Spring experience benefits secondary

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Unexpectedly losing your best defensive player is never a good thing. But there actually is a positive aspect to Florida’s situation with All-SEC cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who was thrown off the team last week following his second marijuana arrest in three months.

The Gators already know how to play without him. They did it the entire spring, while Jenkins was sidelined after undergoing surgery. So the transition in the secondary this summer and early fall should be relatively seamless.

“We’ll be fine (at cornerback),” UF coach Will Muschamp said in Orlando on Tuesday night. “I’ll take the guys we’ve got.”

With Jenkins sitting out the spring, it gave UF’s young cornerbacks a chance to get more reps and more involved in the defense.

That extra practice time could turn out to be invaluable come next fall.

With Jenkins out of the mix, here’s how the Gators are looking at cornerback: senior Jeremy Brown (provided his back holds up) has nailed down one starting role, while senior Moses Jenkins and true sophomore Cody Riggs likely will compete for starting honors at the other corner. Depth comes from Jaylen Watkins, De’Ante “Pop” Saunders and incoming true freshmen Loucheiz Purifoy, Marcus Roberson and Valdez Showers.

The Gators certainly appear to have the numbers to adequately cover, so to speak, for the loss of Jenkins.

“Obviously, the freshmen will always get an opportunity,” Muschamp said. “If they’re good enough and if they can help us win football games, they’ll have that opportunity. But Jeremy Brown, Moses Jenkins, Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins are the four guys. And Pop Saunders did a nice job in the spring.”

Saunders, an early enrollee, turned out to be one of the big surprises of the spring. Getting plenty of reps with Jenkins out of the mix, Sauders, who played quarterback and defensive back at DeLand High School, drew praise from Muschamp late in the spring. Muschamp said Saunders has a chance to be a big-time corner for the Gators, and that might happen fairly soon.

At the corner opposite Brown, Jenkins and Riggs were in a close battle throughout the spring.
Muschamp said Jenkins needed to continue to improve his consistency.

Riggs saw considerable playing time as a true freshman last season and ended the year on a high note with an interception in the Outback Bowl.

Watkins appears to be one of the most versatile players in the UF secondary — capable of playing safety and cornerback.

It’s tough when you unexpectedly lose your best defensive player, but it appears the Gators have a chance to overcome the loss of Janoris Jenkins.

31 COMMENTS

  1. yeah, if you watch the game tape from the FSU and USC, MOSES GETS BURNED ALOT! they were throwing right at him, mabye the arm was messing with him in that cast, but, it kinda look like speed was the real issiue, he is kinda tall and lanky. I also saw brown get burned a few times, it seemed like most of those were deep passes he couldnt find in the air[ball skills]. fingures crossed josh shaw will crack the line up at least at nickle[he is big for a corner] has anyone heard anything from jshaw this offseason? he was a bigtime recruit

  2. I think Joshua Shaw switched to safety because that’s what he played at the spring game.

    – Hey Robbie, what’s going on with Dee Finley? He was such a highly touted safety coming out of high school. I know he made the switch to LB but there’s nothing ever said of him when talking about the defense.

  3. Our DL will buy these guys some time to grow. Losing Jenkins hurts, but with the talent level available, I think we will get by. And I believe Brantley will turn it on this year. He was terribly mis-used last year. The upgrade from Addazio to Weis will be as striking as the beginning of the Spurrier era. Remember Shane Matthews’ debut vs. San Diego State? Gooooooooo GATORS!

  4. I’m not too worried about the secondary, before Jenkins left I wasn’t worried at all. But I think with the front seven racheting things up kinda high will help the secondary out until they can fin for themselves. If we are going to have to struggle at the QB spot, lets do it with Murphy or Dreiskel whoever is the best come fall. If Brantley is not head and shoulders above them at the start of the fall. Don’t start out struggling with a Senior, if we are not going to be conference champs with him be a good also ran with talent that will be back 2012 when we win it all, conference and national champions.

  5. Give Brantley a chance. The guy was playing shortstop the first several games and then he was being asked to be an option QB much of the rest of the season. The guy never had an opportunity to gain any kind of confidence or consistency. He’s earned his starting spot and unless someone can actually take it from him, then I say get behind him. He’s a Gator and deserves our support.
    Go Gators!

  6. i think our secondary will b just fine cody riggs will take over soon and b as good ass joe haden, gators fans got to still believe i real question is, is john brantley really goin to b our lead give the job the tlyer murphy and lets get dis show on the road.

  7. Let’s face it, Janoris Jenkins, was the most talented defender we’ve had in the Gator secondary in a long time. His play was inconsistent, but when he wanted to, he was phenomenal, at not only his cover skills, but his ability to make tackles on the edge. And this observation dates back to his freshman year. He will be missed next year in the UF secondary, but some Pro team is going to be happy to have him. (Assuming he can get past his pot addiction). I thought Cody Riggs looked good, at times, last year. Hopefully, he will become the shut-down guy we need back there.

  8. The name of the game on defense is to plug the running lanes, pressure the QB and tackle. As they say… it all starts up front. That being said, we are going to need a good game plan to work to our strengths, protect the football and create some turnovers to win our SEC games. I’m anxious to see how our coaches manage the games. GO GATORS!!

  9. Brown can be a lock down corner. If you go back and watch any of the times he got “beaten” deep he had an undrafted free agent playing over the top that he appeared to be relying upon for help that didn’t come. Jenkins on the other hand seems to be more fit to be a zone coverage corner and needs to keep things in front of him to make a play. Otherwise there is plenty of talent in the secondary, and we should have the coaches in place to get them ready.

  10. why are you guys sleeping on Jeremy Brown.. He’s a good football player.. not great yet, but good. last season was his first time getting playing time in 2 years bc of injuries, and he did well… but i cant say the same for Moses Jenkins..6yrs senior and its still not clicking for him.

  11. Look, “Tom” is right, has every reason to fear Janoris (our best player) gone from the “D” and JB IV “running” our offense (more like “running scared” from the gametime spotlight!), while “JohnWhoRocks” has it wrong when he puts his faith in #12 and makes excuses for him (he’s not alone in this, though).
    We are going to be “hit or miss” in every way, at every level this season. We’ll get better as the schedule plays out and we begin to find ourselves as a team, and though we’ll lose some games we shouldn’t (especially early, I’m afraid), we’ll be consistently dangerous by mid-November.
    Now, I’m with those who see us as a full-on juggernaut by 2012: we’ll have talent, depth, drive AND a chip on our collective shoulders going in–especially with a by-then-experienced young quarterback to lead us.
    That’s one more reason not to waste much more patience, time or energy on one John Brantley. Why depend on “experienced-enough-that-maybe-he-won’t-LOSE-games” mediocrity once you realize this isn’t a championship year and it’s time to see who the NEXT guy is and get him game-reps anyway?!!

  12. It will be interesting to see how some “big time” recruits in the secondaty, Joshua Shaw and Marcus Roberson, play this season. Will they be impact players? Roberson and Cody Riggs played together in high school, so maybe there could be some good chemistry there. I’m looking forward to the season despite all the question marks. Let’s just have some fun. Go Gators!

  13. I’m still sick over losing Jenkins!!! I cant believe he could be so careless! Just think of the year he may have had! Gee, that one really stings! But, we have a lot of talent amongst the ranks and we’ll do just fine! I don’t see Moses winning a starting job or the #2 spot for that matter! I think the coaches have him in the mix to spur competition and make those younger guys more hungry! He just doesn’t have the hips to play corner or the speed. He will be decent on Special Teams and that’s were I expect to see him! I am really excited about the D-Line! Dude, if they can stay healthy, especially Jay Howard, who seems to be really hungry, there will be a lot of QB smears in the Swamp!