Dooley: UF knows bottom line


Florida Gators tight end Jordan Reed jumps over a Vanderbilt Commodores defender during the second half at Dudley Field on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012 in Nashville, Tenn. Florida defeated Vanderbilt 31-17. (Matt Stamey/Staff photographer)

The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 10:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 10:56 p.m.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — There were so many times you thought it was over, that Florida had escaped this trap game by gnawing off its foot to get away. A team that this week had more injuries than an MMA marathon kept finding a way to wrap it up only to forget to tie the bow.

Finally, a catchable Vanderbilt pass was dropped in the end zone and Gator fans could finally exhale.

Gator fans, you’re 6-0. You’re 5-0 in the SEC. You’re 3-0 on the road.

You may not be the fourth best team in the country, but your resume says otherwise.

And while this team has a ton of things to clean up and a trainer who is going to be working overtime this week, it flew home with another win.

“We have some serious issues we have to work out with this team,” said Will Muschamp after the game. “But we won the game. That’s the difference between this team and last year. We won the game. You flip those games, we won at Texas A&M, won at Tennessee, won here. You flip them, and I ain’t a good coach anymore.”

While the Gators gave their critics — many of them who are within their own fan base — plenty of ammunition for the water coolers and chat rooms, they won. And if you don’t know it by now, that’s all this coach cares about.

Style points? For sissies.

I’ve said it a million times that every college football season is about a handful of plays in a handful of games. On Saturday night in Nashville, you probably needed two hands to hold them all.

The gutsy-as-heck call for the fake punt was one of them.

“I felt good about it,” Muschamp said. “We were a little tired on defense. We needed to change the momentum.”

But it didn’t change for long because back came the Commodores. Again, it looked over when Pop Saunders picked off a pass, but, minutes later, long after the celebration, someone noticed a yellow flag on the field. And Vandy was back in business, scoring five plays later to make it 21-14.

That’s when the special teams, who have been quiet all season except for their two kickers, capped off a night to remember with a 60-yard kickoff return by Andre Debose. That drive would end with a field goal after conservative play-calling in the red zone.

“I told (offensive coordinator) Brent Pease that three points is really good here,” Muschamp said. “We’re doing what it takes to win games.”

But a defense that has been stellar all season played what was probably its worst game Saturday night. So, of course, the Commodores hit a 53-yard pass on the first play after the field goal.

Then came the biggest play of all, Jeff Driskel’s 70-yard touchdown run. Driskel broke Tim Tebow’s school record for rushing yards by a quarterback on the play and also broke the school record for fastest 70-yard dash.

“He’s really fast,” Muschamp said.

Ya think?

“Defensive backs definitely don’t expect me to run by them,” Driskel said. “Let’s keep that a little secret.”

Too late for that. The secret is out on Florida. They’re not going to wow you and they’re going to sometimes leave you scratching your head like when they came out of a timeout with 13 players on the field. OK, 12, I get, but 13?

“We come out of a timeout with 48 guys on the field,” Muschamp said. “C’mon. That can’t happen.”

But even though it did and even though the Gators gave up 23 first downs and even though they dropped passes and even though Florida had zero passing yards in the second half, they won.

The season is halfway over, Gator Nation, and your team is unbeaten. It keeps finding different ways to win games. It looks great against the best teams and beatable against the mediocre ones.

But it keeps winning.

And that is all that matters.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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