Joseph kicked it into gear for Gators, SEC Defensive Player of Week

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LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is sacked by Florida linebacker Vosean Joseph during the first half Saturday at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field. [Lauren Bacho/Staff photographer]

[Updated, 10-8-18, 12:05 p.m.] The deafening sound of the 90,000 fans in attendance Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium grew louder as safety Brad Stewart glided into the end zone for six, but linebacker Vosean Joseph was still looking to take things to another level.

The junior linebacker grabbed the ball from Stewart and proceeded to punt it into the stands of the south end zone, seemingly out of sheer excitement. Although it drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Joseph only had good intentions.

With UF’s 2008 National Championship team in attendance, Joseph looked to pay homage to the man who a decade earlier had capped a dominant 30-point drubbing of the Tigers en route to bringing a title to Gainesville: linebacker Brandon Spikes.

Spikes, who is a free agent after six seasons in the NFL, had extended Florida’s lead to 40-14 with his pick-six in that contest, and Spikes proceeded to send the ball booming into the stands.

The opportunity to recreate a memorable moment was too much for Joseph to ignore.

I just had to do it because I had seen it on Twitter,” Joseph said of his decision to punt the ball. “I was like, I’m going to boot it. I’m gonna kick it. Brad got it, so I was happy for him, but he gave it to me so I’m going to kick it.”

Joseph said he hatched his plan after being tagged on Twitter with a clip of the video, but the hardest part would be finding the ideal opportunity.

Considering Florida faced a quarterback in Joe Burrow who had yet to throw an interception — let alone a pick-six — it was unlikely Joseph would have his shot at repeating history.

Yet if that’s the play that, similar to Spikes’ in 2008, fans will remember from the game, Joseph is happy to have his name attached — but it overshadowed a career day on the field.

The junior out of Miami registered multiple career-highs against the Tigers, while also having a knack for getting in the backfield and finding the ball-carrier, maintaining his role in the defense in the process.

Joseph turned in a career-high 14 tackles, including a career-best 10 assisted tackles, and provided two of Florida’s five sacks on the afternoon. And Joseph more than doubled his tackles-for-loss in 2018, giving him 6.5 at the midway point of the season.

For a player who has been on the cusp of emergence —  and one who has often been deemed a hard hitter and not much else by uninformed observers — it was a coming out party for Joseph.

Instead of owning the moment and relishing in his performance, Joseph took the team-first road, crediting the 10 men around him with allowing him to be successful. Ultimately, it’s a mentality that has led Joseph to this point, and one that has seemingly revived the Gators in just six games under coach Dan Mullen and Co.

“I want to say my defense helped me out (tonight). They opened up probably some of the pass rush so I can get in there and get a couple sacks, bouncing it out to me so I can get on the edge. Anything the team had to do. One person can’t do it by himself,” Joseph said. “We just felt comfortable. We just went out there and played our game.”

Note: Joseph was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week, the league announced Monday after he recorded a team-high 14 tackles, including 3.5 for losses.  He also sacked LSU’s Joe Burrow twice for a loss of 14 yards.

Through six games, Joseph is the Gators’ leading tackler with 42, including 6.5 for losses.  He has also recorded three sacks, two pass breakups, one quarterback hurry and a fumble recovery, which he returned for 20 yards.

Joseph also earned the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week honor for his performance against LSU.  

59 COMMENTS

  1. Is this article for real??? Is this serious?? You give this guy credit for doing something “team first” because he actual gave credit to other players who deserved credit?? After he did something unbelievably selfish by drawing a 15 yd penalty that easily could have come back to haunt Florida??? He “couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make a memorable moment”??? Really?? It easily could have been memorable because it cost us the game! What alternate universe do the writers at the Gville Sun live in?

    • I’m with LT 100%! It was classless, selfish, premeditated, and always a 15 yard penalty. What Spikes did was wrong but at least we were up 40-14 and the game wasn’t on the line. It isn’t Okay because we wound up winning because the game wasn’t over when it happened. It wasn’t Okay because he had a great game (which he did). It’s the kind of attitude and action that we are trying to get rid of on this team. For me it was despicable and yes worse that Graham is celebrating and promoting the behavior.

    • LT. “Us”??? Really, “us”? LOL. Florida beat LSU. FSU lost to Miami. Maybe your Noles should have played that game with the same energy and emotion in the fourth quarter that Florida did vs. LSU and maybe the Noles would be 4 -2 instead of 3 – 3.

    • Get over it. The kid was all over the field Saturday. The kick in the endzone seats was Joseph trying to recreate what Spikes did when he went for a pick-six. I remember being a little irate when Spikes did it, but we won (by a large margin) and I got over it. Now Joseph can say he did in fact recreate that iconic move by Spikes. And getting these players to emulate the 2008 team (especially the competing and winning part) is not a bad thing.

    • nopriors. The entire team is taking on Mullen’s persona on and off the field. That is very clear now. And again, is A. Clayton still on this team? Injured? 8th team? In the doghouse? Suspended? Quit? Flunked out? What? Would love to learn his status on this team. I did not see him on the sidelines or in the game Saturday.

  2. A lot of guys struggled in the wait and react defense of Randy Shannon. He had a promising Freshman year only to take a step back…but so did Chauncey Gardner who all of sudden seemed like he couldn’t tackle. Now…they both are sure tacklers and make plays all over the field.

  3. LT , yea i guess it COULD have hurt us but it didn’t! Were you saying the same thing when Spikes did it 10 years ago ? CDM didn’t seem too upset about it. Actually, when asked, he smiled and laughed saying he was paying homage to the 2008 team! Give him a break and let them have FUN !! something the previous 2 coaches couldn’t do. Believe me, there were a lot more things that could have hurt Florida and didn’t. Seriously, lighten up!!! Great win Gators!!!!! Good to see the team actually having fun again!!

  4. Vosean needs to keep blitzing :). He’s pretty fast to the QB. Great GATOR TEAM WIN! We want to see just as motivated a group of Gator on Saturday against Vandy, especially with our achilles heal NOON kickoff. GO GATORS!

  5. LT, in memory of the late great Gainesville Rocker, Tom Petty (and the Heartbreakers).
    ”You’re JAMMIN’ ME! …take back your losing streak. You’re JAMMING ME! …quit jammin’ me!”
    Nothing but love and respect for T.P.
    From just ”another born and raised Gainesvillian.”
    Go Gators! Chomp-on V.J.!

    • Galvez. You can win with three stars on your team (proven fact), and especially with three stars that develop into really good players during their 3rd year on campus. But you win conference championships, make the playoffs, and win national titles (proven fact) with mostly 4 and 5 star recruits on your team. For recent reference, check the recruiting classes and rosters of Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and most of the teams who have managed to win some or all of the above titles during the last ten years. And the best defensive back on Alabama’s team last year was a 3-star recruit. But Bama had a bunch of extremely talented 4 and 5 star players that helped him get that way.

        • Galvezgator. I was if they were recruited by McElwain and coached by him and his staff. I think Gator Nation has a little more confidence in Mullen to both recruit and develop 3-star recruits that fit well into his system. Joseph did not fit well in Shannon’s defensive scheme, for example. He is a perfect fit for Grantham’s scheme. So, if McElwain has stayed at Florida, Joseph would have ended up being a bad 3-star recruit. He is a very good one now under Mullen and his coaching staff. They obviously recruit talent based on skill set, and then they used that skill set appropriately. McElwain and his staff clearly did not do that well.

      • 2018 NFL draft. 6-5*, 11-4*, 12-3*,1-2*, 2-unrated. Two of those 3* where Heisman winners. The gators only 1st round pick was a 3*. Agreed you need those 4 and 5’s if they reach their potential. A hard working, quality 3 can often lead to better results if properly coached. The gators have one 5 on offense and and one 5 on defense and neither is the best player in their group.

        • George73. Ivey is Florida’s best OL and was dominant in the LSU game. Taylor is an excelling 3-star recruit who will likely one day play in the NFL as well. Buchanon took three years to develop into a decent OL, and he was a three-star recruit. And Johnson is at best a fairly good OL that still makes way too many mistakes and was replaced by another 3-star recruit in Heggie on Saturday late in the game. And Florida has struggled the last few years because of two things: 1. Too many three-star OL recruits that took several years to develop in order to be remotely effective against SEC competition. That would include Taylor, Johnson, and Buchanon. 2. Poor coaching or failure to respond to good coaching (due to poor leadership at the top of the coaching chain) hurt in the development of those players. Clearly, Havesty recognized and developed something they saw right away in Buchanan and moved him quickly from guard to center. He is looking good there and could not get on the field before. And even Jordan is looking like an entirely different player. Looking forward to future Florida OLs, regardless of stars on their names, with Havesty coaching them and Mullen providing the motivating leadership.

  6. It’s appalling. I think he should be suspended for the warm-up for the Vanderbilt game. Or maybe something more severe like eating last for the pregame meal. He can’t expect to be considered for national awards like the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week with outrageous behavior like that….oh wait he did win that. I’m sure Mullen had a word with him.

  7. It was Excellent. The dude was playing hurt and did that for the Florida Fans. I wanted the whole team to celebrate. And with Spikes it was Great.
    You guys can go back to the Clown site any time now and continue the downward spiral you are in…..

  8. Actually, Stewart said after the game that it was an assistant coach (I forgot the coach he mentioned) who came up to him and told him that he should have taken a knee after the INT and to be more aware of situational football in the future. But the recruits sitting in the south end zone sure were impressed by the even louder noise made by the crowd on that INT return for the TD. Either way, Gators won. But they would have won easier if Stewart had taken a knee on that play.

    • I guess somewhere in the history of football it’s mattered, but how can anyone expect a 20 year old DB with the ball in his hands, nothng but grass in front of him, and 90,000 fans screaming for him to run to not cross that line? By getting the TD, he probably avoided injury from all the trash that would have rained down on him if he were kneeling on the 1. When you’re in the arena with a knife to the gladiator’s throat, the crowd wants blood, not smart play-making. I’d also argue this falls under CDM’s “Have Fun” mantra. (BTW, Tampa this wasn’t directed at you. I’m just putting it here so it makes sense in the conversation.)

  9. I have to eat crow here on some thing. Earlier this year I expressed strong disagreemeny with hiring Christian Robinson as linebacker coach. I didn’t like on the job training. Plus the Georgia bulldog thing. Plus he wouldn’t stay if he got better. Why not pay more to get the best I said….
    I did use the caveat that I hoped I was wrong. But I thought it would cost us a couple of wins. And after Kentucky I didn’t gloat but I was so sure I was right that I thought we would do better teaching ourselves. I pretty much went judge Chamberlain Haller on him like it was my cousin Vinny..
    Now I have to say publicly to Christian Robinson: you are one hell of a linebacker coach. You now have a big supporter not that you need it. For any elite linebacker recruit…if you choose some other position coach you are doing so at your own risk. There was an elite lb prospect at the game…and he has seen it with his own eyes…hang around Robinson if he will take you
    And to CDM I say pay the man. He’s good and we need him here. But it proves CDM has an eye for coaching talent which is huge. That may have been champ’s undoing because other than Dan quinn he never did well picking assistants. Same for Mac.
    Now for Mr Joseph. You are a 3 star in the newspaper but better than any 5 star. We’ve had some great linebackers..keep this up and you will be in Wilbur Marshall territory. Plus I like you. I don’t care about your punting. And keep the game going so we can get another inception…that’s sorta like what the ole ball coach would do when he had the offense going.
    I’m sorry to all that I’ve annoyed here but Man we have a hell of a lot of fun going on

      • and mr. Christian robinson has made me happy to say it! a lot of posters disagreed with me at the time and let me know, and I also appreciate the kinds words defending from you, #6! the original predictions of the team turned out to be right, I wasn’t on board with them. after Kentucky the pendulum went too far the other way, I stayed with the old 9 and 3 prediction. but now ive moved to 2 losses, these kids really deserve enthusiasm, so from here out I admit I’m a fan first, and not one to have a lot of skepticism. I also enjoy the conversation with everyone, it brings up so much good from the past, a happy time now, and a promise for the future. that’s not so easy to find these days. thanks again, and that also includes the newspaper guys too!

        • You know, we all — every one of us — said things before or immediately after Sep 1st that in retrospect we’d take back….if only we had had a crystal ball! In my case, I didn’t think this team would ever find its character, that they’d be stuck in 2017. Boy, was I off base!

    • I can’t disagree, BUT I kind of look at it as an exorcism. Be gone Muschamp years, begone McElwain years, be gone recent pain and suffering. I hereby put you in this football and punt it into the stands. — I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying sports and fandom are rooted in emotion and sometimes they get the best of all of us. If you don’t believe me, read through the comments in this forum the next time we lose. Peace.

  10. Hmmm.… if I had made my first career interceptions and it was a pick 6 against a #5 ranked opponent, I’d have kept that ball. LOL

    Emotions of the moment I suppose.

    Good job Gators. Very proud of you guys. I knew you had it in you. I picked UF to win my 8 and they did! I said run defense, a big turnover, and a big special teams play would win it for us, and that’s what happened. And how about that 64 yard punt by Townsend to bury LSU way back that time, he was huge for us Saturday.

    Enjoy it Gators. You played hard and deserve to enjoy the moment, but back t rok today for Vanderbilt.

    Go Gators!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. It is silly to complain about Stewart scoring instead of taking a knee at the one, even if the guy was coached to do so one could easily forget in the heat of the moment. Now the Joseph punt is a valid complaint because the resulting penalty could have been costly. It all worked out in the end however.

    • Well, the penalty would’ve helped us had CGJ not gotten a finger in the return man’s facemask during the tackle. LSU would’ve been pinned down at the 12. As it was, they started at the 27, only two yards better (for LSU) than a touch back.

  12. The punt was clearly a tribute to the 2008 team and Spikes, who was standing on the sideline. Maybe not the best decision, but I am OK with showing that tribute to all those 2008 guys standing on the sideline for the LSU game.

  13. Give credit to Vosean Joseph for being a great speed rusher, blitzer, but not so as a run stopper. Both of those long breakaway runs by LSU’s Bossetter(sp) ran right over Joseph. He acted like he wanted nothing to do with power tackling. He is light to be a run stopper. However, he has to develop some technique for those situations. You gotta figure a way to stop that power play. Again, he played a he** of game overall and I don’t want to take that away from him. Go Gators!