Notebook: UF defense about set
Published: Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 3:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 3:02 p.m.
With a week left until Florida's opener against Miami of Ohio, the Gators' defense is finally starting to take shape. It's not a definite shape, but it's close.
Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said after Saturday's practice that his second cornerback spot and linebacker positions are yet to be finalized, but they are in the last stages of completion.
Earlier in the week, the linebacker rotation was down to seniors A.J. Jones and Brandon Hicks at the strong and weak sides with redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins battling sophomore Jon Bostic in the middle. Nothing has changed, Austin said, but he's feeling more comfortable playing any of the four Saturday.
"We feel confident with any of those guys on the field," he said.
While Bostic received time at Mike linebacker last year, Austin said because of his speed he has the versatility to move outside if needed, but thinks he's better suited inside. Jenkins will stay inside, where Austin said he's made vast improvements since the spring.
Austin said Jenkins has always had the speed, saying he "runs like crazy" but what has advanced his progress the most is his ability to pick up offensive reads at a quicker pace on the field.
"He really looks fast now when he diagnoses his plays out there," Austin said.
At corner, junior Janoris Jenkins is the only definite starter, while redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown and senior Moses Jenkins are competing for the spot opposite him. It's unknown whether Brown or Moses Jenkins have the edge heading into game week, but Austin said if Brown doesn't start on the outside he will start inside at the nickel position.
If Brown starts at corner, Austin said freshman safety Matt Elam will start at nickel.
Austin added he's got a pretty good idea of who will be starting against Miami of Ohio, but is keeping that thought "close to the vest."
What appears to be set for Florida is its defensive line. Austin said senior Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens will start at the ends and redshirt sophomore Omar Hunter and redshirt junior Jaye Howard will start inside.
"I don't see that changing right now," he said.
While those four should start, he expects a heavy rotation both inside and outside to keep his guys fresh. Freshmen interior linemen Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley have "earned" playing time, Austin said, and with seniors Brandon Antwine, Lawrence Marsh and Terron Sanders healthy Austin hopes to get around 30-40 "quality" snaps out of his tackles each game.
"Really, you better have four starters inside because to play 60 snaps as a nose (tackle) in a three technique in the SEC you'll wear down and you'll be out of there, they'll knock you around," he said. "We gotta be fresh."
UF names captains
Five Florida football players have been named captains for the 2010 season, head coach Urban Meyer announced Saturday. The captains were voted on by their teammates.
The captains are: senior safety Ahmad Black, redshirt senior linebacker A.J. Jones, senior defensive end Duke Lemmens, senior center Mike Pouncey and senior defensive end Justin Trattou.
McCray making strides
Austin said one guy getting closer to earning playing time on the defensive line is redshirt sophomore end Lerentee McCray. After moving from linebacker to end, Austin said McCray has finally stepped up and become a more consistent athlete on the field.
Now that McCray's technique has improved, Austin said while he's still has a ways to go, McCray is being relied on more in practice to make plays.
"He used to be kind of a run-around guy and he's gotten better in his technique, which allows him to play a little bit better as a football player within our defense," Austin said. "That's where he's starting to make some strides."
Another player who has impressed coaches of late is freshman linebacker Neiron Ball. Austin said he expects Ball to eventually become a "dynamic player" at outside linebacker for Florida.
Austin on Jelani Jenkins being criticized for possibly being undersized at Mike linebacker: "I don't care what they think. I know what he does for us. I could care less what anybody else thinks."
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