No Questions About This Corner

Questions abound in the Florida secondary this fall. Is Major Wright ready to be a full-time starter and leader of the safety unit? Is Ahmad Black big enough to succeed as a start in the SEC? Who will win the corner battle between Wondy Pierre-Louis and Markihe Anderson? Are Jacques Rickerson and Moses Jenkins ready to contribute? Will freshmen Janoris Jenkins and Jeremy Brown earn playing time?

While the next three weeks of camp will be needed to sort out those posers there is one position where no questions are being asked. Joe Haden will be one of Florida's starting corners. The sophomore from Maryland has the potential to be one of the better corners Florida's had in recent years and early returns from the practice field indicate that's going to happen quickly.

Haden was superb in his rookie season, starting 12 of Florida's 13 games missing only the FSU game with an injury. He was fifth on the team with 63 tackles and led the Florida secondary with a dozen pass break ups. He also registered 3.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

I spoke with Haden after Wednesday's practice about the progress of the rebuilding Florida secondary and expectations for the 2008 Gator defense.

LV: How do you feel the secondary is coming together?

JH: I feels it's coming together really well. During spring we had everything on our shoulders with people not believing in us so we had to come out and prove it. Coach said if you don't do anything during the season, then what you did in the spring was nothing. So we're worked hard at coming together and I feel like we're bonding really well.

LV: Do you think the secondary is better than it was last year at this time?

JH: Definitely, a whole lot better. This is a completely different secondary.

LV: Why?

JH: Just experience. We know a lot better what's going on so we're not as afraid to jump in there, not as afraid to play aggressive. That's what we're doing now.

LV: There are a lot of guys at corner, but not as many at safety. Are you concerned about the safeties right now?

JH: We not worried about safety. We've got Major (Wright) and he knows what to do back there and he can do what he needs to do. And then we got Ahmad Black and Will Hill and we turned TJ (Lawrence) over. Ahmad Black is doing really well so out confidence is high.

LV: Everyone knows what this Gator offense can do and the points they put on the board last year. How much does the defense feel the need to try and approach their level of play?

JH: Definitely, because they held it down for us last year and now we have to do our part. We need to even it out so the offense does good and the defense, to. Then we'll have a complete team.

LV: How do you make that happen?

JH: Well, the secondary, we put in on ourselves that we have to lift the defense. We know if we come out here and do good the defense is going to be alright.

LV: You guys only intercepted eleven passes last year. Is that number doing to go up?

JH: Yeah, man I'm looking for eleven for me. Me and Wondy want 11 each.

The chances of that happening are slim and none and slim just left town. Still the Gators ought to be better in the back line of the defense, providing there are no major departures or injuries from this point forward. Florida is as talented and deep at corner as you would want to be, but the safety position is in my view the weakest one on the team. Progress there will be a key determining factor in whether or not this defense takes a big step forward.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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