Austin Pleased with Veteran Leadership

The veteran leadership after Saturday's loss to Alabama is what defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was hoping to see. His upperclassmen weren't familiar with how to lead after a loss, but the lack of experience in the situation didn't temper their effectiveness.

"There aren't a lot of losses here to reach back and talk about," Teryl Austin said after Wednesday's practice. "The one thing they did is know that what happened Saturday, we can't change that. The seniors have led the way, and they're trying to bring the young guys. What happened last Saturday has no effect on what happens this Saturday."

The Florida secondary's play started out impressive but has slowly slipped to average in recent weeks. Free safety Will Hill isn't helping them out. The junior hasn't made a significant play on a pass since returning from a two-game suspension to start the season.

When asked if Hill is performing up to Austin's expectations, he answered with a stern, simple "no."

"He has the ability to be an impact player," Austin said. "He's big, has range and can tackle. He can do all the things the great safeties around here have done. He hasn't taken that step yet, but we need him to take it. He's been working hard. We've got to get it to carry into games."

The lack of production is even more confusing after he was all over the field in fall camp. Word out of two-a-days was that Hill was finally turning into the safety he was billed as coming out of high school. He was going sideline-to-sideline to break up passes and someone quarterbacks were scared to throw at. This season, he has become just another guy on the field.

"He had an outstanding fall camp," Austin said. "He started out a little slow. There could be any number of reasons (for his regression this season). I had a good talk with Will, and I think he'll start to show improvement. Sometimes as a player, you start pushing and pressing. You want to make things perfect and make them right all the time. That's not going to happen in this game. He did not want to make a mistake, and that slowed him down some."

While Hill is still working to meet expectations, Duke Lemmens has been exceeding them. His play at outside linebacker in the 5-2 defense has surprised people. In only his second game playing the outside linebacker position, Lemmens recorded a team-high eight tackles.

His natural position is defensive end, so the coaches also chose to use him as a blitzer off the edge.

"What we're getting from Duke is great effort," Austin said. "He plays in space better than you think. He's a 250-pound guy on the edge, and that helps solidify some of the run lanes."

The Florida defense can't hang their head for long. A struggling LSU offense is coming to town, and any slip up from the Gators defense could be the jumpstart the Tigers need. They must keep momentum on the sideline of the home team.

The Gators failed to steal momentum at Alabama, allowing them to convert crucial third downs in the first quarter. It's something they have spent time working on in practice this week.

LSU brings in a two-quarterback system this week. Even though Tigers head coach Les Miles says Jordan Jefferson will start, Jarrett Lee is also expected to see playing time.

"With Jefferson, he can break the pocket and break us down," Austin said. "He makes plays that aren't there. You have to tackle him almost like a running back. Lee is a classic drop back passer who has good arm strength and pretty good accuracy. It's like preparing for two different guys."

The quarterback play has been average at best, but the Tigers run game has taken enough pressure off the offense to lead the team to a 5-0 record.

Running back Stevan Ridley leads the SEC with 111.4 yards per game. This is the third time in four conference games that the Gators will face the SEC's leading rusher at the time.

"The big thing is he doesn't go down on first contact," Austin said. "He gets through that hole fast and gets to that next level. He's not afraid to run through tackles. He runs with great pad level. As a defense, you've got to put your body on him to tackle him."
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