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Offensive line holds its own

The status quo is in _ at least for the moment.

Florida's maligned offensive line got high praise from coach Steve Spurrier after lineup changes that added a freshman and a sophomore to the already-inexperienced outfit.

Freshman Jason Odom replaced junior Ryan Taylor at right tackle and sophomore David Swain played for injured senior Dexter Smith at left guard.

Spurrier didn't exactly guarantee Swain a position when Smith's groin pull is healed, but the offensive line probably will remain intact for another week.

"It's hard to say without looking at the films, but off the cuff, I thought the new guys held their own," said offensive line coach Rich McGeorge. "This lineup certainly deserves the opportunity to start against Auburn next week."

The Gators gained 164 yards rushing after getting a combined 121 yards the previous two weeks. And quarterback Shane Matthews was sacked twice, but one was when he slipped and fell.

Two interception firsts

For the record, it took four weeks, 15 quarters and 85 pass attempts by opponents before Florida's defense got its first interception of the year.

Redshirt freshman Ben Hanks got his first career interception and returned it 28 yards in the fourth quarter. At the time, the grab appeared to seal UF's victory. Of course, four minutes later LSU had scored a touchdown and was threatening for another.

Houston plays _ and contributes

It didn't look good for Harrison Houston at midweek. Florida's leading receiver had not practiced since injuring his ankle against Mississippi State, and Spurrier said the junior might apply for a medical redshirt.

So maybe that was an exaggeration.

Houston was on the field for Florida's first possession of the second half and later made a diving 38-yard reception at the one to set up an Errict Rhett touchdown run.

"We felt we needed to play Harrison to win a ballgame," Spurrier said. "Right now, he's our best receiver."

No action from Willie Jackson

Last season, he was one of the top receivers in the Southeastern Conference. And now Willie Jackson is probably only the fourth most effective on his own team.

The difference has not escaped Spurrier.

"I'm disappointed with the way Willie Jackson is playing," Spurrier said. "I don't know what's happened to Willie, but he's too good an athlete to be playing the way he is at this point."

Jackson is averaging less than 40 yards receiving per outing and has one touchdown in four games. Last season, Jackson averaged 66 yards per game and had 10 touchdowns.

Familiar pose, different outfit

The pose was familiar:

Standing on the sidelines with his arms folded while watching Florida's offense on the field.

This time, Donald Douglas was wearing boots instead of cleats and he wasn't waiting for the coaches to call his name.

The former Florida quarterback, who transferred to Houston shortly after Spurrier's arrival in Gainesville in 1990, took advantage of an off-week to see his old team play.

"I've kept in touch with a lot of the guys," Douglas said. "All of the guys I came in with as freshmen, we've stayed pretty close. We had an open week, so I decided to come down and do some visiting."

Next up

Florida hosts Auburn on Saturday in a noon game to be televised on Ch.

10. Auburn lost to Mississippi State 14-7 Saturday.

_ JOHN ROMANO and KEITH NIEBUHR

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