GAINESVILLE — All last week, Florida coaches told cornerback Janoris Jenkins to expect short dig routes. When Jenkins saw one Saturday, he pounced.
After the Miami (Ohio) receiver took a few steps, stopped and turned around, the junior from Pahokee stepped in front of the pass and returned the interception 67 yards for a touchdown that put the Gators ahead 7-3 early in the second quarter.
Florida intercepted Zac Dysert four times in the 34-12 win but perhaps no turnover was more important than the one by Jenkins.
"It was a good play, a game-changing play," he said. "I went and made it."
Jenkins said the defense was unaffected by the sluggish start of the offense, which put up just 25 yards through three quarters.
"Defense has to come out and play anyway," he said. "You've got to keep everybody's head up."
After Miami's failed fake punt helped put Florida up 14-3, senior strong safety Ahmad Black intercepted a tipped pass at the RedHawks 43. Black weaved in and out of the offense before going down 3 yards short of the end zone.
Two plays later, the Gators punched in a touchdown to take a 21-3 lead despite having only 13 net yards.
"At the end of the day, we have to make something happen," Black said. "We knew we had to cause turnovers."
Miami starting running back Thomas Merriweather was ejected after Black's interception for punching defensive tackle Dominique Easley in the helmet. And for the game, the Gators held the RedHawks to just 4 yards on the ground.
But the defense was far from flawless.
After Black's interception, Dysert led the RedHawks on a 16-play, 61-yard drive capped by a field goal. Miami cut Florida's lead to 21-12 1:36 into the fourth quarter with a 57-yard drive.
Dysert brought the RedHawks within a yard of a touchdown on that drive, but receiver Arnand Robinson was called for a personal foul after getting stopped on third down.
Florida played without free safety Will Hill, who coach Urban Meyer said was "not ready to play." The unit also was without tackle Terron Sanders due to a sprained right knee, and cornerback Moses Jenkins injured his left elbow while playing special teams.
"We made some plays," Meyer said. "But that was not a Florida defense. I had to check the roster a few times to see who was out there."