Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Tuesday, July 05, 2022
<p>Cornerback Jalen Tabor (31) celebrates after successfully defending wide receiver Josh Hammond (10) during the Orange &amp; Blue Debut on April 8, 2016, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.</p>

Cornerback Jalen Tabor (31) celebrates after successfully defending wide receiver Josh Hammond (10) during the Orange & Blue Debut on April 8, 2016, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

There wasn’t a doubt that Florida’s secondary showed holes in its season opener against UMass — a 53-yard bomb down the sideline over sophomore defensive back Chris Williamson in the second quarter affirmed that notion.

Without Jalen Tabor, UF’s star cornerback, the pass defense resembled a leaky pipe.

It might have burst if faced with a higher powered opposing offense.

But come Saturday against Kentucky, Tabor will be back on the field to plug up the holes and help shore up any cracks Florida’s secondary displayed.

The junior defensive back was suspended for the Gators' opener after reportedly scuffling in practice with tight end C’yontai Lewis, who will also return this week.

Tabor’s teammates couldn’t be happier to have him back.

“With him on the field, it’ll be a lot better for myself to get balls,” junior cornerback Quincy Wilson said, “because as you know, I didn’t get any balls this week.”

UMass quarterback Ross Comis avoided throwing in Wilson’s direction, instead picking on more inexperienced backs like Williamson and freshman Chauncey Gardner after Duke Dawson left the game with a shoulder injury.

But with Dawson healthy and Tabor back in addition to Wilson, don’t expect many big passing plays from Kentucky.

As Wilson said, Tabor will help limit explosive plays.

“That’s the big thing,” Wilson said. “As you know, (UMass) had 70-80 percent of their (yards) come on three plays. So that will get cut down.”

Tabor’s presence does more than limit an opposing passer.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox

He gives the rest of Florida’s defense — including linebackers like Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone — some leeway and room for error.

“I think a lot of guys are going to be able to really let their guard down and go play now,” Davis said. “We’re locked tight back there, and it’s going to be really exciting to see what goes down when he’s there.”

Pass breakups.

Pick sixes.

Tabor earned both on multiple occasions in his First Team All-Southeastern Conference sophomore season last year.

The plays the talented corner makes energize the team and help elevate the rest of defenders’ games, Davis said.

But simply having a familiar face next to Davis is critical as well.

“I mean, with (Tabor) back there though, it’s going to make things a lot easier,” Davis said. “We’re going to be able to communicate with him, and he’s going to know what’s going on. And just his experience as a player and being in the moment, we’re not going to have anything to worry about. He’s not going to have anything to worry about.”

Contact Patrick Pinak at ppinak@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @pinakk12.

Cornerback Jalen Tabor (31) celebrates after successfully defending wide receiver Josh Hammond (10) during the Orange & Blue Debut on April 8, 2016, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2022 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.