Gators enjoy physical play
Published: Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 8:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 8:01 p.m.
Will Muschamp has been emphasizing since he's been at Florida that the SEC is a line of scrimmage league. To be successful, a team has to win the line of scrimmage.
Who: No. 4 Florida (5-0) at Vanderbilt (3-2)
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
That proved to be the winning formula for the Gators on Saturday. They won both lines of scrimmage and won the game, pounding out a 14-6 victory over LSU that has elevated UF to No. 4 in the nation.
“The effort was outstanding,” Muschamp said on his Sunday television show. “We played very physical on both lines of scrimmage. I'm really proud of our football team.
“We played really well on the line of scrimmage. We played a very physical, physical game.”
UF's defensive front manhandled LSU's offensive line, holding a powerful LSU ground game to only 42 yards rushing and sacking quarterback Zach Mettenberger five times.
On the other side of the ball, Florida's offensive line wore down LSU's defensive front in the second half and senior tailback Mike Gillislee ran through the Tigers for 112 yards and two touchdowns in the half. For the game, Gillislee gained 146 yards on 34 carries.
“We were playing well on the line of scrimmage,” Muschamp said. “We gave up a couple of plays here and there (on defense), but we were able to maintain the ball offensively.
“We got some things going late in the first half. I felt, and (offensive coordinator) Brent (Pease) felt, very comfortable about our running game as the half went on.”
On UF's first touchdown drive, the Gators went 85 yards in eight plays, six on the ground. It ended with Gillislee running 12 yards untouched for a touchdown.
On UF's second scoring drive, the Gators ran the ball all 11 plays and ended the drive with another 12-yard TD run by Gillislee.
UF's final 25 plays in the game were all on the ground.
“A thing of beauty, wasn't it?” Muschamp said. “It was great when you're able to do that and and wear them down in the game. Hats off to Jeff Dillman and our strength staff and the job they've done.”
Muschamp said UF's success on the ground Saturday was a combination of effort and scheme.
“Up front, we played extremely well,” Muschamp said. “We got a hat on a hat in the running game and were very physical at the point of attack on the line of scrimmage.
“It was well designed. We had lot of gap schemes where we were blocking back and pulling people to negate their speed and athleticism defensively. It was a great plan by our offense staff.”
And it was a great effort by Gillislee, who now has rushed for 557 yards and seven touchdowns on the season.
“He's a great example for all of us as far as a young man who does his job,” Muschamp said. “He doesn't say a whole lot. You ask him to block, he's going to block. He has to protect, he's going to protect.
“He's an outstanding football player. Tough. Hard-nosed. I'll take him over anybody in the country.”
While Gillislee had room to run Saturday, LSU's big, fast tailbacks did not. Muschamp cited UF's goal-line stand in the closing seconds of the first half as an example of how dominant the Gators were on the defensive front.
With a first-and-goal on the UF 7-yard line following a fumble by quarterback Jeff Driskel, the Tigers ended up having to settle for a field goal following a three-yard run, an incomplete pass and a run for no gain on a play where Terrence Magee was trying to throw a jump pass but couldn't because the tight end was covered by cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy.
“We have the saying around here that we're the firemen on defense. We have to put out the fire,” Muschamp said. “Regardless of the situation, turnovers happen. We've got to go and put the fire out.
“That was a huge, huge part of the game. To hold them to a field goal there, for them to really throw it two out of three times, says a lot about how we were playing up front defensively.”
The Gators won Saturday's game on the line of scrimmage.
Muschamp said the loud and energetic Swamp crowd also played a significant role in the victory.
“Our crowd was a huge difference in the game,” he said. “I want to compliment them. I appreciate them hanging in there with us. I know they've been through a rough stretch for two years, and I really appreciate their effort on Saturday.”
It was a big win for the Gators and their fans, but Muschamp said it's time to put that game behind them.
UF plays at Vanderbilt on Saturday.
“It's going to be a tough game for us going on the road to Nashville,” Muschamp said. “James Franklin and his staff do an outstanding job.
“We need to understand the LSU game was one game and it's over. We need to move forward. I'm very happy for our football team and our fans and the entire Gator Nation to get such a great win. Time to move forward.”
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