Losing Jenkins Hurts at all Levels of Defense

When Will Muschamp announced earlier in the week that Janoris Jenkins would no longer be on the Florida football team, it sent shock-waves around Gator Nation. An all-American cornerback from South Florida, Jenkins may very well be the best aggressive cornerback in college football. Now, he will take his talent elsewhere and the Gators are going to have to change a lot of things on defense.

When it was announced that Janoris Jenkins would no longer be playing football at Florida, everyone knew it took a big time football player out of the lineup for the Gators. It also meant that the Gators will have to likely change up a great deal of what they want to do on defense when the fall comes around.

Janoris Jenkins was really the only ‘press' cornerback on the Gators' roster. That he was going to be teamed up with a more finesse player on the opposite side would have been fine, but the defense that Will Muschamp and company want to implore needs aggressive, in-your-face cornerback play and as of now, there is really no one on the roster providing that.

The press cornerback allows your defense to attack up front because the corners are taking receivers out of their passing routes and allowing for a little more time and exposure for the defensive front to get to the quarterback. You can send an extra man on a blitz knowing that someone is going to get there a little faster than the receivers can get open.

Playing at the line of scrimmage also creates more gap coverage in the running game and how many times have we seen Jenkins make a tackle at or near the line of scrimmage on a running play? Again, linebackers can play closer as well knowing that the play is going to have to happen quickly.

With the finesse corners that play off and then break on the ball, the receivers are allowed off the line of scrimmage and the quarterback hopefully baited into a throw that the defender can break on and intercept or at least knock down.

With the two opposite type players on the field a defense can cheat to one side or the other during the play and help out either guy. When no one is pressing in a man scheme, the safeties have to be able to cover a lot of ground and be very adept at reading the play before it happens.

A look at the roster and there are currently seven players that are listed as cornerbacks only in senior Moses Jenkins, sophomore Jeremy Brown and Cody Riggs, and freshmen Pop Saunders, Loucheiz Purifoy, Marcus Roberson, and Valdez Showers. Jaylen Watkins seems to be in the midst of a move to safety.

Of all the returning players, Jenkins and Riggs could be considered press cornerbacks. Riggs plays with a ton of heart and ability but is limited in size, while Jenkins has the size, but not the quickness to be an every down player at the position and especially as a press corner.

Jeremy Brown is certainly more of a finesse player and has good instincts with breaking on the ball, but will never be that guy that plays at the line of scrimmage and forces receivers out of their routes.

Pop Saunders is that same type of player and is also very good at doing it, I saw a great deal of Saunders as a high school players and his break on the ball is as good as anyone. Still, the Gators need some corners that can compliment the finesse guys and that have the size and quickness to play a lot.

Enter Roberson, Showers, and Purifoy. One of these three is going to have to earn huge playing time in the fall if Florida is going to be able to cause the disruption on defense that they were expecting to cause with Janoris Jenkins in the fold.

All three guys have the size. Of the three, Roberson is more of the pure defender and hence probably has more of the instincts to play press coverage and be nasty with offensive players at the line of scrimmage.

Showers and Purifoy have the elite size and both are probably quicker than Roberson, so their physical tools lend more to being an elite cornerback. But, will they be able to be physical at the line of scrimmage and handle physical receivers that we see in the SEC.

In three huge 2010 SEC games against first rounders Julio Jones (Alabama) and A.J. Green (Georgia) and future first rounder Alshon Jeffrey(South Carolina), Janoris Jenkins allowed a total of 112 yards and one touchdown among the three when he was asked to play man coverage all day on each.

As a true freshman in 2008, Jenkins followed true freshman starter Joe Haden from 2007 and started all of the games in his freshman season. Haden was a first round pick last year.

The precedent is there for a young guy to step up, and the Gators need one.

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