the job they know how to do. It took 24 minutes of regulation, but the defense seemed to do just that.

"We talk about keeping your composure keep playing hard," he said. "Stay in your fundamentals and play as hard as you can and try to make a play. That's how you get the tide turned, you play one play at a time and as you go, you are hoping that as you win each play, you get something that helps you shift the momentum, and we didn't do that tonight.

"We made a few adjustments that we always do at halftime, but I think it was more of our players buckling down and doing a better job of tackling and playing in their gaps. I think that was the big difference."

The fact that Alabama slowed down so much doesn't ease any pain for Austin. He understands his troops got it handed to them Saturday night.

"The only number that I care about at the end of the day is how many they scored and how many we scored," he said. "When you give up 24 points in the first half we didn't do a good job. We have to play better defense."

One thing is for sure, there is no rest for the weary. Highly ranked LSU comes to Gainesville in a week and the Gators have to correct their mistakes and move on to another tough game.

"You don't have very much time whether it's a win or loss to reflect on it," Austin said. "You have to make your corrections and go.

"We have to find out what we did and things to correct. It will be a quick turnaround. We are going to get right back on the ground. Nobody feels sorry for us; nobody should feel sorry for us. Our guys are going to get back to work. We have a talented team coming in next week and they could care less what happened to us today."

Austin believes this will be a learning moment for his team. The team could go in different directions, but he expects a big rebound.

"We will come back," he said. "We have some tough guys up front, some veteran guys up front. To a man, we will look at this tape and look at what we did well and did poorly and go back and get to work. I think those guys have enough leadership to help us get better and keep moving forward.

"When you come from a tough loss like this, you find out a lot about your team top to bottom, coaches and players and what we're going to do. I think we'll go back and get better, work harder, correct the mistakes we made, and see if we can be better next week. Each week our goal is to be better than the week before and we have a big task ahead of us."

Don't count this Gator team out just yet. Austin was asked if the score really described the difference between the two top ten teams.

"I can only say, the scoreboard is what it is, but I like our team…I like our team," he said. "I don't like what happened today, but I like our team."
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