Defense Looking for ways to Improve

Florida defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has seen enough of the long, drawn out offensive drives by the opponent. His defense is spending too much time on the field. They are forcing enough third down situations, but it's that final stop that isn't being made.

"We haven't been very good on third down defense in the last three games," Teryl Austin said. "It's very important to stop drives. Whether it's a missed tackle or coverage executed how it shouldn't have been, we haven't been able to get off the field. That's a huge issue we have to address to stop the possession."

Even when Florida's defense had a "bend but don't break" look in recent years, they were forcing enough turnovers where the lack of three-and-outs wasn't an issue. Now the Gators can't get either.

"(Turnovers) will start coming," Austin said. "A couple times, we didn't get the bounces. (Against Mississippi State), there weren't many opportunities. It's positive momentum because your defense gets excited about it. We're a few plays away from being better."

Jelani Jenkins intercepted LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson two weeks ago, which serves as the only turnover forced by the Florida defense in the past three weeks.

"Any defense feeds off that," Austin said. "It's a great momentum changer and you feel good about what you're doing. When you don't get those, it does bring you down a little bit."

The Florida defense is use to forcing the turnovers, which serve as emotional plays to get the team and home crowd energized. Instead, the home crowd has seen two straight losses.

Austin has been coaching his defense to stay focused on the task, and he's seeing it keep them from being frustrated.

"I wouldn't say they're frustrated," Austin said. "Turnovers go in bunches. In the last three games, we've only got two. Normally when we get more than that, we feel better about things."

The defense isn't the only group affected by the lack of turnovers. The struggling offense could use some short fields to score, but the defense hasn't been able to help them out.

"We'd get some positive field position for the offense," Austin said. "There's nothing worse than having to drive a long field."

The run defense is an area the Gators have always succeeded in. In the second half against Mississippi State, they couldn't get the Bulldogs off the field.

"It's a work in progress," Austin said. "In some instances, I have to make better calls for our guys. It's a combination of things. What you're finding out is teams are going to run against us because they don't want to take a shot down the field because we have done a good job against the pass."

The strong Florida secondary could get a boost when the Gators take on Georgia in Jacksonville. Cornerback Moses Jenkins hyper extended his elbow early in the season, but there is a chance he will return against the Bulldogs.

"He's been out there practicing and he's coming along," Austin said. "He's progressing fine. We're not contacting him or anything, but he's running around and took some reps with the first team nickel."
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