Purifoy earns his breakout

Loucheiz Purifoy knew it was coming. After a suspension kept him off the field for the first game and mediocre play in the next three games, the junior cornerback had a feeling that a breakout game was coming his way. Purifoy received plenty of offseason hype, earning some Preseason All-American honors, but on Saturday he recorded his first career interception.

The hype around Loucheiz Purifoy has been building since earning a start in the bowl game his freshman year. His athleticism allowed him to have a strong sophomore season before an offseason worth of accolades came his way.

He earned them on Saturday night.

The best part of his play was the different ways the junior made an impact on the game. It started on Arkansas' second drive of the game. After Alex Collins ripped off a 28-yard run to start the drive, Purifoy flex off the edge on a corner blitz and got to Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen's blind side. The hit forced the ball out of Allen's hands before it was snagged by Florida linebacker Michael Taylor.

"When I saw he still had the ball and I was coming, my eyes got big," Purifoy said. "I know if I get to him and the ball is still in his hand, I'm going to get it out. That's what we're taught, get the ball out. I get a chance to tee off on the quarterback -- go make a play."

With Arkansas nursing a 7-3 lead about halfway through the second quarter, Allen looked to his right for a running back in the flats. Purifoy read it but didn't want to break too fast. He wanted to bait Allen into the throw.

And it worked.

Purifoy pounced at the perfect time, snatching it out of the air and saw nothing but green grass between him and the end zone. After 42 yards, the Gators had a three-point lead that they would only add onto. He announced his return in a big way with the interception, and while he has been in position to make those plays in the past, it was his first career interception.

"I've seen him make that play a lot, but I haven't seen him finish it," Florida head coach Will Muschamp said. "I've seen him be in that position and he bats it down sometimes. To finish on that play and the momentum of the crowd -- the top came off that place when it happened."

He wasn't done there. Purifoy added another big hit and a quarterback hurry on a cornerback blitz where he was able to deliver another big hit to Allen. Purifoy also added three pass breakups throughout the game. He even added two punt returns for a total of 17 yards.

The junior cornerback was everywhere on Saturday.

He knew this kind of game was coming. His skillset allows him to impact the game in every facet, even on the offensive side of the ball when the Florida coaching staff puts a package in for him. On Saturday, he stuffed the stat sheet. While freshman Vernon Hargreaves has stolen the show in the Florida secondary, Saturday was Purifoy's way of announcing his return.

"It's a big game. You've got to make big plays," Purifoy said. "That's how I look at it. They always say big players come out when the lights come on. I waited my turn, and it came tonight. It's kind of frustrating, but that's part of the game. It came tonight."

And the Gators will be expecting it plenty more in the future.


Fightin Gators Top Stories