Florida runs its record to 5-0 with demolition of Ole Miss
Mississippi came into Saturday night’s game at Florida with a perfect record, plenty of momentum and squarely in the discussion as a potential playoff team. The Gators decided to change the conversation with an emphatic 38-10 win. And after three straight close games, Florida put this one to rest early.
- Getting out of the gate: Coming into the game, Ole Miss had outscored its opponents 65-3 in the first quarter in 2015. The Gators flipped that stat Saturday night in The Swamp, taking a 13-0 lead on the Rebels after the first 15 minutes.
- Coming up empty: The Florida defense pitched a first-half shutout against an Ole Miss team that came into the game averaging just short of 55 points per contest. The Gators sacked Chad Kelly three times in the first half and bottled up the Rebels’ running game as well. Ole Miss didn’t find the end zone until the game was already out of reach.
- Big-game atmosphere: This was the first meeting of ranked teams at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium since 2012, and a capacity crowd made things tough on the Rebels — especially on offense. It was fun to see that sort of intensity back in Gainesville.
- Turnovers matter: Will Grier and the Gators took care of the football, while Ole Miss had a couple of fumbles early that hampered its momentum along with two more fourth-quarter giveaways that erased any lingering doubt.
- Coaching matters, too: Jim McElwain and his staff had the perfect game plan. Offensively, Florida mixed the run and short passing game, which negated the Rebels’ pass rush. Defensively, the Gators were sound, tackled well and stayed away from the big play.
Offense: A — A nearly flawless first half from the Gators built a 25-0 lead, and understandably, they were far more conservative in the game’s later stages. Grier was in complete control in this game, and the Gators had enough success running the ball to keep Ole Miss honest.
Defense: A+ — In the first half, the Gators defense allowed almost nothing. In the second, with a healthy lead, Geoff Collins’ unit concentrated on not allowing any big plays from Ole Miss. It was a dominating performance from what looks like one of the SEC’s better defenses.
Special Teams: B — Jorge Powell missed an extra point, which led to a pair of failed 2-point conversions later on. Aside from that, the special teams were solid. Powell made two short field goals in the fourth quarter, Ole Miss didn’t manage any big returns and Johnny Townsend had a big night punting (47-yard average).
Coaching: A+ — McElwain and company deserve a lot of credit for putting a great plan together. The Ole Miss pass rush was a non-factor because of the quick-hitting passes from Grier. And on the other side of the ball, the Gators kept the visitors off-balance all night long.
Overall: A+ — If last week’s rally against Tennessee was special, then what should we call this? Magical? Florida took control of the game early in the first quarter and never looked back. It was an impressive evening for the Gators.
Florida offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier dialed up short passes all over the yard Saturday as Grier hit eight different receivers. Collins, for the most part, relied on his front four to pressure Chad Kelly and kept the Rebels’ high-powered offense out of rhythm. The Rebels had no answer on either side of the ball.
- QB Will Grier: The redshirt freshman was a sizzling 17 of 20 for 229 yards and four scores. At halftime. He finished 24 of 29 for 271 yards. Not bad for a guy that was supposed to be battling flu-like symptoms over the last few days.
- WR Demarcus Robinson: The junior hauled in a game-high eight passes for 98 yards and caught the game’s opening touchdown on a 36-yard strike from Grier.
- LB Antonio Morrison: It’s hard to pick one Gator on defense for a game ball, but the senior had 13 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and got in on a sack as well.
- DB Keanu Neal was shaken up after delivering a hit in the fourth quarter, and WR Ahmad Fulwood had to be helped off the field after making a leaping attempt for a catch. McElwain said after the game that both were fine.