Sugar still sour for corners

Louisville's DeVante Parker pulls in the pass for a touchdown against Florida's Loucheiz Purifoy during the first half of the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana in January.

Doug Finger/Staff Photographer
Published: Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 8:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 12:06 a.m.

Florida enters 2013 still looking for new starters at safety to replace Matt Elam and Josh Evans, but there’s no uncertainty with the cornerbacks.

The Gators have a pair of potential NFL first-round picks in juniors Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson and a plethora of depth behind them.

But despite the talent and numbers at the position, the returning corners still feel embarrassed.

The sour taste of the Sugar Bowl hasn’t left their mouths, and by design.

In the UF football facilities, there’s a huge sign with two scoreboards showing last year’s losses to Georgia and Louisville, along with the message, “Never Forget.”

“We based a lot of our offseason workouts on that so we will never forget the feeling of losing, especially to Louisville,” sophomore Brian Poole said. “With us being from the SEC and them being a Big East school, it wasn’t a good look.”

No unit looked worse in the bowl game than the UF secondary, which finished first in the SEC in passing defense and ranked second nationally in passing efficiency defense. But Florida’s defensive backs, specifically the corners, were picked apart by Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who threw for 266 yards and got an early start on his Heisman Trophy campaign.

“We didn’t have a good game,” Poole said. “They were just better than us that day. I feel like they might have been a little bit more focused than us. But no excuses, they just outplayed us.”

Senior Jaylen Watkins, who’s moving to safety this season, said the corners did not contain on the outside and let Louisville’s receivers get behind them.

“We had a goal to lock down every team. No balls thrown over our head, that’s our rule. We had a few thrown in that game,” Watkins said.

“We played great all season, but there’s still a bitter taste in our mouth from the last time we were on the gridiron. We just know we have to take it up another notch and make up for the bowl game.”

The Gators have kept that 33-23 loss fresh in their minds, but they’re also ready to put it behind them.

“We can’t dwell on it,” Roberson said. “We have to build off it so we don’t make those mistakes again. We’re ready to bring it this year.”

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top