One of the hottest topics around the SEC this spring was the possibility of Loucheiz Purifoy playing on both sides of the ball for the Florida Gators. Although it seems like a good idea, Will Muschamp should drop this experiment and use Purifoy strictly on defense.
Don’t let that last sentence fool you: Purifoy would be a major asset to the Florida offense. Sure, he didn’t exactly fill up the stat sheet when he played both ways last season (one catch for five yards, one rush for eight yards), but Purifoy has blazing 4.3 speed, which would give the Gators the legitimate deep threat that they’ve been missing since Muschamp took over. Even if it’s just in a part-time role, his presence on the field would make opposing defensive coordinators think twice before loading up the box to stop the UF ground game.
However, the Gators don’t win games by outscoring their opponents; they do so by playing a physical, aggressive style of defense that forces turnovers. Yes, moving Purifoy to offense might give it a much-needed weapon. But it would also strip the Florida D of one of its most important pieces.
Make no mistake about it: Purifoy was a crucial component of a UF secondary that finished 17th in passing defense a year ago. Although he did get beat on occasion, Purifoy turned in a solid season in 2012, finishing fourth on the team in tackles while breaking up five passes. More importantly, he forced a team-high three fumbles, including a crucial one against the South Carolina Gamecocks that gave the Gators an early 7-0 lead.
Simply put: there’s no way that the Florida defense can afford to be without Purifoy for any length of time.
So couldn’t Muschamp simply use him for just a couple of plays on offense?
While there’s certainly no harm in doing that, it would be a tremendous mistake. A jack-of-all-trades is a master of none. With games looming against the Georgia Bulldogs, Arkansas Razorbacks and Tennessee Volunteers — who each averaged over 285 yards through the air last year — Purifoy, as well as the rest of the team, would be better off getting as many reps as possible at cornerback. After all, practice makes perfect.
Defense wins championships. If the Gators want to win another crystal football, they must put their top talent on that side of the ball … even if he happens to be the most electrifying offensive player on the team.
Terry Johnson is a college football writer for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TPJCollFootball, like him on Facebook and/or add him to your network on Google+