Though he will never purport to be an offensive-minded coach, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp has been consistent – from the day he was hired – in describing the type of team he wanted to have on both sides of the ball: blue-collar.
Muschamp has always favored a powerful, dominant running game that would succeed behind a powerful, dominant offensive line. Ideally, Florida would run play action off of its successful runs and take shots down the field when needed.
On Saturday, those shots were not needed, nor were any play action passes, nor was any passing in general. The Gators dominated on the ground to the tune of 418 rushing yards on 60 carries. Junior Matt Jones (192 yards) and sophomore Kelvin Taylor (197 yards) became the first UF teammates to each eclipse 120 rushing yards in the same game; the duo also combined for four touchdowns, two each.
“This is the kind of game that we envisioned when we came of the great camp that we had. We needed this game to kind of get us going with that 100-yard mark. We definitely feel good knowing that this was our first 100-yard game together,” explained Jones.
Muschamp was pleased, too. In fact, the only thing that bothered him is that Florida had not been as productive carrying the rock earlier this season despite always being capable.
“I feel like we should’ve been able to run the ball more successfully all year. For whatever reason, we had gotten away from some things. I don’t really put my finger on one thing to say it’s one thing because I don’t think it is, I think it’s multiple things,” he said. “We have run the ball pretty well in some situations. I think we got to continue to develop in the throwing game. We didn’t [Saturday night] because we didn’t need to. But we’re going to have to down the road; that’s going to have to happen, there’s no question. We’ve always been a blue-collar identity team, identity offense.”
One reason why the Gators were so successful on the ground was the fact that Muschamp called out the offensive line during the week, telling them it was up to their position group to win the game for UF, especially considering the team was starting true freshman Treon Harris quarterback.
“I went in the offensive line room on Wednesday,” he said. “I looked at D.J. Humphries, ‘You played in this game as a true freshman at tackle. Can you imagine playing quarterback?’ Our guys are smart. They understand it. I don’t know if they took it that way. That’s the message that was sent to them, that they needed to elevate their play, number one, from our last ballgame because it was embarrassing, number two, understand the circumstances around you and what you got to do to elevate your play to help somebody else.”
Humphries corroborated Muschamp’s story.
“He made it very clear that this was going to be a physical game and we got to make it physical and we got to bring the fight to them. And that’s what we did,” he said. “When the head man comes to you and tells you it’s on y’all – period end of story – y’all got to get it done, all five of us were ready to knuckle up and go.”
Jones and Taylor praised their offensive line live on the air with CBS after the game. According to Muschamp, they repeated those sentiments in the locker room. While appreciated, the offensive line made sure the rushers knew the praise was not necessary.
“Offensive line, we don’t need no glory. We see that  on the screen, that’s plenty of love for us. That’s all we need,” said Humphries. “I’m just happy for them boys, man, they took care of their opportunity.”
What would Humphries prefer instead of praise?
“Man, I told them boys, ‘Hey, somebody got to buy us dinner, somebody got to buy us food tonight or something.'”
Jones, via his Twitter account, promised dinner would be provided for the offensive line Sunday night. Though, if one was to believe Humphries on Saturday, it would be a big payment for a relatively easy job.
“We were way tougher than they were, first of all, and then we just knocked the fight out of them,” Humphries said of Georgia. “By the second half, after we came out in the second half and we took it down on them, they were done. All the fight was gone out of them. Up front and their linebackers, they didn’t want to hit us at all.”
Difficult or not, the offensive line was dominant and the running game was exceedingly successful, just as Muschamp wanted. The result was a big win for the Gators and an early exit for thousands of Bulldogs fans, just as Muschamp needed.
“Beating Georgia was very good. Knowing that they beat us three times in a row, knowing that we got back and cleared their stands out, it just felt good to beat them,” said Jones. “It was great just seeing them clear out, just seeing the frustration from their fans, knowing that they was cussing us out before the game. We kind of took that steam before the game and gave it to their players.”
Photo Credit: Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press