No. 17/18 Florida Gators football (3-0, 2-0 SEC) completed its second-straight come-from-behind victory on Saturday, taking down the No. 23 Tennessee Volunteers (2-1, 0-1 SEC) 37-20 on Saturday afternoon in Knoxville, TN. After the game head coach Will Muschamp and sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel discussed what occurred on the field and in the locker room.
HISTORY / STREAKS / NOTES
» Florida has won eight-straight games against Tennessee, the longest winning streak in the series between the two teams. The Gators are 23-19 all-time against the Volunteers and 21-6 since 1976.
» UF won its first game against a ranked opponent since Muschamp took over. Florida was 0-5 previously.
» The Gators are 2-0 when trailing at the half this season after going 0-5 when faced with the same situation last year.
» Florida is 6-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 7-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 50-13 in the second half and 27-0 in the fourth quarter this season.
» Florida’s 37 points were the most UF has scored in Knoxville since 1984.
» The Gators eclipsed 500 yards of total offense (reaching 555) for the first time since registering 520 against Kentucky on Sept. 24, 2011.
» Florida outrushed Tennessee by 253 yards (336-83), their greatest margin since running for 271 more than Kentucky on Sept. 24, 2011.
» Redshirt senior Buck Lerentee McCray notched his first career interception.
» Junior running back Trey Burton totaled 129 yards and two touchdowns. His 80-yard run (for a touchdown) and 32-yard reception were career-longs in each category.
MUSCHAMP’s OPENING STATEMENT
“I’m proud of our guys, coming on the road two weeks in a row in two tough places to play. Really poised at halftime again, no bickering, finger-pointing. It’s what we need to do to get this thing going. We need to give the offense more possessions in the first half. Third down was a killer for us defensively again. We had tight coverage. I’m going to give these guys credit now – they can throw the football. You look at some of the balls they threw in and completed. [Cordarrelle] Patterson and [Justin] Hunter are two outstanding players. [Mychal] Rivera the tight end is a guy and [Tyler] Bray was really on fire early, really made some nice, nice throws. A bunch of those on third down we had the match-ups we wanted in most situations.
“As the game wore on, I felt like we were winning the line of scrimmage. I think obviously our rushing yardage with [330+ yards], when you do that you’re going to win games. And we were able to do that in the ballgame. No turnovers offensively was critical and then defensively two turnovers for 14 points. So we’ve kind of flipped ourselves in the first three games a little bit on turnover margin; still need more on defense.
“I really think the pivotal turning point in the game was winning the line of scrimmage, first of all, but secondly that brilliant fake punt I ran at midfield and then we go three-and-out and then the next play 80 yards with Trey Burton. We felt like we had the counter on the backside. It was blocked beautifully. They overpursued the speed sweep. Trey cut it backside and out-ran them. Very resilient for our kids. They overcome coaching an awful lot, and I think in that situation they certainly did. I think that was a huge, huge turning point. [...]
“What we gave them they earned. We didn’t play much zone tonight. It was some pattern match and man-to-man. And we pressured and we tried to get after the quarterback. We only had one sack but I know we had some solid collisions with him. A little disappointed with how they ran the ball early in the game. Just pleased with the effort overall. Our guys did a nice job. Continue to play hard, continue to develop our identify as a team and a program. Not where we need to be but certainly better than we’ve been.”
DRISKEL STEPPING UP
Read the rest of what Muschamp and Driskel had to say…after the break!
He may not have been trying to sling the ball around the field like his counterpart, but Driskel spent his Saturday evening efficiently quarterbacking the Gators up and down the field. He completed 14/20 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns, was poised in the pocket, made plays with his legs (eight carries for 81 yards) and showed significantly improved decision making.
Muschamp was proud of Driskel’s progression though he again admitted that it did not surprise him. He was also complimentary about his signal caller’s surrounding cast.
“We’re playing well around him, too. I don’t want to take anything away from Jeff. He made some gutsy plays tonight,” he said. “That running quarterback gives you a whole other issue. He made some gutsy plays and runs and he’s a tough kid. He was very accurate with the football – 14/20 with zero sacks. I bet you’re all happy about that. The game will continue to slow down. He played extremely well. He got us in and out of the right runs in the right situations in the right protections.
“We’re playing well around him. Frankie Hammond takes a curl 70 yards. When you have things like that and you’re able to hand it off to [Mike Gillislee]. Gilly had 118 yards rushing, that’s just Old Man River; he just keeps going. They’re making plays around him and they’re not throwing it all on his shoulders. Hat goes off to Brent Pease. I think he did an outstanding job again tonight.”
Driskel agreed with Muschamp’s assessment. “We have athletes all over the field and we know that if we keep giving them the ball and giving them touches that eventually they’re going to break. Fortunately for us we hit a couple big plays when we needed them. That really changed the momentum,” he said.
Muschamp also believes this is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to Driskel’s development.
“I expect him to respond the right way. I expect him to respond with toughness. I expect him to respond with physical and mental toughness because that’s the type of young man he is. Again, there’s nothing he does that makes me wonder, ‘I didn’t realize he could do that,’” he said.
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Muschamp on being better in short yardage situations: “You look at the difference in the game in the first half. We got two opportunities to score touchdowns and we walk away with field goals. We’ve got to get better running the ball in those situations. And we don’t need to be tricking anybody. We need to run it downhill and hit somebody in the mouth.”
» Muschamp on committing eight costly penalties: “A lot of those are bang-bang plays down the field and if they call pass interference, it’s pass interference. That’s the way you got to look at it. I’m not sure on one situation where Xavier [Nixon]’s helmet comes off and a flag was thrown. I don’t know, I haven’t gotten an explanation. I think he took his helmet off and you can’t do that. You just can’t. That’s losing your poise. It’s not being very smart. And he knows better than that. He’s a senior. That will be addressed. We don’t sit there and pretend it’s OK. It’s addressed.”
» Muschamp said redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green was a game-time decision with an injured ankle; redshirt junior Kyle Koehne started in his place after playing his entire career on the interior of the defensive line.
» Junior defensive end Dominique Easley tweaked his knee at the end of the game but is perfectly fine according to team doctors.
» Muschamp on Burton: “He’s a good player. He can do a lot of things. He’s able to carry it. Slip him out of the backfield. He’s a guy that’s hard for defensive coaches to count. What is he? He’s a football player. All them 40 times that y’all think are important, I want guys that play fast.”
» Muschamp on the defensive line: “Got a lot of pressure with four guys rushing. When we went up two scores I just told Dan [Quinn], ‘We need to make them bleed right now,’ as far as moving the football. We needed to just hang in there, don’t give them anything cheap. We needed to play coverage and rush four. [...] When you’re able to rush four and drop seven, it gets cloudy in there for the quarterback.”