UF identity taking shape


Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel runs on a keeper during the second half against Texas A&M at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas, Saturday, September 8, 2012.

Doug Finger/ Staff Photographer
Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012 at 6:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, September 9, 2012 at 6:46 p.m.

Just two games into the college football season and the Florida Gators' identity is coming into better focus.

Facts

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*Who: No. 18 Florida (2-0) at No. 23 Tennessee (2-0)
*When: 6 p.m. Saturday
*TV: ESPN
*Radio: AM-850, 103.7-FM

It's not like the Fun ‘n' Gun of the Steve Spurrier era or the high-scoring spread attack of Urban Meyer that Gator Nation had come to enjoy.

“We're gonna grind it out,” second-year UF coach Will Muschamp said after Saturday's 20-17 win at Texas A&M. “We hung in there. We did what we had to do.

“We're gonna have a lot of games like this one. That's just who we are.”

On Saturday, the Gators took the best the Aggies had to offer in the first half. Texas A&M had 269 yards of offense and 18 first downs. On offense, the Gators scored on two of their three possessions to keep the game close at 17-10 at the break.

“When we came in at halftime, that's when I knew we were fine,” Muschamp said on his Sunday television show. “There was no finger-pointing. Everybody wanted to know what we needed to do to win the football game.

“We were an adventure on third down in the first half. We were displaced in some gaps. Really, the quarterback's (Johnny Manziel) legs was the only thing that hurt us. We knew it was correctable.”

In the second half, UF shut down Texas A&M, which could only manage 65 yards, three first downs and was forced to punt on each of its six possessions.

“We did a nice job in the second half,” Muschamp said. “Everything we had in the first half was very, very correctable. We just needed to get settled down a little bit, especially up front, and playing off blocks. I thought we tackled well for the most part against a team that creates a lot of space tackles. We just needed to settle down.

“The poise and resiliency they showed throughout the game to continue to play hard for 60 minutes is something we preach all the time and it is something that happened Saturday.”

Several UF players suffered injuries Saturday, including linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who was forced to the sidelines with a hand injury early in the first half. His hand was in a cast after the game.

“When you play in the SEC, that's part of it,” Muschamp said Sunday. “It was a physical game. We'll evaluate where we are today and move forward.”

Notes: The Gators will be on ESPN's College GameDay on back-to-back weeks. … This is the first meeting since 2007 that both UF and Tennessee are ranked in the polls. … The Gators own a seven-game winning streak against the Volunteers.

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