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Gators secondary a key to success

Florida's defense has 15 interceptions this season.

Sam Greenwood

The No. 6 Florida Gators are one of the top teams in the country thanks to a unit that is playing much better than last year: its secondary. Says the Gainesville Sun's Robbie Andreu:

Florida's secondary last season was best known for what it didn't do.

Didn't make enough plays. Didn't intercept enough passes. Didn't come up with critical fourth-down and fourth-quarter stops. Didn't play with confidence.

It's been a different story this season for the back end of Florida's defense.

A more experienced, more confident - and deeper - secondary has evolved into a playmaking team strength.

Florida's defense has picked off 15 passes this season and deflected 38 more. Last season, the Gators picked off only six passes in 13 games.

Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said Wednesday he thinks having many players back from last year "has made a big difference. These guys have had the opportunity to play together and communicate together."

The Gators lead the SEC in pass defense efficiency at 87.5 percent. They've given up only four touchdowns through the air, and opponents have completed just 49.2 percent of their passes.

The Florida secondary is led by Matt Elam and Jaylen Watkins, who each have three interceptions. Josh Evans has chipped in with two interceptions.

Florida is back in action Saturday when it hosts Louisiana-Lafayette at 12:20 p.m. ET.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.