Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

  • Florida head coach Billy Napier watches his team during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Tennessee, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn.

    Florida head coach Billy Napier watches his team during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Tennessee, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. Associated Press

  • Tennessee running back Jabari Small (2) is stopped at the goal line by Florida safety Trey Dean III (0) and others during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn.

    Tennessee running back Jabari Small (2) is stopped at the goal line by Florida safety Trey Dean III (0) and others during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/28/2022 8:28 PM

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing - including 247 of those on eight plays - in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a 'lower leg injury.' But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

 

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

'You talk about what he's been through from an injury perspective,' Napier said following practice Wednesday. 'Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It's no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he's very capable. I'm excited to watch him play.'

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

'I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,' Napier said. "Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. ... We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

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"Last week's game, I thought we were really close, but there's 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We've got a smart group here. I think they're very aware of what the issues are, and I think they're working hard to address those issues.'

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