In this look into the ultra-talented Florida Gators, we will discuss the huge uphill battle facing the Louisville Cardinal offense, mainly the receivers as they have to try and beat the #1 passing efficiency defense in the FBS. The defensive secondary is a big reason that on the year, no team has scored more than 26 points and that took the Florida State Seminoles doing it in the last weekend of the regular season. In fact, FSU, Louisiana Lafayette and Tennessee are the only teams to score 20 or more points against the Florida defense. As a team, Florida is #6 in the FBS with 19 interceptions and nearly half (9) have been by the hands of their starting defensive backs.
The Gator secondary is coached by Travaris Robinson which is in his second season at UF. Prior to coaching the Gators, Robinson was the secondary coach at Texas Tech in 2010, cornerbacks coach at Southern Mississippi in 2009, defensive backs coach at Western Kentucky in 2008 and a student/graduate assistant at Auburn in 2006 and 2007. Below is a list of his accomplishments gathered from gatorzone.com:
•In 2011, guided a UF secondary that ranked seventh in the nation in pass defense (166.8 yds/game). Overall, the Gator defense ranked eighth nationally in total defense (299.5 yds/game) and second in third-down defense (27.12 percent).
•Helped Texas Tech to a TicketCity Bowl victory over Northwestern in 2010, finishing the season with an 8-5 record while two of his defensive backs (Cody Davis, D.J. Johnson) were awarded 2010 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention recognition along with a third (Jarvis Phillips) earning Freshman All-American Honorable Mention from CollegeFootballNews.com.
•His 2009 Southern Miss squad finished in the top four in Conference USA in pass efficiency defense (130.7), interceptions (12) and yards per pass attempt (7.06) and he coached First Team All-C-USA selection DB Eddie Hicks.
•Served his first season as a full-time assistant coach with Western Kentucky in 2008 and assisted DB Ryan Beard in being named to the Rivals.com Sun Belt Conference All-Freshman team.
•During his 2006 season as a staff assistant at Auburn, the Tigers posted an 11-2 record and won the Cotton Bowl while reaching a national ranking as high as No. 2.
•After earning his degree, he remained with Auburn for 2007 as a graduate assistant, assisting with all aspects of the defense. He was responsible for opponent scouting, organizing scout teams for the defense and kicking game, video breakdown and computer data entry, the defensive scouting report and all aspects of on-campus recruiting. The Tigers finished 9-4 and won the Chick-Fil-A Bowl that season.
•Worked under Will Muschamp for his two seasons with the Auburn program.
So who will Robinson be sending out on the field against the Teddy Bridgewater and the Cardinals? Strong Safety, Matt Elam (5-foot-10, 202 lb Jr.) is the leader in interceptions with 4 and is also second on the team in tackles with 65. 10 of those 65 have been behind the line of scrimmage with one being a sack. Elam is a hard hitter and sure tackler and has forced a fumble this season. Equally impressive is that Elam is averaging 18.2 yards per INT return with a long of 42 yards. Free Safety, Josh Evans (6-foot-2, 201 lb Sr.) leads the team in tackles with 79 due to being well rounded and equally dominant against the run and pass. On the season, Evans has 4.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 2 interceptions and 3 pass break ups. Starting Cornerbacks, Loucheiz Purifoy (6-foot-1, 189 lb So.) and Jaylen Watkins (6-foot-0, 187 lb Jr.) (#14 Jaylen Watkins intercepts a pass vs. Kentucky -photo by gamedayr.com)get plenty of attention from opposing offensive coaches and both have very nice stats. Purifoy has 51 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 5 pass break ups and 3 forced fumbles! Possibly even more impressive is the fact that he has 2 blocked kicks. Watkins is second on the team with 3 interceptions and he’s averaging 14.7 yards per INT return with 1 touchdown and also 8 passes broken up. Only Marcus Roberson’s 12 passes broken up are better. Watkins doesn’t miss many tackles when his number is called either. 23 of his 35 total tackles have been unassisted.
My Final Verdict?
I think that the offensive line will play like they’re capable of and give Teddy enough time to make a few big plays. The Louisville coaches know they are going to have to be able to run the ball successfully to win the game or even have a slight chance to but I think ultimately, they know that their best chance to pull the huge upset relies on the accuracy and management of Bridgewater along with a herculean defensive effort.
Don’t forget to come back to Cardinal Dominance on Thursday the 20th and check out Senior Writer, Lakinit’s look into the Gators quarterbacks and running backs and then again on Friday the 21st as I reveal the Florida linebackers. After the positional breakdowns are complete, CD recruiting guru, Dimori, will give us the “Tale of the Tape” for the game.