Notebook: UF controls 4th quarter
Published: Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 9:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 9:46 p.m.
In last year’s 41-11 loss to LSU, Florida was worn down by a more physical and conditioned Tigers team.
The tables were turned in 2012.
Under new strength coach Jeff Dillman, the Gators displayed some new-found stamina and have now outscored opponents a combined 78-13 in the second half.
“Obviously you’ve seen the improvement in our team,” UF coach Will Muschamp said after Saturday’s 14-6 victory over LSU. “I can’t speak for it if I don’t talk about our strength coach, Jeff Dillman. It was very evident out there on the football field we had a very strong, physical football team that had good endurance against an outstanding athletic bunch, especially on the defensive side of the ball.”
For redshirt junior center Jonotthan Harrison, Dillman’s constant messages during games have helped him and the UF offense.
“He’s a high-energy coach and we take that to the field with us,” Harrison said. “He’s always on the sideline telling us not to show the opponent we’re tired and do the little things right. And those little things help us defeat defenses.”
Harrison said the team has improved in the weight room and he believes it’s responsible for the better results this season.
“It has to be,” Harrison said. “We’ve been reaching new personal bests on power cleans, on squats and on bench press, but yet our bodies are still fresh. So whatever he’s doing, he needs to keep it up because it’s working.
“There’s evidence to show. Every game in the second half, we come out like we didn’t even play the first half. All the hard work, all the early mornings, all the conditioning, everything is just really paying off right now.”
Florida sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel said the Gators weren’t in this kind of shape in 2011 at Death Valley.
“We were way more conditioned in this game compared to last year. We weren’t gassed and it showed. We’ve been proving all year that we’ll be just as fresh in the fourth quarter as we were in the first,” Driskel said.
Work pays off for Watkins
Junior defensive back Jaylen Watkins picked off LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger early in the second quarter and put Florida in Tiger territory.
It was his second consecutive game with an interception and brought his career total to three.
Senior safety Josh Evans said watching Watkins’ work ethic this season has been amazing.
“He’s one guy that’s been coming in to study extra film and been working on his craft since day one. He’s shown a lot of improvement,” Evans said.
Winning matters most
According to research dating back to 1996, Florida’s 61 passing yards Saturday marked the lowest single-game output and the fourth time under the century mark.
Driskel threw just four passes in the second half and finished with 12 total attempts, while the Gators rushed 58 times for the game. But none of those numbers matter to Driskel.
“Obviously those (passing) stats aren’t the best stats, but the only stat that matters is the win and that’s what we came out with today,” Driskel said. “When the run is working as well as it was, there’s no reason to go to a passing game.”
Muschamp said redshirt junior linebacker Jelani Jenkins injured his hamstring against LSU, but it appears to be minor. “We expect him possibly back within 2-3 days.” Junior Buck linebacker Ronald Powell had a revision on his previously reconstructed ACL and has already began rehab. … Several of the nation’s top recruits were in attendance as expected, including receiver Marquez North (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek), offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (Lake City/Columbia), FSU offensive guard commit Ira Denson (Madison), Notre Dame linebacker commit Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, Pa./Wyomissing), defensive tackle Montravius Adams (Vienna, Ga./Dooly County) and safety Marcell Harris (Orlando/Dr. Phillips). Dade City Pasco defensive lineman Joey Ivie, one of 15 Florida commits who unofficially visited, said Saturday’s win will help in recruiting. “It was a crazy atmosphere and I think we’ll end up getting some of these guys that came to the game.”