9/24: Florida at Kentucky post-game notes

By Adam Silverstein
September 25, 2011

The No. 15 Florida Gators (4-0, 2-0 SEC) won on the road in impressive fashion, routing the Kentucky Wildcats (2-2, 0-1 SEC) 48-10 on Saturday. OGGOA takes a look at some of the notable occurrences before, during and after Saturday’s game with notes and quotes from both head coach Will Muschamp and the players.

DOUBLE TROUBLE IN THE BACKFIELD

Impressive in Florida’s season opener, senior running back Jeff Demps became an afterthought the last two weeks as redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey ran away with all of the acclaim. Demps obviously wanted to make sure that would not be the case much longer as he exploded for a career-high 157 yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns Saturday evening. Rainey did his fair share of running too, totaling 105 yards on 15 touches out of the backfield on Saturday.

Here’s what else the duo has done and what they can still accomplish this year:

» Demps/Rainey each ran for 100 yards on Saturday, the first time a pair of Florida players have done so since Tim Tebow/Percy Harvin in the 2009 BCS Championship.
» Demps has 320 rushing yards through four games in 2011 and is on pace to break his single-season mark by 220 yards.
» Rainey has 411 yards on the ground and 214 more through the air. His 625 total yards are more than he accounted for over eight games in 2010 and puts him well on pace to top his 2009 total of 736 yards.
» The 405 yards the Gators rushed for on Saturday is the sixth-most in school history and most as a team in a single game since 1989.
» Florida has had a player run for 100+ yards in four-straight games; the school record for 100-yard games is five consecutive contests.

GOING AFTER THE BALL ON DEFENSE

Muschamp has stressed over and over again that he wants Florida to be a “ball hawk defense,” and that is exactly what the Gators were Saturday. UF has doubled their forced turnovers over the last three games, stripping one against UAB, intercepting two balls in the Tennessee game and acquiring the ball four times against Kentucky.

Florida’s defensive tackles recovered a pair of fumbles – redshirt junior Omar Hunter fell on one and redshirt senior Jaye Howard caught another in the air, returning it two yards for a touchdown – and the Gators also nabbed two interceptions. Sophomore safety Matt Elam got his second in as many games (and third turnover in three weeks), and redshirt freshman linebacker Michael Taylor also saw a ball fall into his hands.

Junior LB Jon Bostic also deserves praise for an outstanding performance Saturday. He set career-highs in total tackles (10) and solo tackles (eight) and hit Kentucky QB Morgan Newton for a sack that caused the fumble caught by Howard. Bostic now has sacks in consecutive games for the first time in his career.

MUSCHAMP’s GAME RECAP
[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this post.]Early in his post-game media availability, Muschamp provides his own quick recap of the game as he sees it from offense, defense and special teams.

“[I’m] very pleased with how we responded in the game. The defense created four turnovers setting up 24 points, we rushed for 400 yards, had two backs each go over 100 yards [and took] what the defense gives you, which Charlie [Weis] has done an outstanding job of in our first four games. Very pleased with that in the run game especially. […] [ I’m] pleased with the turnovers and being able to run the football. Understand this is a line of scrimmage league, and you’ve got to be able to do that. As we move forward here, we’re 4-0 and we still have a lot of things to improve on.”

TURNOVERS AND MISCUES

The Gators kept their penalties to a minimum on Saturday (just five for 45 yards after averaging 11.3 for 90 yards over the first three weeks), but Florida still coughed the ball up three times. Freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel – in for temporarily injured redshirt senior John Brantley fumbled the ball as he was being sacked and threw an interception to end the first half. Junior RB Mike Gillislee, carrying the ball a bit to low, fumbled it after bumping into a referee stationed in the middle of the field.

Lucky for the duo, they made up for their mistakes with an explosive play later in the game. Gillislee broke out for a 60-yard reverse-field touchdown run and aided by Driskel, who threw a great block, on his way down the field.

INJURIES AND ABSENCES

Three Gators starters got dinged up on Saturday in Lexington, but none of the three injuries appears to be too serious. Brantley was hit hard in the midsection and missed the final few minutes of the first half before returning after halftime. He said after the game that he just had the wind knocked out of him. Rainey appears to come up lame after his right leg got twisted during a tackle, but he returned to the field shortly after and played the remainder of the contest. The only player who did not come back from injury was redshirt sophomore right guard Jon Halapio, who hurt his right leg and limped off the field.

There were also three notable players who did not see the field on Saturday. Redshirt sophomores tight end Jordan Reed (lower body) and wide receiver Andre Debose (ankle) traveled with the team but did not dress, while redshirt freshman defensive end Lynden Trail (performance) was left off the travel roster and remained in Gainesville, FL. “Both of those guys – we went through preparation – the decision really wasn’t made until Friday that they would not play,” Muschamp said. “We will be back to full board as far as our team is concerned on Monday.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Sophomore RB Trey Burton, who scored six touchdowns against the Wildcats in 2010, found the end zone for his seventh career score against Kentucky on Saturday.

» Florida allowed an opponent to score in the first quarter for the first time this season, giving up a field goal at the very end of the quarter.

» The Gators have scored nearly as many points in the first quarter through four games in 2011 (54) as they did in that same time period in the entire 2010 season (56).

» Muschamp said it was his call to bring Driskel in the game at the end of the first half and added that it would’ve been a great throw to the end zone if the receiver had held onto the ball better. “We’ve got to get Jeff ready to play in the game,” he said. In this league it’s tough to have one guy go through the whole season. I felt that we made the right decision though it was not the right result there before the half.”

» Muschamp on scoring 21 points very quickly: “Whenever you play on the road, they need to match your surge. When you play on the road, there’s a little momentum for the home team. You’ve got to bring a different surge to the game, a different momentum to the game. You got to create momentum for your football team and I think we did that for the most part.”

» Muschamp on Driskel’s two turnovers: “You learn and you grow through these situations and Jeff is going to be fine.”

» Elam on his interception:* “To win football games, you need to get turnovers. [The quarterback] is eventually going to throw me the ball if I just stay patient. Quarterbacks always make mistakes, overthrowing balls, tipped balls, things like that. I basically kept my eyes on the quarterback. It gives me a lot of confidence. When you make interceptions, those are big plays. It helps the offense, helps us get touchdowns.”

» Howard on his fumble recovery and touchdown:* “All I saw was Bostic hammer [Newton]. If we do that, it takes pressure off the offense. It just brings energy to everyone.”

» Hunter on wrestling with a teammate for the fumble recovery:* “We both had our hands on it. I just had to take it away from him,’’ Hunter said. “I didn’t know I was taking it away from him, but I wasn’t leaving without the ball.”

* Quotes courtesy of the University of Florida[/EXPAND]

5 Comments

  1. Basshole says:

    Towards the end if the first half it closer than I would like but it was a nice win

  2. jmlives says:

    Great win, scared by how confident I was going into the game. I almost fell bad for Ken. And then I remember their basketball fans and suddenly feel a lot better. Again our o-line was dominant. Great job, let’s stay disciplined next week. In Charlie we trust.

  3. Ken (CA) says:

    I don’t understand the way Muschamp is using Driskel. If he realizes that it is tough for a QB to make it through the whole season in the SEC, how come eveyrtime Driskel comes in all he lets him do is hand the ball off? Granted milking the clock witha lead is important, but how is he ever going to come up to speed with his progressions and check downs if he never gets a chance to throw against a real defense in a game situation?

  4. Gator Boys says:

    He has thrown the ball. I can tell because he has 2 INTs.

  5. GG says:

    Driskel will get his chance to throw when Brantley gets rocked this week. Doesn’t seem to be doing what he does best. If the throws not there, go get 5-10 yards with your legs!

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