Each week, I’ll
breakdown (in a simplified manner, hopefully) a pivotal play in Florida’s game.
I decided against lots of arrows and pointers so as not to distract from the
overall picture, but if you’d prefer that in the future, let me know.
Today's play is Loucheiz Purifoy’s pick-six early in the
second quarter of Florida’s 30-10 victory over Arkansas. It was a long time
coming for the playmaker with tons of tantalizing talent and gall to wear No.
15 for the Gators. Purifoy recorded his first-career interception -- the eighth
consecutive game for the Gators with at least one pick. Overall, the dynamic
junior -- riddled by inconsistencies and murmurs of criticisms in recent weeks
-- delivered the most complete and dominating performance of his career: an interception-turned-touchdown,
a sack-fumble, four tackles, three pass breakups and a quarterback hurry. The
pick-six highlighted UF’s win over Arkansas, giving UF an early 10-7 lead it
never relinquished. Here’s how it unfolded.
On a 3rd-and-6 close to midfield, Florida is aligned in its
base nickel (4-2-5) defense with a one-high safety (Cody Riggs, No. 31) look.
Jaylen Watkins (No. 14) is on an island at the top of the screen -- responsible
for either Arkansas’ tailback or tight end.
Off the snap, Dante Fowler Jr. (No. 6, the right defensive
end) performs a rush-stunt with Gators defensive tackle Jon Bullard (No. 90).
Bullard engages two offensive linemen, while Razorbacks all-conference center
Travis Swanson is focused on blocking UF’s other defensive tackle -- Leon Orr
(No. 44) -- who is also performing a stunt-rush with left bookend Ronald Powell
Florida’s designed rush immediately flushes the pocket (and
quarterback Brandon Allen) right -- exactly towards UF’s bracket coverage
inside. Fowler Jr. has a free release, as Arkansas’ offensive line is totally
confused and tailback Jonathan Williams (No. 32) doesn’t block anyone and
accidently runs into his own teammate.
The pass rushes forces Allen to throw the ball too soon and
into double bracket coverage (Purfioy and Antonio Morrison, No. 3).
Arkansas wideout Keon Hatcher wasn’t ready for the pass and was just completing
his break when the poor throw was already in the air.
Here’s another angle. Hatcher is just now looking for the
ball, but it’s already floating towards the eager hands of Purifoy.
42-yards to paydirt. Purifoy “took it to the crib” (Quote: courtesy
of junior linebacker Michael Taylor), escorted by a convoy led by Orr and
Fowler Jr. Purifoy likely didn’t need the block, but UF’s two defensive linemen
shoved Allen into the ground for good measure to totally clear the path into
the end zone.
GAINESVILLE -- “I’m just nice to everybody. It’s crazy though, because on
the football field, I probably say some things and people will be looking at me
like, ‘What?’ And I’m like, ‘Sorry, bro. It’s football.’”
Dante Fowler Jr., ladies and gentlemen. Florida’s menacing
pass rusher -- a team-leading 3.0 sacks and two forced fumbles -- is really
just a big kid at heart with an infectious personality.
Don't let Dominique Easley's infamous Chucky doll -- something Fowler Jr. lugs around in memory of his injured teammate -- fool you.
“Look at me, I’m smiling right now,” Florida's sophomore defensive
end said. “I like to play around and stuff like that. I just turned 19, so I
just try to love life. I’m still a kid I’m not 21 yet. My mom still washes my
Even while at school?
“When I go home. Now [at Florida] I have to. It sucks.”
Fowler Jr., a former five-star recruit, had a solid freshman
campaign, but has exploded as a playmaking sophomore. Coach Will Muschamp
praised the pass rusher's acceptance to coaching -- something the defensive end
attributed to tough love from his dad, Dante Fowler Sr.
“Dante has a great personality. He’s a lot of fun to be
around and coach. He’s a joy to coach,” Muschamp said. “He’s always got a smile
on his face. You can coach Dante hard. Guys of his caliber sometimes are not
approachable in that situation. He’s a guy that take coaching. He wants to be
coached. He wants to be coached hard. When he makes a mistake he wants to know
what he can do to get better. He’s just a very coachable player. That’s what
makes him a really good player. God has blessed him with a lot of ability. But
the flip side of that is the guys I’ve been around who are really, really good
you can coach those guys. They’re willing to listen. They don’t think they have
all the answers. They understand they have improvements to be made. He watches
the film. He understands that good plays take care of themselves and negative
plays are the ones he need to correct. He’ll correct them himself.”
In the clip, Fowler Jr. talks LSU’s shootouts, his Dad’s
influence as a “coach,” “breaking his opponents” and more.
GAINESVILLE -- In three conference games, No. 10 LSU has
scored 35, 41 and 59 points. The Tigers -- No. 23 nationally in total offense
(488.8 y/g) -- also dropped 37 points in their season opener against TCU -- the
nation’s No. 32 ranked defense.
The Tigers can score -- a lot. So are the No. 17 Gators -- as currently constituted --
prepared for a potential shootout?
“Honestly, I got real caught up in all that stuff when I was
a coordinator,” coach Will Muschamp said. “When I’m a head coach, I wanna win.
If it take 51-50, lets go. … As long as we win I don’t care.”
First-year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has transformed
LSU's attack, aided by the development and maturity of senior quarterback Zach
A year after throwing just 12 touchdowns all season, LSU’s
signal caller has 15 touchdowns to just two interceptions -- tops in the SEC.
Mettenberger struggled mightily in the 14-6 loss to UF last season, completing
just 11 passes for 158 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.
"Where they've taken the next step has been in the
throwing game," Muschamp said. Mettenberger is playing at a very high
level. What strikes you is he's completing [68.2] percent of his passes, and
he's so efficient and effective throwing the vertical balls down the
But in an era of offensive expositions -- especially for the SEC -- Florida continues to zig while everyone else zags.
The Gators have held 12 consecutive conference opponents to
20 points or less. Alabama has the next longest streak at one game: An astounding statistic.
Meanwhile, UF’s offense has topped 30 points just a single
time all season, but quarterback Tyler Murphy thinks Florida is “capable” of
winning a shootout, if necessary.
However, the redshirt junior aslo said, “With the defense we
have, I think it's just important that we take care of the ball, try to stay on
the field as much as possible. If we do that, if we keep their offense off the
field, I think we can be successful.”
Gators safety Jaylen Watkins broke
down the matchup, including LSU’s offensive strengths, Mettenberger’s maturity
and the Tigers’ talented wide receiver duo (Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis
Landry) and their propensity for winning jump balls.