Watkins Preparing for Two Quarterbacks

The challenge for Jaylen Watkins and the Florida secondary this weekend is one they faced a lot in practice last season. Jordan Jefferson returning to LSU means the Gators have to be cognizant of which quarterback is on the field before the snap. Jefferson brings the threat to run while starting quarterback Jarrett Lee has managed the offense and only thrown one interception this season.

"When Jefferson is out there, you've got to stick with your guy," Jaylen Watkins said. "With Jarrett, you just have to know that he isn't looking to run the ball. You don't have to worry about it because the pass rush should be able to handle that. It makes them more versatile.

"We just have to be aware of who is out there."

It has been a complete turnaround for Lee compared to previous years. In 2010, he didn't start a game but appeared in 12. He only threw for 573 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. His number in 2009 weren't significant to the production of the team either.

It's the 2008 season that statistically sticks out. Lee made eight starts and threw for 1,873 yards, 14 touchdowns and an eye opening 16 interceptions. Of the 16, seven were returned for touchdowns, including one by Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes as the Gators blew the Tigers out, 51-21.

This season, Lee is making people forget about that. He hasn't been airing it out and killing opponents with his arm. Instead, he is managing the game but has the confidence to make tough throws in big situations. Lee has thrown for 793 yards, completing 59.3% of his passes, while throwing seven touchdowns and just one interception.

"I didn't play much against LSU last year, but it seems like he has a lot more confidence in his receivers this year," Watkins said. "He is giving the guys a chance to make a play on the ball by throwing it up there for them."

There are two receivers that Lee has leaned on the most this season. Junior Rueben Randle leads the team with 319 yards and three touchdowns, but it's freshman Odell Beckham that leads the team with 20 catches. Beckham also has 268 yards and two touchdowns. DeAngelo Peterson is the next highest with eight catches.

The Florida secondary doesn't have much experience outside of this season, but they haven't been the black hole that most expected. Alabama didn't test the secondary much because they didn't need to. When other teams have tried, the young cornerbacks have held their own.

"We're pretty young, but every game we're getting better at covering," Watkins said. "That helps out our run defense because they don't have to worry about anything on the back end. This week, we're playing some good receivers, so we'll be tested again."

Watkins thinks the improvement in the secondary has come from what the secondary sees in practice. There are tall receivers like Quinton Dunbar and JuJuan Story and faster ones like Andre Debose and Deonte Thompson. Then there are solid route runners like Frankie Hammond.

The secondary gets a look at just about every kind of wide receiver possible to prepare them for games.

"I think we go against good receivers every day in practice," Watkins said. "Our receivers are good, so we don't have to worry about going into a game being worried about their receivers being so good. We just take the approach that we face good receivers every day."


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