Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Freshman Jenkins leads resurgent Florida defense

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Defense was one of Florida's biggest question marks coming into the season, but through three games, the unit has proved its worth.

The Gators ended two Tennessee drives within their 5-yard line by forcing turnovers, and they kept the Volunteers off the scoreboard until the fourth quarter in their 30-6 win Saturday.

Coach Urban Meyer considered the goal-line stands game-changers. "The good thing is our guys never quit," he said. "Last year's defense, I wouldn't see much a stand like that."

The first stop came early in the second quarter with Tennessee poised to cut into the Gators' 17-0 lead.

The Volunteers methodically drove down the field, going 72 yards on 14 plays and eating up eight minutes on the clock. But a missed exchange between quarterback Jonathan Crompton and running back Arian Foster led to a fumble recovered by Carlos Dunlap at the Florida 2.

"It kind of sucked the air out of them," middle linebacker Brandon Spikes said. "Foster was beating himself up. He was so down when he fumbled it. I knew it was going to be over."

The second stop came with two seconds left in the first half when Janoris Jenkins made an interception in the end zone on fourth and goal from the UF 1.

"We're always talking about (how) we need a goal-line stand," defensive coordinator Charlie Strong said. "And for them to go down and make those two plays on the goal line, it was great for their confidence, because (Tennessee) drove the ball down, then we had those great stops."

Jenkins also forced a fumble on Tennessee's first drive by laying a huge hit on junior running back Montario Hardesty after he caught a pass.

"He's a very talented freshman, and he's got a lot of ability," Strong said of Jenkins, a cornerback. "He's played very well for us so far and played very well this day."

Jenkins did have one mistake — a pass-interference call late in the third quarter — but he made his mark. "If I hadn't (enrolled early) in January, I wouldn't have had this opportunity," he said. "I came in and made the best of it."

Spikes, a junior, sees the season as a chance for the defense to redeem itself.

"I had an opportunity to be here in '06 and watch those guys play," he said. "They played with a lot of passion and relentless effort. Last year we just had a lot of younger guys. They didn't really know what to expect. Losing four games — a lot of that was on the defense. We took it as a challenge and just wanted to get better."

Freshman Jenkins leads resurgent Florida defense 09/20/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 5:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. NFL Week 3: What we learned


    Take the knee … well, not NOW

     1. Photo of Roger Mooney for Times Sports.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Chris Archer's primary problem Sunday, as in much of September, was a lack of slider command. When he can't throw it where he wants, and doesn't have the confidence in the changeup to throw it often, he can't win with just his fastball.

  3. Somehow, Rays' Chris Archer remains just shy of being an ace

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Chris Archer had another bad game Sunday.

    Chris Archer is sputtering to the finish line, his rough start on Sunday his fourth in his past five in which he hasn’t gotten past four innings.
  4. Bradenton high school senior Chasten Whitfield inspires young anglers


    MADEIRA BEACH — The kids lined up single file, snow cones in hand, a procession of sweaty, excited grade schoolers watching Chasten Whitfield throw a cast net.

    Whitfield, a senior at Bradenton Manatee, demonstrates how to throw a cast net at the FishKids tournament in Madeira Beach. She also taught knot tying.
  5. Wreck helps Kyle Busch take control of Monster Cup's ISM 300

    Auto racing

    LOUDON, N.H. — Kyle Busch saw little but billowing white smoke that engulfed the track and blinded enough drivers that it caused a tremendous wreck that notably altered the race running order.

    Kyle Busch celebrates with a burnout after his third victory of the season that earns a berth in the second round of NASCAR’s playoffs. He also has some fun with Loudon the Lobster.