Gators run through Seminoles


Florida running back Matt Jones hits the hole during the second half of the Gators' 37-26 win against Florida State University November 24, 2012 at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla. (Rob C. Witzel/Staff photographer)

The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, November 24, 2012 at 10:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 24, 2012 at 10:30 p.m.

TALLAHASSEE — Heading into Saturday’s rivalry game, few thought Florida’s offense would be able to run the ball effectively against Florida State.

The Seminoles ranked No. 1 nationally in rush defense, giving up an average of 70.6 yards per game and 2.3 yards per rush.

But the Gators’ ground game finished with 244 yards on 47 carries (5.2 avg.) and defied the odds in their 37-26 win.

“We weren’t expecting that to happen,” FSU defensive tackle Everett Dawkins said.

UF coach Will Muschamp certainly did, and he even took a shot at Florida State’s top-ranked defense.

“We had a lot of confidence coming in here being able to run the football,” Muschamp said. “We’ve run it well versus everybody. We’ve run it well versus better defenses.

“Also, when you turn on the tape and you watch Florida State, they don’t face many two-back power running teams in their league. There’s a lot of that one-back stuff. So you better learn how to (defend) the power and the counter when you play Florida.”

FSU defensive end Bjoern Werner echoed Muschamp’s comments about the Seminoles’ lack of experience against two-back sets.

“They had a good game plan,” Werner said. “They used great technique. The way they were double teaming — they did it (well) and I’ve never seen it before. I give credit to them.”

Muschamp said another key to Florida’s success on the ground was having all five of his starting offensive linemen healthy.

“We’ve faced some really good teams this year and we’ve blocked them all when we’ve been healthy, but since the Georgia game we haven’t been healthy,” Muschamp said. “And that’s been an issue with our offensive line. We’ve had some issues as far as getting a hat on a hat in the run game and blocking people.

“When we got those guys back healthy, I had great confidence in our guys of getting movement and being able to create some holes. And we wore them down. We were getting great surge, we were winning on the line of scrimmage and peeling them out of there. ”

Jones ices the game

For the second straight week, Florida running back Matt Jones delivered for the Gators late.

Against Jacksonville State, Jones rushed for a career-high 65 yards and Muschamp said it was his best game of the year.

The true freshman set a personal best Saturday, rushing for 81 yards on eight carries and his second touchdown this season.

Jones took over for Mike Gillislee (ribs) with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and Florida up by just a field goal. He answered the call with 73 rushing yards on six touches to close out the game, including a 32-yard score on his final carry.

“Matt’s been a guy that we’ve had a lot of confidence in all along,” Muschamp said. “Mike Gillislee has just played really well and (Jones) hasn’t been given the opportunity. But Gillislee got banged up, and Matt Jones played fantastic. We expected him to play that way.”

Sturgis sets record

Florida redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis set the record Saturday for the most field goals made in school history, breaking Jeff Chandler’s mark of 67.

Sturgis entered the FSU game one kick behind Chandler and connected on all three of his field-goal attempts against the Seminoles to reach 69 for his career.

He has made 23 field goals on the year, which ties Bobby Raymond’s single-season record. Three of his four missed attempts were blocked because of protection issues.

“He’s outstanding,” Muschamp said. “You fake a field goal and you really question yourself, because you know you probably just left three points out there.

“I’ve never been around a kicker like him where you put him on the field and you know he’s going to make it if we’ll just protect it. He’s the best I’ve ever been around.”

Etc.

Junior redshirt linebacker Jelani Jenkins hurt his right foot against FSU and was in a boot after the game, but he said he didn’t know the severity of his injury. … Junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd recorded his first sack of the season Saturday.

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