The No. 6 Florida Gators (7-1) are getting hot at the right time after recording three interceptions in its 34-10 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats (3-6). One of the interceptions would come from freshman defensive back Tre’Vez Johnson, one of the future key contributors for the Florida defense.
Overall, the Gators defense had an up-and-down outing, specifically during the first half in contrast with the second half in which the Florida defense was absolutely dominating against the Wildcats. One aspect of its defense that wasn’t up-and-down, however, was its pass defense, allowing just 62 passing yards on the day.
Johnson, recording the first interception of his career was humble in the postgame, stating that there are more picks to come while reiterating that it was simply good to get a victory.
“It was great,” said Johnson when asked about his interception. “I mean, that was the first of many. But, like, it was good to get the win, I’m glad we came out with the win. But, it was exciting.”
Johnson’s interception would come against his former high-school teammate and quarterback in Joey Gatewood.
The Gators are not 7-1 heading into the final two games of its regular season against the Tennessee Volunteers and the LSU Tigers to finish a 10-game, conference-only schedule. With a victory next week they’ll be able to lock up the SEC East and head to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game, presumably against the Alabama Crimson Tide, who are the current leaders in the west.
Johnson is just one of many young contributors within the Florida secondary that is currently manned by veterans such as cornerbacks Kaiir Elam and Marco Wilson Johnson, he says, has learned from both of them, two “elite” players.
“I mean, they’ve been here, they’re the vets,” said Johnson. “So, I listen to everything they tell us, everything that they explain to me, I take it in because I know they know, they’ve been here. They’re elite, they do what they do, so it’s great to have them around.”
The Gators were able to secure two other interceptions beyond Johnson’s during the game, the first by linebacker Mohamoud Diabate and the second by safety Shawn Davis. Prior to the second half of the game, however, Florida was reeling defensively, unable to get off the field.
Even as a freshman, Johnson understands the ebbs and flows of a contest, knowing how quickly the tides can turn, eventually getting back to the “Gators’ standard.”
“I mean, we play all four quarters, you gonna have to play all four quarters versus us,” Johnson said when asked about the defense’s early struggles prior to turning it around in the second half.
“So, we know the game [is] never over, we know we come out here to win. So, just going into the second half, we knew we had to come out with more energy than we did in the first half. Come out, play better team, play to the Gators’ standard. So, I mean … we weren’t really trippin’, it was just something we knew we had to come out with a lot more energy and show what Gator football does.”
Gator football was able to hold Kentucky to 0 points, 46 yards, two first downs and 0-for-5 on third downs in the second half. A near-elite performance that was capped with an interception by one of the young defenders on the team.
“I know I got guys around me that’s gonna make plays. So, I mean, the coaches gonna call the plays, we gonna execute them. It’s exciting to get the first one, but at the end of the day, we not done.”