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Theater of Operations, Florida Gators Season Review: The Safeties, Part Two

That's right. I went there.
That's right. I went there.

For previous editions of Theater of Operations' Season Review, please see bottom of article.

In part one of our look at how the safeties performed in 2011, we took a look at someone who is arguably the best player on the defense and quite possibly the entire team. And don't worry, I'm not referring to Moses Jenkins in any way so you can continue drinking that coffee.

Oh, you didn't think that?

You actually read Theater of Operations yesterday?

In that case, let's just move right along quickly and take a look at the other safeties who played significant minutes during this past season. I know it is shocking but it is true. I even looked it up. It's right there in black and white. Apparently, they go by the names of Josh Evans, De'Ante Saunders and Jaylen Watkins. Yes, I know that Watkins saw the majority of his time at cornerback, but Theater of Operations goes by what the player is listed as on GatorZone unless the committee rules otherwise.*

We'll go ahead and start with Evans first despite his penchant for taking horrible angles over and over and ov ... well, you get the idea. He did in fact record an interception against Tennessee (more on that later), so all wasn't lost with him. He did finish the season with the fifth most tackles on the team. I even looked that up as well to confirm. It checked out.

As for Saunders and Watkins, can you say growing pains? The growing pains were so evident in fact, that someone who shall not be named at Alligator Army actually thought Watkins was a freshman in 2011. What a sorry excuse for a fan that guy must be.

Moving along quickly yet again, Saunders had two interceptions (one in which he returned for a touchdown) and Watkins is still getting burned by Georgia Bulldog wide receivers. Wait, I'm fairly sure that Saunders was also burned on a 4th down pass against Georgia.

I thought Georgia were the ones who always got burned?

Play No. 1: Evans' interception on Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Tyler Bray:


(Photo courtesy of GatorVision)

Bray's apparent inability to account for Evans (yellow circle) who is shadowing him fifteen yards down the field costs the Vols here on this play.


(Photo courtesy of GatorVision)

Shaw has broken off of the man-to-man coverage and is now playing zone. He is also mirroring whatever Bray does. Notice the pressure that Jaye Howard gets. He is the one who flushes Bray out of the pocket.


(Photo courtesy of GatorVision)

At this point, Bray has decided to throw the ball. Still being pressured from the side, so he knows he has to hurry.


(Photo courtesy of GatorVision)

Either Bray didn't see Josh Evans, or he didn't put enough air on the throw.


(Photo courtesy of GatorVision)

Josh Evans completes the leaping interception with ease.

Play No. 2: Saunders gets burned against Georgia for a touchdown:


(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

Talk about one of your all-time mismatches. "Pop" Saunders, who is 5'8", will be covering Georgia wideout Michael Bennett, who is 6'3". Without help. How will this go?


(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

The ball is in the air and Saunders is staying with him at this point.


(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

The ball is now in Bennett's hands. Saunders is in mid-air, doing the best he can to knock the ball out.


(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

Bennett ends up holding on to the ball for the touchdown. Saunders actually had great coverage on the play; it was more a matter of height mattering more, and, well, Saunders is at more than half a foot of a disadvantage. There can be absolutely no blaming of Saunders on this play.

Play No. 3: Saunders' interception return for a touchdown against Furman:


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

One of the few positive plays in the Furman game.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Saunders (yellow circle) jumps the route.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)


Play No. 4: Watkins gets burned against Georgia for a touchdown:


(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

Georgia will have a height advantage on this play, too, though it will be a much smaller one. Tavarres King is 6'1" and Jaylen Watkins is 6'0"; while that is relatively even, there is still an advantage there for Georgia. It should also be noted at this point that the only reason why Watkins is in man coverage is because Riggs hurt his wrist and was out for the rest of the game.


(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

The ball is nearly there and Watkins is right there with King.


(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

Look at that coverage! Once again, a Georgia wideout makes a stellar play.


(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

Watkins fights to knock the ball loose the entire way down, but to no avail.

You know, I'm not going to knock them for trying. I think for the most part they play well for being so inexperienced. I also think that much like what happened from 2007 to 2008, you're going to see a much different (and improved) secondary in 2012.

*In case you were wondering, yes, I am indeed the entire committee. A one man judge, jury and sole decision maker of all things Theater of Operations. It's a post that is considered by people in high places to be right up there with the United Nation in terms of actual power.

Previous Season Review editions of Theater of Operations: Quarterbacks (parts one, two, three), running backs (parts one, two, three), tight ends (one part), wide receivers (parts one, two), offensive line (parts one, two), defensive line (parts one, two, three), BUCK (one part), linebackers (parts one, two), cornerbacks (one part) and safeties (part one).