Notebook: Star secondary back together again for Gators

Florida defensive back Marco Wilson (3) celebrates his interception with teammates in the fourth quarter Saturday against Auburn at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

In the team’s biggest game of the season to date, the Gators were once again without one of their top defensive playmakers.

Defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga, expected to return to the field after missing Florida’s previous two contests, was dressed out and a participant in walkthroughs, yet was unable to take the field when the game commenced.

Fortunately for Florida, starting cornerback CJ Henderson returned from his three-game absence and didn’t miss a beat, while safety Shawn Davis, who missed time in practice for the second-straight week, returned to make an impact in UF’s secondary. Davis had one of Florida’s three interceptions in UF’s 24-13 victory over Auburn.

And as Mullen noted after the game, Henderson’s return to the field also marked the reunion of Florida’s starting cornerback duo.

I thought it was great to have Marco (Wilson) and CJ (Henderson) playing together for the first time since I’ve been here. That’s a pretty dynamic combination,” Mullen said.

Gators set for another College GameDay

With an HBO Show, in-house media and now a ESPN College GameDay under their belts, the Gators have become accustomed to the cameras this season.

In the aftermath of Florida’s 11-point victory over the Tigers, UF learned those cameras weren’t ready to go away.

When the Gators travel to Death Valley for an 8 p.m. showdown with LSU, ESPN’s College GameDay will once again be on site to capture the sights and sounds of another top-10 matchup.

UF lands highly recruited OL

Just prior to kickoff, Gators coach Dan Mullen received a bit of promising news regarding the team’s future on the line of scrimmage.

Four-star offensive lineman Issiah Walker Jr., ranked the No. 18 offensive lineman in the 2020 class by 247Sports, verbally committed to the Gators over Miami and Florida State while on an unofficial visit Saturday in Gainesville.

Walker had been leaning toward UF over the in-state powers throughout the summer, and apparently his return to Florida was enough to convince the 6-foot-4 tackle to commit to the Gators.

Like father, like son?

While Walker was the lone commitment for the Gators, he wasn’t the most important prospect on campus. UF hosted four prospects on official visits, including EJ Smith, the son of former Gators running back and NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith. Ranked the No. 2 all-purpose back in the 2020 class, Smith was on campus throughout the weekend — and he was joined by a slightly daunting presence, as Emmitt Smith served as College GameDay’s celebrity guest picker.

Scoring defense stays hot

In the three games and change the Gators have had Kyle Trask under center, the defense has shut the lid on the end zone.

Through 13 quarters with Trask, the Gators have outscored opponents 115-16, with much of the work coming in the second half after UF’s adjustments. Through six games this season, the Gators have outscored opponents 112-17, including a 64-7 advantage in the fourth quarter. DeeJay Dallas’ 50-yard touchdown in Florida’s season opener is the only time UF has allowed a fourth-quarter score.