Purifoy giving opponents a warning

South Carolina punt returner Ace Sanders had his warning. Loucheiz Purifoy, who has turned into an elite gunner for Florida, told Sanders what was going to happen while warming up. ‘You better hold it tight. You're going to be a violator today.' On his second punt return opportunity of the day, Sanders wasn't listening. Trey Burton punched the ball out of his hands for one of three fumbles forced.

Ace Sanders was identified during the week as a ‘violator,' the term Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn uses to refer to opposing playmakers that don't handle the ball well. When Purifoy saw Sanders warming up, it looked just like it did on film. The ball was hanging out and away from his body.

Purifoy knew what was coming. It was just a matter of when Sanders would put the ball on the ground. As Sanders walked off the field, Purifoy called him a word that has become the most vulgar in the Florida football facility—a violator.

But did he know what Purifoy was talking about?

"Nah. He might now though," Loucheiz Purifoy said, grinning ear-to-ear.

The sophomore cornerback caused two fumbles on his own. On the first snap of the game, the Florida defense did what the coaches predicted. Head coach Will Muschamp had a conversation with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn at the team hotel before the game. It was about being aggressive on defense.

They proved it on the first play.

Purifoy came flying off the edge on a cornerback blitz, which he referred to as his "favorite play" to run, but the cornerback made a bold move when he got in the face of quarterback Connor Shaw. Instead of wrapping up or delivering a big hit to Shaw, Purifoy reached in and poked the ball out with his left hand.

While he was running at the quarterback, Purifoy's mind was locked on what the coaches told the team during the week — Shaw was on the list as the biggest violator on the Gamecocks.

"If you're running around with the ball out, you might as well give it to us," said Purifoy, with a look of confusion about why someone would do that against the Florida defense.

After the Gators punched it in, Purifoy punched another ball out on the ensuing kickoff. The 6-1, 189-pound cornerback has been making a habit out creating loose balls. It's just now starting to show on the field.

"He just has a knack for the ball, even if it's not interceptions, he gets the ball out," Watkins said. "He's like that in practice. The receivers hate him, the running backs hate him, because if they're running and slowing down and they've got the ball here, he's knocking it out. That was nothing new to us when he knocked the ball away from the quarterback."

When Purifoy isn't creating havoc on defense, he has become an integral part of the punt coverage unit that is No. 1 in net punting in the country. Punter Kyle Christy has been booming balls to lead the country with a 47.9-yard average, but Purifoy is the key to the net punting.

Despite being double teamed on almost every punt, it's rare when Purifoy isn't securing the tackle down the field or standing in front of a returner signaling for a fair catch.

"It's actually kind of fun when you're getting double-teamed because they don't know what you're going to do," Purifoy said. "All they can do is try and stop it. At first, it was kind of frustrating with two people in front of you. You don't know what to do, but once you get older, you kind of pick a spot and get them to try and run and beat you there, and you beat them to another spot and get open."

Fightin Gators Top Stories