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Notebook: Depth at tailback presents challenge for Gators

GAINESVILLE -- LSU is just ninth in the Southeastern Conference in rushing (197.33 y/g), but Jeremy Hill -- the Tigers’ physical load at tailback -- trails only South Carolina’s Mike Davis in total yards in the conference.

LSU’s four-headed monster in the backfield includes Hill, Kenny Hilliard, Alfred Blue and Terrence Magee -- with Hill as the lead workhorse.

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(Jeremy Hill | Courtesy SI.com)

The 6-foot-2, 238-pound sophomore tailback is averaging 7.52 yards per carry and nearly 120 yards per game.
Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin called it a “real challenge” to stop any of the Tigers’ backs.

“They’re all talented, all those guys do a great job. When you watch the cut-ups from the tape, it’s not like the offense is changing much when [a different guy is] in there,” Durkin said. “They’re running their offense because all those guys can do it. They can all put a foot in the ground, they can break tackles, they can hit the big ones, and they’ve all had big plays. And they can all catch out of the backfield. The challenge is you’ve got a fresh guy in there running the ball and you’ve got to wrap him up and tackle.”

NEXT IN LINE

Durkin said freshman defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick would be the first player off the bench if the Gators run into depth issues at tackle this weekend.

Bostwick has yet to play this season and remains a likely redshirt candidate if he’s not needed over the next several weeks.

“Jay-nard is doing well. He’s continued to progress like a normal freshman would,” Durkin said. “He hasn’t had a lot of game time thus far, but he is ready if needed and if he has to go in there and do it. He’s practicing really well. He has made great improvements since day one until now, like most of our freshmen have. We’re going to keep prepping him and getting him ready every week and see what happens.”

ROBERSON RETURNS BUT…

Florida’s all-conference cornerback Marcus Roberson -- sidelined for three games -- is expected to return from a knee injury this weekend at LSU, but Durkin wouldn’t tip his hand if the junior defensive back would regain his starting job.

““We’ll see. We always determine that stuff at the end of the week,” Durkin said. “We keep our practices competitive at all spots, not just there. We play the guys or start the guys that practice the best and are playing the best.”

Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III has played terrific in Roberson’s absence and has rapidly developed into one of the nation’s top underclassmen.

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