GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Like the rest of the Gators, Quincy Wilson is happy to have fellow cornerback Jalen “Teez” Tabor back in action this week because, well, he’s simply one of the best players on Florida’s defense or any other.
But there is another reason Wilson, especially, is excited for Tabor’s return from a one-game suspension .
“Jalen is an energizer, he brings the energy,” Wilson said. “Also with him on the field it will be a lot better for myself to get balls because as you know I didn’t get any balls this week. But with him back and Duke (Dawson) back, everything will be back to normal.”
Not surprisingly Massachusetts avoided testing Wilson, a budding star in his own right, last Saturday night in Florida’s 24-7 season-opening win.
The Minutemen were able to get a few big plays elsewhere, including beating sophomore Chris Williamson for a 53-yard completion at one point.
As Wilson discussed in the preseason, though, he expects to be the guy getting targeted as teams shy away from throwing toward Tabor, who came up with four interceptions last season.
He’s hoping that Kentucky stays aggressive after picking up some long gains in the passing game Saturday in its loss to Southern Mississippi.
Wildcats quarterback Drew Barker actually had six completions of 32 yards or longer in that game — including a catch-and-run 43-yard touchdown, a 53-yard touchdown on a deep ball and a deep completions of 41 and 33 yards as well. (He also hooked up for a 72-yard touchdown on a screen pass as well as another 32-yard pickup on a screen).
“They like to the throw the ball around. And we like teams that throw,” Wilson said.
As for his ballhawking cohort and fellow junior, Tabor wasn’t made available to reporters this week, but Wilson shared some perspective into what last week was like for the suspended star.
“He said he was just at the house, jittery, ready to get back out there. You know, it’s hard watching your team out there playing and you’re not on the field with them,” Wilson said.
Tabor and redshirt-sophomore tight end C’yontai Lewis were being disciplined after getting into a physical altercation at practice during preseason camp.
There’s no doubt, though, that for the Gators to reach their full potential this fall and be the dominant defense they believe they can be, they need Tabor doing his thing in the secondary.
It makes the whole operation that much more effective.
“I think there will be less explosive plays, that’s the big thing,” Wilson said. “As you know (UMass) had 70, 80 percent of their (yards) came on three plays. So that will get cut down.”
Florida held Kentucky to just 126 yards through the air on 8-of-24 passing with two interceptions last year in a narrow 14-9 win in Lexington, Ky. One of those picks came from Wilson (with the other by former star corner Vernon Hargreaves III).
For that matter, Kentucky’s 16 interceptions thrown last year were tied for the most in the SEC.
The Wildcats are off to a tough start this season after blowing a 35-10 lead to Southern Mississippi last week, giving up 34 unanswered points (27 in the second half) for a 44-35 loss.
The last two meetings between Florida and Kentucky have been tight, though, and Wilson is intrigued by the matchup.
“Watching them on film, they like to take shots downfield. I think it’s a great matchup,” he said. “They’ve got fast guys, we’ve got fast guys. Good receivers, good DBs. It’s going to be a good game.”
Ryan Young is a Florida beat writer for SEC Country.