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Q&A: Jaylen Watkins

Senior defensive back Jaylen Watkins became Florida's starting safety after redshirt freshman Marcus Maye was benched following a subpar performance in the loss to Miami. 

Watkins, traditionally a cornerback with 21 career starts at the position, led the Gators in tackles (7) in their 31-17 win over Tennessee last weekend. The senior also tallied a pass breakup. 

Watkins dished on Florida's victory, his former roommate -- who just happens to be UF's new starting quarterback, Dante Fowler Jr. and more. 

On Florida’s defense striving for perfection…

“We try our best to play a perfect game, so like towards the end of the game we probably had a few mental errors, but other than that I think we played really good, and got what we wanted. We aimed for three turnovers, but we got six. So overall, we played good. But it's just the little things that we've got to clean up.”

On the secondary battling despite so many injuries…

“It just shows how much depth we have and how we can count on each other to step up when somebody else goes down. Vernon's [Hargreaves] has been playing great and when Loucheiz [Purifoy] went out and I go back to corner, we have guys behind me that can play at safety. So it's not an issue for us when someone goes down.”

On the six takeaways… 

“We had to get a lot of turnovers. We needed to win the game for the offense. And that’s something we knew we had to do this week to win this game. And when Jeff [Driskel] went down, we knew we had to pick up some slack on defense and give the ball back to the offense.”

On Tyler Murphy…

“Tyler’s my roommate on campus, so I’ve witnessed him put in work consistently. You know, he went from being a third-string quarterback. He always prepared like his chance was going to come. So that’s why I’m not surprised when everybody – we seen him produce in practice. When Jeff was out in camp, he had a good camp. So when he went in the game, nobody was scared, and nobody was shocked at what he was doing.”

More on Murphy… 

“Tyler is a very optimistic about everything. I never witness about him getting down about playing time. He was always sure his time was going to come to showcase what he had. … He’ll embrace it. This is the opportunity he’s been looking for for four years. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t embrace this moment, playing at Kentucky and trying to get another win. He’s starting his journey now.”

On Dante Fowler’s performance against the Vols…

“Dante was disappointed in his game last week. From that first play, that fumble he caused, he was angry about his play last week. That was a great way to respond, causing two fumbles this week.”

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