Austin Preparing for Battle

Nothing can really compare to the rigors of warfare, but when playing and coaching football in the SEC, you want to have guys you can trust and by your side. Earning that trust is huge and Florida defensive coordinator Teryl Austin trusts a great deal of the players he will coach on the field Saturday's in The Swamp. The defense is strong up the middle, but Austin likes his group as a whole.

Teryl Austin has only been on campus with Florida for about seven months and he has worked the relationship with the defensive players enough to trust them. In the high stakes game that is college football, everyone has to do their part and Austin likes what his group brings to the table.

"There are quite a few guys that I would take them in a dark alley with me and have them in my fox hole," Austin said about his trust in his defensive personnel. "There are a few others on the edge that we have to get them ready so we feel comfortable bringing them in with you. The majority of these guys are willing to get out there and fight for you."

The Gators will be strong up front in 2010. Five defensive tackles return that each have a great deal of experience. One of the real play makers in the group is junior Jaye Howard, who Austin says has really worked to make himself a better person and player since last season.

"I am more comfortable with Jaye," Austin said. "He is giving a little more consistent work effort and in practice. He is trying to prepare a little better and doing better in film study. If you can put all of those things together it usually means you are starting to improve and mature as a young man. Hopefully the results will show on Saturday."

The other starting defensive tackle has always been a guy that was solid, but maybe not spectacular. Sophomore Omar Hunter has really stepped up in the offseason and Austin thinks the big man will have even a bigger year.

"I think Omar has been one of our more consistent players throughout the spring and in fall camp," Austin said. "He is one of those guys that you put him in your fox hole if you need him. He battles really hard and is technique sound. I expect him to have a heck of a year. With all the work he put in, you (would) like to see that come to fruition."

Along with Hunter and Howard at tackle, seniors Terron Sanders, Lawrence Marsh, and Brandon Antwine have a ton of experience and upside. Two true freshmen are also game ready in Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley. Austin loves the consistency he feels they will get form such a deep group.

"We are seeing some push and some improvement," Austin said. "Coach McCarney does a great job and they are working hard. I think we have some good depth in there. As the game wears on and goes on, we can keep throwing fresh bodies at people who have the ability to push the pocket and you will get the push you need."

That push inside should help with the new starters at defensive end and freeing them up some, but Austin says it will have to be a collaborative effort up front.

"It's a combination," Austin said of a necessary push in the middle and on the edge from his defensive line. "It always helps when you have a push up the middle so guys don't cheat outside. As many times as you can get a one on one, that is what you have to do."

Behind this defensive line is a group of linebackers that have elite NFL like athletic ability. On Wednesday, Austin didn't shy away from talking about their athleticism.

"We have some guys that can really run, I am really impressed with how they move," Austin said. "Not just straight ahead, they move well laterally. That is good to have."

The linebackers like a few other positions on defense are being asked to learn multiple positions. In the end, the staff wants to get the best 11 players on the field at the same time. That may require one or more players to move to positions that they didn't start the game or the season.

"Any time you can learn more than one position, you learn more about the defense," Austin said noting the positives. "If you get penciled in and see this is all I have to do right here, sometimes you don't see the big picture. As a player when you have to learn another position you learn the big picture and that helps."

Austin has had a little bit of a re-learning curve if you will. Having spent the last seven years coaching in the NFL, he has been away from the recruiting game. Although it isn't a skill he forgot, it is something that is totally different than what he has been accustomed to doing for quite some time.

"The biggest adjustment is you have to throw in recruiting," he said. "It is something we have to worry about because we have to get good players. Recruiting is 24-7 here, that is the way we have to do it...At the end of the day we have to have good players here if you want to win this conference."

Austin won't gloat, but believes he can hold his own in recruiting and that his efforts will show up in February. He did recruit with some of the best programs in college football for the first 11 years of his career.

"I think I do okay," he said of his recruiting prowess. "Obviously there is always room for improvement, but I guess the results will show with next year's signing class. I did it for a long time."

A couple of things have changed since the last time he had to put on the recruiter hat. The stars of college football recruiting are getting more notoriety and hoopla than ever before. Egos can become gigantic and when they get on the college campuses, sometimes those egos have to be put in check.

"That is a little different," Austin said of the change in publicity for high school stars. "The amount of attention, websites, the all-American games, and all the different things these young men get. They are getting so much media exposure before they ever step on campus. It is tough and a little different.

"You never had to deal with that before. Guys used to come in and learn their way. With all this media they come in and think they are ready to go but they really don't quite understand what it takes to be a college football player.

"There is an adjustment period. I think when we recruit these guys and once they get here we have to let them know that all of that doesn't matter. What matters is how you do when you put on our uniform."

When they come in with the exploding egos, Austin isn't one that shies away from helping them check those egos at the door.

"I have no problem telling anyone the truth," he quipped.

And while he has quite a few veterans and a few newcomers that are ready to fight with him and that he trusts, there are still a few that need some guidance. This is where 19 years of coaching experience comes in handy for Teryl Austin so that in the end they can join him in that fox hole.
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