Chris Leak leads the Gators

ATHENS -- Nine quarterbacks in the SEC, including ones who play at Vanderbilt and Mississippi State, have thrown for more yards per game this season than Florida's Chris Leak.

And the true freshman has thrown eight interceptions, second-most in the league. It's enough to make the nation's No. 1 defense, which No. 4 Georgia will throw at Chris Leak on Saturday, salivate, right? Apparently not if you're the Bulldogs, who watched Leak lead Florida to a win over LSU in Baton Rouge three weeks after Georgia failed to do just that.

"I think he's a special player, I really do," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "The presence he has is really amazing for a true freshman. I think there are juniors and seniors around the league and the country you could probably rattle more than him."

Despite his modest yardage, Leak is fifth in the league in passing efficiency, three spots ahead of Georgia's David Greene. He is 3-1 since being named Florida's starter and is just the second Gator freshman to lead the team to wins over two Top 15 teams on the road.

"I think the one thing that ... (offensive coordinator) Ed Zaunbrecher and the staff have done is give Chris a little bit at a time," Florida coach Ron Zook said. "He's grasped what we've coached him to grasp. Each week he's gotten better and better and he'll continue to get better."

Leak is coming off a career-best, 269-yard performance against Arkansas two weeks ago, and he has just one interception in his last 64 attempts. That one came against the Razorbacks.

"He may make a mistake here and again, but you can tell he's got a lot of confidence and a lot of talent," Richt said. "He's just going to be a great player. He's already pretty darn good right now."

Leak said he's concentrating on "playing smarter and doing a better job managing things," and he doesn't seemed fazed by the prospect of facing Georgia's defense, which leads the SEC in passing defense (157.1).

"This game has been going on since before we were born," he said. "It's just a real special feeling to be a part of that."

Georgia receiver Mario Raley was a teammate of Leak's at Independence High School in Charlotte, N.C. The pair last talked the day after Leak led the Gators over LSU, Raley said.

"I wish the best for him just like he does for me," Raley said. "I told him I'd see him on the 50-yard line after the game."

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