Florida Defense Prepares for Dual Threat

When you think of a Steve Spurrier coached offense you think of a pass happy attack with a complimentary running game. Not this year's version of South Carolina's offense coached by Spurrier. Freshman running back Marcus Lattimore has been dynamic and compliments the Gamecocks big play ability in the passing game. Florida defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is preparing for both.

Florida's secondary has been the strength of the defense so far in 2010. However, stopping the run is always the thing that Florida wants first in any game. Both the pass and run defense will have to be prepared in this matchup for the SEC Eastern Division crown.

"They put you in a big dilemma there, so we are going to have to mix things up," Austin said about defending both the run and the pass. "We are going to have to pay attention to the back, but also to those big receivers outside. They do a pretty good job of catching the ball and running after the catch."

Slowing down the Gamecocks on first down is key to limiting the play book.

"You have to pick your spots," Austin said when asked about trying to be aggressive on first down. "If they get in 2nd-and-short it makes their offense really tough."

South Carolina sophomore receiver Alshon Jeffrey is a big time player and someone the Gators have to prepare extra for.

"He's a bigger guy and looks like he would be a heck of a basketball player," Austin said of Jeffrey. "He has tremendous hands. He is pretty good after the catch as well. He is like a lot of tall guys they don't look fast at the start, but once he gets moving, he's gone.

"He has the speed to get deep, but what is really impressive about him is the way he adjusts to the ball and catches the ball."

Look for Florida's junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins to guard Jeffrey most of the night. Jenkins has already had the assignment of trying to shut down Julio Jones of Alabama and A.J. Green of Georgia. He got the upper hand in both of those match ups.

"He will guard him, I don't know if he will be on him at all times," Austin said of Jenkins. "It is just natural when we have a good one and they have a good one, to try and put your best on them and they kind of wash each other out. Whoever has him, he will have his hands full."

"Janoris has played well this year and done a good job against big receivers. Overall, I will take what he has done so far."

As good as Jenkins has been, there is room for improvement. He sometimes gets caught up watching for the ball instead of guarding his man.

"I think the big things with all corners, sometimes they see too much," Austin said. "They get caught with double moves or get caught peeking, things like that. That is the biggest issue with him, he is so good and has improved with that. With some of those great moves he has, teams will try and take advantage of him.

"(To fix it), you give it to him in practice and give him double moves," Austin said. "You give him plays that will test his vision, and where his eyes are."

Florida also has its biggest cornerback back in action after some time off. Senior Moses Jenkins provides some size to guard against South Carolina's big receivers.

"Moses has practiced the last two weeks and he is pretty engaged in defense and on special teams," Austin said. "We will be utilizing Moses Jenkins. Florida will also have to worry about junior quarterback Stephen Garcia has the athletic ability to be a pain running the ball and can make all the throws that a quarterback at this level can possibly make.

"He has the ability to really impact the game," Austin said of Garcia. "We have to make sure we do a good job stopping the running game and making sure he doesn't have an outstanding game, because he can hurt you with his arm and his legs."

The Gators won't plan much different because of Garcia's skills, look for the same schemes they have been running for most of the year.

"We have our game plan and how we go after opponents and that is just what we do," he said. "I wouldn't say it is any different for him than anyone else."

The threat of run or pass is amplified with Garcia's deft ability to pull off the play-action pass. It is something the Gators have had issues with so far this season, getting sucked into the running game and the quarterback passing right over the linebackers in the middle of the field.

"It is definitely a threat," Austin said of the play-action. "When you play-action and have the wide outs one-on-one with your guys in the back end. When we need help, we want to make sure that help gets back there to supplement the coverage."

Austin's defense improved last week even if against a sub-standard Vanderbilt squad. Still, he liked the progress his squad made.

"Last week we were much more sound in our gaps, much better in tackling and better in our drops," he said. "When there was play-action pass. They ran play action against our linebackers and got them close to the line of scrimmage and took advantage of the room behind us. We worked on that last week, but that is always a work in progress."


Look for junior defensive tackle Jaye Howard to be back this weekend after a missing two games with an ankle injury. Howard is a play maker on the interior and will be welcomed back for that ability of his.

"Jaye has practiced the last two days and we are hopeful to have him out there Saturday," Austin said Wednesday.
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