Gillislee rolls to big game for UF


Florida's Mike Gillislee runs upfield for a touchdown against Jacksonville State during the first half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, November 17, 2012. (Doug Finger/Staff Photographer)

The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 6:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 6:11 p.m.

Before every game, veteran Sun college football beat writer Robbie Andreu comes up with five pertinent questions and then answers them after the game. Here’s Week 11:

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Florida's Mike Gillislee runs upfield for a touchdown against Jacksonville State during the first half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, November 17, 2012. (Doug Finger/Staff Photographer)

The Gainesville Sun

1. The Gamecocks are giving up more than 180 yards rushing a game. Is Mike Gillislee in for a big day, his first since the LSU game?

Against a defense that is smaller and slower than the ones the Gators usually face in the SEC, UF established Gillislee early in the game and kept going to him. The result was his biggest game since he rushed for two touchdowns and almost 150 yards in the win over LSU. Gillislee finished with 122 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, busting loose on one run for 46 yards. He averaged 6.1 yards a carry. Gillislee now has rushed for 964 yards on the season and is only 36 yards shy of 1,000. The last UF runner to rush for 1,000 yards or more was Ciatrick Fason in 2004. Gillislee is not going to reach his preseason goal of 1,500, but if he rushes for 1,000 against UF’s tough schedule, it will be considered a huge accomplishment.

2. Jacoby Brissett is known for his composure. Will it be obvious Saturday?

Right from the start, Brissett looked calm and composed running the offense. He converted his first third-and-long with a 21-yard pass and never looked rattled even though he came under a heavy rush several times. Brissett showed nice pocket presence avoiding the rush and continuing to look downfield for his receivers or a way to throw the ball away. But once the Gators pretty much gained control of the game early in the second half, Brent Pease and the offensive staff pretty much took the game out of his hands and went with a very conservative plan. Brissett was limited to throwing screen passes in the second half, and the Jacksonville State defense was all over most of them. Still, for the day, Brissett put together a solid performance, completing 14-of-22 passes for 154 yards. Perhaps most important is the fact he took care of the football. He didn’t throw into coverage and he didn’t turn the ball over. So, yes, his composure was evident in this game.

3. Will the offense get off to its usual sluggish start, or will the Gators get rolling early against a shaky Jacksonville State defense?

It looked like the Gators were in their usual early game form when junior guard Jon Halapio was called for a personal foul penalty on UF’s first offensive play. But the Gators quickly overcame the major penalty and rolled down the field after Brissett converted a third-and-six from the UF 24 with a 21-yard strike to fullback/slot receiver Trey Burton. The Gators then covered the 55 remaining yards exclusively on the ground and ended the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run by Mike Gillislee. It was a rare game-opening TD drive by UF. What was even more rare is the fact the Gators also scored on their second drive of the game, moving from their 35 to inside the JSU five before having to settle for a Caleb Sturgis field goal. It was a rare quick start and a rare early 10-0 lead for the Gators.

4. Who will be the senior standouts on Senior Day?

This certainly turned out to be a day for the Florida seniors. They accounted for all of UF’s 23 points. Caleb Sturgis kicked three field goals, Gillislee scored the offense’s only touchdown on a 7-yard run and middle linebacker Jon Bostic returned an interception seven yards for a TD early in the third quarter. And they were not the only seniors who shone on this day. Will Muschamp singled out numerous others, including defensive end Omar Hunter, defensive end/tackle Earl Okine, safety Josh Evans, wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. and offensive linemen Xavier Nixon, James Wilson and Sam Robey. The seniors go out the right way in The Swamp, winning the game, making a bunch of plays and scoring all the points. A perfect ender for them.

5. Can the Florida defense stuff former Georgia tailback Washaun Ealey and the Gamecocks’ running game?

Not only did the Gators completely stuff Washaun Ealey, they also stuffed the Jacksonville State offense. Other than giving up the 76-yard pass on the game’s first offensive play, the defense did not allow the Gamecocks much of anything in recording its second shutout of the season. Ealey carried the ball six times and gained all of nine yards, his longest run being for six yards. The UF defensive front completely shut down the Gamecocks’ ground game, holding JSU to just 48 yards rushing on 29 carries, which comes out to a 1.7-yard average per carry. Stopping the run is always priority No. 1, and the UF defense accomplished that in a big way in this game.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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