Gators efficient in red zone


Florida running back Mike Gillislee fights for extra yards during the second half of the Gators' 44-11 win against South Carolina at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Saturday, October 20, 2012 in Gainesville Fla. (Rob C. Witzel/Staff photographer)

The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 9:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 10:26 p.m.

In Florida’s 31-17 victory over Vanderbilt last Saturday, UF had four trips to the red zone and was forced to settle for three field goals.

The Gators made that a point of emphasis in practice this week and their work paid off in their 44-11 win over South Carolina on Saturday.

They reached the red zone seven times and scored six touchdowns. The only drive they didn’t score on was the last one of the game, when the Gators were at the 19-yard line and committed a false start on first down. UF had three consecutive kneel downs after that to run out the clock.

Florida sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel threw for a career-high four touchdowns and all of them came in the red zone.

“We know that touchdowns is what’s gonna win games,” Driskel said. “Field goals aren’t going to win games consistently. So when we did get our opportunity, and we got a lot tonight, we scored touchdowns and that was a great job on our part offensively.”

Three-and-outs

The Gator defenders did their jobs as well, holding South Carolina to 3-of-14 on third downs and forcing six three-and-outs.

UF coach Will Muschamp said being able to put Florida’s offense right back on the field fires up his defense and tires out the opponent’s.

“You wear the defense down, and that’s kind of who we are. We try to wear people out,” Muschamp said. “That third quarter was critical, they had zero first downs and we had 133 yards.”

In the third quarter, the UF defense forced back-to-back three-and-outs after two scores by the offense, which kept the momentum in Florida’s favor.

“It was real big because of our crowd,” sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy said. “It’s hard to play out there when the crowd is into it. It’s hard to get your calls off and move the chains. So that just swung momentum even further.”

Muschamp praised the Florida faithful for making an impact in the second-straight home game. The attendance Saturday was 90,833, the fifth-largest all time.

“Again, I want to credit our fans,” Muschamp said. “We got the best crowd in football. To go in that environment and that stadium and play and coach is a lot of fun.”

Respect for Spurrier

When asked what it meant to beat Steve Spurrier on the same sideline he used to stand on, Muschamp said his gratification has nothing to do with him being the coach at Florida now.

“It has to do with the respect I have for him as a football coach,” Muschamp said. “And not necessarily what he did at Florida, but what he did at Duke and what he’s doing at South Carolina.

“The guy’s been good to me since I’ve been here, and I appreciate that. So I got as much respect for him as anybody that’s ever coached (because of) what he’s accomplished and what he did for this university. I don’t ever like to use the word easy, but he’s made my job a lot more doable in recruiting because of what he’s created here.”

Etc.

Speaking of recruiting, several of the nation’s top prospects were in attendance for Saturday’s game. In addition to the 10 commitments from Florida’s 2013 class, some notable visitors were Alabama tight end commit O.J. Howard (Autauga, Ala./Autauga Academy), offensive linemen David Dawson (Detroit, Mich/Cass Tech) and Laremy Tunsil (Lake City/Columbia), Auburn linebacker commit Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett) and safety Marcell Harris (Orlando/Dr. Phillips). ... Junior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, who was injured in the first half and did not return, was seen walking out of the locker room after the game and said he hurt his hamstring. Jacobs was not limping and said he will be “fine.”

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