Watkins snaps back after snafu

He's playing a more physical brand of football since his move to safety. Florida senior Jaylen Watkins is noticeably more aggressive in his play on the field and you can it in his tackling and the way he races to the ball when an offensive guy breaks the line of scrimmage. That aggressiveness got him in a bit of hot water Saturday, but he finished the game strong as did the rest of the defense.

The Gators have given up a quick score in each of the last two games. That is something new and according to Jaylen Watkins, it is just a matter of paying more attention to things they already know and know how to deal with.

Watkins was caught off guard when Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry lined up as the left tackle in an unbalanced line where a lineman from the left side lined up on the right side. Henry ran unimpeded straight into the secondary for a big catch in Arkansas' second series and caught the ball for a 31 yard pass play that ended up at the Gators' 4-yard line. A play later, the Razorbacks scored.

"It's always the simple things like I had bad eye control on the tight end and gave up the corner play which led to their touchdown," Watkins said about the slow start the last two weeks on defense. "They did a good job of disguising the tight end in that set and I wasn't disciplined enough to watch the tight end.

It isn't exactly easy to go back to the bench and see a head coach that knows exactly what should have happened on the play. Watkins heard an earful from Florida head coach Will Muschamp after the play and it was expected.

"Definitely," he said of the expectation of a tongue lashing. "When you are someone that should know those things and I do."

Being the senior and leader he is, Watkins got beyond being upset over the mistake and spent some time going over what happened with his teammate. The object being not to let it happen again.

"I explained to them what particular set it was," he said. "(Arkansas) did a good job of hiding their tight end in an unbalanced set. When we went over that all week we didn't see it, but that is something I would normally (notice). It was 3rd and 3 and I was just thinking run, so they slipped him in there."

Overall Watkins played a good game. He came back to make another play in the end zone that allowed the Gators to keep a two score lead on Arkansas in the third quarter. The Razorbacks got man coverage in the end zone from the Gator defense and Watkins made a big time break up of a pass punching through the ball to make sure it wasn't caught.

"It was something we worked on in practice," he said. "They knew one of our coverages and techniques we played. They actually did what we thought they would do so I just had to play my role.

"I think I played an okay game. I definitely could have played better. I obviously had a play that led to a touchdown. Whenever that happens, you know you can do better. I made the play in the end zone to come back after that."

Arkansas was successful in the run game, much more than anyone has been this year. The key was the cut-back ability of the runners and the Florida defenders just had to make sure they were there to gang tackle.

"Just keep running to the ball," Watkins said. "They kept running the ball back across the grain. As long as we keep running to the ball and get more than one guy on them we will get them down."

Praise for Purifoy

With a little bit of a slow start on both sides of the ball, the Gators were looking for someone to create a spark. Enter Watkin's teammate Loucheiz Purifoy.

With the score tied at zero and the offense stalling in the Gators' first series, Purifoy blindsided quarterback Brandon Allen with a sack and forced fumble. A few series later and Arkansas was leading 7-3 and had the ball, Allen drops back to pass and Purifoy jumps a route for a 42 yard interception return for a touchdown and a 10-7 lead. The Gators would never look back from that point. "He is one of our leaders and an important part of our defense," Watkins said of Purifoy. "We have Marcus (Roberson) down and he's playing a lot of positions. He knew he would have to fill a void. He definitely came to play today."

It was actually Purifoy's first interception of his career. A very physical and tenacious defender, he has broken up a lot of passes. He also has a knack for blocking punts and forcing fumbles when you may least expect it.

"That's what he does," Watkins said. "He might not get many interceptions, but he makes up for it. A turnover is a turnover at the end of the day, whether you are creating them through picks or fumbles, I like the way he plays. He has a different style of play than most corners."

Purifoy has been knocked by some for not being able to pick off the ball, that doesn't matter to his teammates.

"He just has so many turnovers." Watkins said. "You can't really mess with a guy that has six or seven turnovers alone and blocks punts. He plays with a different style and very physical. He is up in your face and a lot of times he gets (broken up passes), more than just interceptions."

Purifoy made the big plays that got the action going for the Gators in the game and it isn't the first time he has done that. He has been huge as far as a momentum changer for the Gators.

"It is everything and exactly how he played last year," Watkins said. "He is a momentum changer, that's what he is. That is what you need in one of your key players."

Praise for his quarterback

On the other side of the ball the Gators have had someone step in to take the reins of the offense after starting quarterback Jeff Driskel went down to a season ending knee injury. Junior Tyler Murphy has been playing at a very high level after not given the chance in his first three years on campus.

Watkins is not surprised at all in the way that Murphy has played so far this season.

"When Jeff was down or at a moment when we didn't have our starting quarterback, we would see him," Watkins said. "He played on the scout team against the number one defense, so we saw it a lot.

"We are just really proud of him. We watched him prepare like a starter, even when he was the third team quarterback. It is paying off. It doesn't look like he is any step behind any of our previous quarterbacks. It is exactly what you need out of the backups. I don't know how many backups come in and consistently move the ball like he does."

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