Published October 10, 2012 - 8:45am
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Florida is back, but even you die-hard Gator fans never saw this one coming. Florida physically punished LSU in the running game, wore them down in the second half and beat LSU at their own game. I never saw it coming.
What Will Muschamp has been able to do is nothing short of spectacular, really. He’s stuck to his guns from the get-go, establishing a power running game, a mauling offensive line and a stout defense that is progressively getting better throughout the season.
Here we are entering week seven with the Gators ranked #4 in the country, jumping West Virginia and Notre Dame after they punched LSU. The Gators’ defense is right where it wants to be sitting at the top of the conference with the likes of Alabama, LSU and South Carolina.
- The second-half adjustments have been nothing short of phenomenal. Florida hasn’t allowed a single point in the fourth quarter and 13 total in the second half through five games. The second half is where Florida implements the adjustments and wins the game.
- The Gators are fourth in the SEC in total defense, allowing only 284 yards per game and 11.4 points per game.
- Safety Matt Elam, linebacker Jon Bostic and lineman Shariff Floyd are the standouts on the defense, especially Elam and Floyd. Both will get a shot in the NFL and could potentially leave after this season. All three are playing at a high level.
- After finishing dead last in the SEC last season in turnover margin (-8), the Gators are creating more turnovers this season. Florida currently sits fourth in the SEC at +6 in TO margin.
- Punter Kyle Christy leads the SEC in punting, averaging 46.5 yards per punt. Meanwhile, the Gators might have the best field goal kicker in the conference in the strong-legged Caleb Sturgis, too. Both are quite the duo in helping flip the field and putting points on the board.
- Running back Mike Gillislee has been a stout man-child through six weeks of football. He’s third in rushing yardage (548 yards) and is the only back in the SEC to average over 100 yards in every game. He’s tough; he’s physical; he’s Muschamp’s guy.
- The offensive line has improved night and day. Position coach Tim Davis has done a fantastic job turning one of the worst positions on the team in ‘11 to one of the best.
- Quarterback Jeff Driskel is young but he’s improving every week. The best thing going for Driskel is not turning the football over and using his legs to win games in the second half. There is so much upside to this accurate passer. I want to see him throw for three touchdowns in one game…let it fly and gain some valuable confidence.
- Florida has to develop the ability to stretch the defense through the air. Florida hasn’t asked Driskel to throw the long ball much, mostly because Florida doesn’t have a big-play threat at receiver. The best receiver on the team is Jordan Reed at tight end. Someone needs to develop into a big-play receiver. It’s been Frankie Hammond, but he had a costly turnover against LSU as Florida was approaching the red zone. At some point, Florida is going to have to be able to put points on the board against teams that will score some points – South Carolina, Georgia and Florida State.
- One notable absence from this Gators’ team is the lack of a punt returner. The Gators sit right in the middle of the SEC in punt return yardage, but evidenced by Brandon James a few years ago, the Gators could use a nasty return man. Andre Debose and De’Ante Saunders look too scared to field a punt in traffic. Punts are being fair caught and players are letting them hit the ground when they could easily catch them to help with field position.
If Florida can continue to develop the passing game, as well as develop a downfield receiving threat, they can win every game on the schedule. However, there will be at least a game or two the defense will give up a few touchdowns and 17 to 20 points may not be enough. I love the direction of this offense under Brent Pease though. He’s brought a fresh offense and a new mindset, and he’s doing a fantastic job of developing Driskel in the process.