"Right now we're running them hard enough that they're getting plenty of work and we don't have to do anything afterwards," Teryl Austin said. I'm proud of our guys right now. They're really working hard. We're taxing them. We're pushing them and that's our job. We have to push them even more because the things we want to achieve are not average. They're above average. We have to practice that way and they have to work that way. We're getting there."
Senior linebacker Brandon Hicks was not able to attend the first scrimmage of the fall due to dehydration but Austin said he "will be fine and should be back in a few days."
Hicks' absence opened up some options for younger players, Austin said Saturday, but he did not clarify who started.
"Young linebackers got some good work today. We have some guys who have some flexibility to move around to different positions so we got a look at a lot of things. Chris Martin is another young guy that really showed up today."
Austin said it's nice to know they have some solid players to lean on if a cornerstone like Hicks is out.
"All of them have to play for us and they have to play well for us. If Hicks goes down, we expect whoever the next guy is to step in and do well."
Austin maintains that he has yet to name a starting three at the linebacker position. In fact, it seems the only sure starter on defense is CB Janoris Jenkins. Austin said that corner position across from Jenkins will likely be a battle between Moses Jenkins and Jeremy Brown.
"We've still got a few weeks but those guys will probably be in the lead to see who will be the next guy to start opposite Janoris."
Austin commented on Moses Jenkins, saying he was one of Saturday's star performers.
"(He works with) very tight coverage. He was in the right spots and did some good things out there. Sometimes as a corner you don't get a lot of looks, but when the ball does come your way, are you in position to make the play? He did that today."
Jeremy Brown is another viable option. Austin said he is impressed with what Brown continues to bring to the field.
"I'm really excited about him. When you have a guy that's dealt with some injury situations and then is able to come back and perform, I think everybody's excited about that. If you didn't know, you would have never thought he was out."
Another area that hasn't quite worked itself out on D is the defensive line. Austin is working with a wealth of talent and is hoping to find a way to utilize an entire toolbox of linemen.
"I think we're getting there. I think in the next few days we'll have it narrowed down but I think we have a good rotation. We have a good group of linemen and we have some good depth. The freshmen are going to give us some depth in there along with the veteran guys. I think it's a good mix and we just have to make sure we're getting everybody to play at a high level. If we can we'll rotate those guys around and keep them fresh because I think when your D-line isn't running every snap, 60-70 snaps a day, they're better and fresher. I think we might have that ability."
Two of the key freshmen linemen Austin mentioned- Ronald Powell and Sharrif Floyd- continue to catch the eye of their D-coordinator.
"The big thing we're looking for with those guys right now is just to get them to go hard and play hard and just try to make some football plays. So really that's the detail of it and they made some good football plays out there today. We're encouraged by that."
As for an overall assessment of his defense at the first fall scrimmage, it looks like Austin is passing out an ‘A' for effort.
"A lot of effort. A lot of guys are working hard and, you know, trying to get better. We're making progress."
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Austin Pushing the Defense to the Limit
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