Blew out: Gamecocks put Gators to sleep 36-14

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer did not plan it like this. He did not expect his team to get trounced at home on Saturday, less than one week after calling for The Swamp to be covered in blue as extra motivation for Florida to win what would have been its 12th Southeastern Conference East division title. Instead what Meyer and the No. 22 Gators (6-4, 4-4 SEC) received was a manhandling by the No. 23 South Carolina Gamecocks (7-3, 5-3 SEC) and head coach Steve Spurrier, who led his team to a 36-14 victory for their first SEC East championship.

Winless in their previous 12 games in Gainesville, FL, South Carolina finally got their first victory in a dominant performance that saw them rush for 239 yards compared to Florida’s 35. Running back Marcus Lattimore accounted for 212 of them on 40 carries while also notching three touchdowns.

The Gators moved away from the three-quarterback offense that did them so well the last two weeks, relying on redshirt junior QB John Brantley the majority of the game. He had arguably his worst performance as a starter, going 16-of-31 for 130 yards and an interception. Brantley did not have much help, however, as Florida’s play calling was suspect and its playmakers were held silent.

In fact, after redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, UF did not score again until redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey took a pass from redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed for a touchdown with 7:12 in the fourth quarter.

Gamecocks QB Stephen Garcia handed his team’s offense well, going 15-of-22 for 156 yards, finding WR Alshon Jeffery six times for 53 yards and keeping 12 balls for 28 yards on the ground and one score.

Florida struggled converting third downs, only doing so twice in 14 tries on the evening, and also had difficulty getting South Carolina off the field letting them convert 50 percent of their attempts (8-of-16). USC outgained UF 395-226 yards and possessed the ball for 40:46 compared to only 19:14 on the other side.

Though the game was seemingly out of reach due to their anemic offense, the Gators also turned the ball over twice late in the game including a tipped Brantley pass that was intercepted and a mishandled handoff from Brantley to junior running back Jeff Demps that was recovered.

UF now hopes to salvage what is left of their season as they take on Appalachian State next week in what will be Florida’s Senior Day – their final home game of the year.

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

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Week 11: No. 22 Florida vs. No. 23 South Carolina

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 61°F, clear skies
Time: 7:15 p.m. (EST)

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD
Sirius/XM: 219/199
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 22 FLORIDA GATORS No. 23 USC GAMECOCKS
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Steve Spurrier
Record: 6-3 (4-3) Record: 6-3 (4-3)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -6.5; O/U 51.5

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series 23-4-3 against South Carolina, are an undefeated 12-0 in Gainesville and 4-1 since Meyer took over.
» In their last three games against the Gamecocks, the Gators have won by an average of 23.3 points including a 56-6 thumping two years ago in The Swamp.
» With a win Saturday, UF would sweep the SEC East for the third straight season and 11th time since divisions were created in 1992. The contest is a de facto SEC East title game with the winner representing the division in the 2010 SEC Championship.
» Florida is tied for the national lead with 17 interceptions on the season. Seven have been returned for more than 30 yards – three for touchdowns.
» UF is back in the BCS, Associated Press and USA Today top 25 after being unranked in all three for the first time under Meyer. The Gators had been listed in every poll since he took over in 2005 until they lost to Mississippi State two weeks ago.
» Florida and South Carolina outrank each other in two of the four major statistical averages. UF is 77th in passing yards (200.4), 51th in rushing yards (158.8), 38th in points scored (31.3) and 23rd in points against (19.6) compared to USC being 39th in passing yards (248.7), 73rd in rushing yards (146.7), 50th in points scored (29.4) and 41st in points against (21.9). Both teams defeated Georgia, Vanderbilt and Tennessee this season, though Florida defeated Kentucky (South Carolina lost 31-28) and the Gators lost to Alabama whom the Gamecocks beat (35-21).
» The Gators’ offense has seen 15 different players overall score a touchdown this year – including defense and special teams.
» Florida is the only school in the nation that has four players with at least three interceptions. Overall, eight Gators have at least one interception.
» UF under Meyer is 41-1 when holding an opponent under 16 points, 29-3 when shutting an opponent out in the fourth quarter, 38-3 when holding an opponent to 35 percent or less on third down, 38-2 when giving up two or less big plays (15-yard run/25-yard pass) and 33-3 when the Gators defense scores or creates three turnovers.
» South Carolina’s Spurrier is arguably the most accomplished coach in Florida history with a 122-27-1 record at the school (most wins in history) along with six SEC titles and a national title. As a player, he won the 1996 Heisman Trophy while playing quarterback.
» Steve Spurrier, Jr., G.A. Mangus and Jamie Speronis were all former Gators coaches; Mangus was also a QB at UF from 1988-91.
» John Brantley and Gamecocks players Antonio Allen and Dion LeCorn all player for Ocala Trinity High School; Brantley was also born in Columbia, S.C.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

FLORIDA
» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley…who had thrown 156 consecutive passes without an interception dating back to 2009, now has a 8-6 TD/INT ratio this season after throwing two touchdowns last week. He has completed 156-of-251 passes (62.2 percent) for 1,616 yards and has a passer rating of 122.0.
» Freshman QB Trey Burton and redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed…both of whom will spell Brantley at quarterback in Florida’s new three-QB system. Burton set a school record and SEC freshman record by scoring six touchdowns in a single game against Kentucky. He has 10 scores on the season, has played five positions and is second on the team in rushing (55 carries for 278 yards). Reed got his first meaningful snaps behind center last week, going 11-of-19 for 120 yards with a touchdown and a pick. He also ran 16 times for 84 yards with another score.
» Junior running back Jeff Demps…who is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and still leads the Gators in rushing (488 yards) after missing two full games and being limited in four others. He was Florida’s leading rusher in its first five games of the season.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey..who returned to action for the first time in over a month against Georgia and has 23 carries for 108 yards (along with 12 receptions for 118 yards) and two touchdowns this year.
» Sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr.…who is quickly becoming one of Florida’s most important pass catchers. He was the team’s leading receiver against Mississippi State and caught three passes for 46 yards against Georgia and another three passes for 49 yards and a touchdown against Vanderbilt the following week.
» Senior punter Chas Henry…who is the end-all be-all of Florida’s kicking game now that he has taken over for junior Caleb Sturgis (back) as the team’s field goal kicker. Henry had missed five-straight field goal attempts (one negated by penalty) before nailing back-to-back kicks in the fourth quarter and overtime two weeks ago.
» Florida’s secondary…which has intercepted 13 balls this season including one last week against Vanderbilt. Starters senior safety Ahmad Black (three), junior CB Janrois Jenkins (three), redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown (three), and junior S Will Hill (three) have accounted for all but one of the unit’s picks.
» Black…who has led Florida in tackles six times this season: vs. LSU (13), Georgia (12), Miami (10), Mississippi State (10), USF (8) and Vanderbilt (4). He is tops on the team overall with 77 tackles, including six for loss.

SOUTH CAROLINA
» WR Alshon Jeffrey…one of the best pass catchers in college who leads the SEC with 114.9 yards and seven touchdowns.
» RB Marcus Lattimore…who ranks second in the SEC in rushing average with 94.0 yards per game to go along with 11 touchdowns.
» QB Stephen Garcia…who has taken over the starting job and thrown for 2,065 yards on 151-of-223 passing with a 14-9 TD/INT ratio. Garcia also has 140 rushing yards on 69 attempts along with four touchdowns.

INJURIES

Active
Junior RB Jeff Demps (foot), redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaye Howard, redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose (ankle)

Inactives
Redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan (broken wrist), junior K Caleb Sturgis (back), sophomore LB Dee Finley (fractured collarbone), freshmen RB Mack Brown, WRs Quinton Dunbar and Chris Dunkley (hamstrings)

FLORIDA ON ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

The match-up between the Gators and Gamecocks will be heavily featured during ESPN’s College GameDay broadcast beginning at 9 a.m. on ESPNU (hosted by Erin Andrews) and continuing from 10 a.m. until noon on ESPN. An entire segment of Saturday’s main program will be dedicated specifically to the Florida-South Carolina match-up with video packages and analysis from the show’s three hosts – Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit. The trio – along with a guest – will also be picking the game in the show’s final segment.

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators vs. USC Gamecocks preview after the jump!
Continue Reading » Week 11: No. 22 Florida vs. No. 23 South Carolina

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11/10: Florida coach Meyer’s SEC teleconference

OGGOA had the opportunity to participate in Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer’s Southeastern Conference teleconference on Wednesday (we will be doing so every week). Below are some notes from the event:

GROWING RELATIONSHIP WITH SPURRIER

Upon taking the Florida job, Meyer told anyone who would listen that one of the main reasons he did so was because he loved watching head coach Steve Spurrier‘s teams in the 1990s and had great respect for the Gators. Asked Wednesday how Spurrier’s continued prescence on the campus affects him, Meyer explained the two have become quite close since he arrived in Gainesville, FL.

“We’re fairly good friends now. Him and his wife and my wife and myself, we’re good friends. I actually lean on him quite a bit about the University of Florida when we get together,” he said. “He was Florida. He’s the reason I came here. I had such admiration for the way his teams played.”

RECRUITING ANOTHER DROP-BACK QUARTERBACK

Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley has always been more of a drop-back, pro-style passer. This was known the day he was recruited and every day since. Meyer addressed whether or not he would recruit a similar player again or if he would instead simply find guys who fit his system a bit better.

“We’ve played a multitude of different styles of offense really since I’ve been a head coach. It’s all about the personnel,” he said. “To be a drop-back quarterback, you really need a 220 lb. [running] back to hand off too. You also need a very stout and experienced tight end, which [we don’t have]. We’re going to continue recruiting the best players we can get our hands on and adapt to that. [...] If we do [recruit another drop-back QB], we just have to make sure we have the pieces around him to give that guy a chance.”

ADDRESSING NEWTON QUESTIONS ONE LAST TIME

Meyer began Wednesday’s media availability with a short statement aimed to prompt against any more questions regarding Auburn Tigers QB Cameron Newton.

“I addressed recent news stories yesterday that our [sports information director]made me aware of in the early afternoon,” he said. “Those stories have absolutely nothing to do with our team and preparation for South Carolina. Our entire focus is and will always be on our team. I will say, however, that I was very supportive of Cam when he left here and Cam and his family know that and we wish him all the best.”

Asked later if he felt a statement on the Newton allegations was necessary, Meyer replied, “I didn’t. My SID thought it was important. I didn’t want to do it to be honest with you. Whatever they tell me to do, I’ll do.”

MEYER & SPURRIER QUOTES (After the break…)
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11/9: Addazio, players speak to the media

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, and defensive tackles redshirt senior Terron Sanders and redshirt sophomore Omar Hunter spoke to the media Tuesday as the team took a final look back on its win against the Vanderbilt Commodores and ahead to its game against the South Carolina Gamecocks.

THREE-HEADED MONSTER BEHIND CENTER

With redshirt junior starter John Brantley, redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed and freshman Trey Burton all sharing quarterbacking duties these days, Addazio was asked Tuesday if he has ever seen a team employ a similar strategy and why it happens to work for Florida. “No. Three quarterbacks? No, I have not,” he said. “For us it’s working right now, and it’s working because we have some really unselfishness guys who really want all for the team and winning. That’s very evident. It’s created a level of excitement and energy; it’s been a real positive thing for us.”

Though each player has his own specialized plays and duties, managing three signal callers with such unique skills is proving to be a work in progress for the entire coaching staff. “You’re moving a lot of checkers around and that takes a lot of time,” Addazio said. “You got to be exact in your practice time; you have to be exact in things. Systematically it’s a little different routine than what you’ve been accustomed to. Our whole deal has always been trying to get the right pieces in the right places.”

SATURDAY’s BIG GAME WEIGHING ON SENIORS IN GOOD WAY

In addition to playing for the Southeastern Conference Eastern division title on Saturday, the Gators’ senior class will be participating in their last home game of real significance seeing as Florida State is a road game this year. Sanders realizes how important the outcome of the game is not only to the team but also his classmates. “This is a make it or break it game for us,” he said. “As seniors, we don’t want to not make it to the SEC Championship game. It will hurt knowing that we had it right in the grasp of our fingertips and we let it go if we don’t come out and do what we need to do.”

Hunter, who has been wearing the orange and blue for some pretty big games already in his young career, doesn’t think Florida holds any advantage due to the game’s importance. “I think it’s irrelevant. It’s the SEC. Every week is a big game,” he said.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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11/8: Straight from the Gators’ mouths…

Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, senior center Mike Pouncey and senior safety Ahmad Black answered questions for the media on Monday about a variety of topics concerning the Florida Gators and their win on Saturday over the Vanderbilt Commodores on the road in Nashville, TN. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

RAINEY MAKING MOST OF SECOND CHANCE

Ask an outsider about redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey, and they will likely tell you head coach Urban Meyer’s concern about fielding a winning team was the reason he allowed the troubled athlete back on the field two weeks ago. Talk to his close friends, teammates and brothers and you will get a completely different story.

“It’s his attitude about the game,” said Pouncey on Monday when asked how Rainey has changed the second time around. “He appreciates it more just because it was almost taken from him. I’m glad to see that he’s doing well. We need him to play good every week. I’m just glad he’s back out there. All Chris has is football. He’s had a rough life. I think Florida has given him a second opportunity to do well at this sport.

“I was [worried about him]. Chris really doesn’t have any family outside of me and my family. It was tough on him because he obviously had a lot of time on his hands without being a part of the football team. He’s just glad to be back. He doesn’t say anything at practice. He just goes hard, and that’s how it should be.”

Meyer has been criticized for being “easy” on players who make mistakes with his detractors saying he has no control of behavior. However, to Meyer, giving a kid a second chance at a meaningful life has always been of primary importance. “Coach Meyer knew [about Rainey’s issues],” Pouncey added. “Him and coach Meyer have a special relationship. He knew Rainey’s past and his whole life story, so he understood the fact that this [is] all he has.”

BRANTLEY NOT BOTHERED BY REDUCED ROLE

With a lacking run game and struggling offense, Florida’s coaching staff has been utilizing freshman Trey Burton and redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed along with Brantley behind center. According to the player, he’s perfectly fine with taking fewer snaps as long as it helps the team win. “We had to get our running game going and, no matter what it takes, we’ll do it. I’ll do it,” he said. It doesn’t matter to me as long as we win games and as long as we fight for that spot like we’re doing for the SEC Championship.”

Meyer and Pouncey both gave Brantley their vote of confidence on Monday, calling him “the” quarterback of the Gators. “I guess that means I’m the leader of the ship – that’s the role I’ve taken on this offseason and all summer, coming into camp and everything,” Brantley said. “That’s the way I look at it – that I still need to lead this team. Even though I’m not taking all the snaps, that’s fine with me, I just got to be able to lead the troops and keep this thing rolling.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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11/8: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Head coach Urban Meyer and a small group of players meet with the media each Monday before the Florida Gators compete in a game the following Saturday. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

SUNDAY FUNDAY = BLUE-OUT SATURDAY

During his weekly Florida Football with Urban Meyer post-game program on Sunday, Meyer looked back at the team’s victory against the Vanderbilt Commodores with great pride – especially for the fans. “Gator Nation covered that stadium. We came rolling in there at 9:00 in the morning – orange and blue everywhere,” he said. “I even heard one of our players say, ‘You know you took over a stadium when they’re doing the wave’ – the orange and blue people. It was great, and I want to thank them.

“This team – we’re not a great team – but we’re getting better, getting better in all areas. I admire guys that fight, show toughness, come together as a team and give everything for their university. I’ve never really done this, but I want to make this the most intense stadium in the history of Florida football this Saturday. This is for the SEC [East] Championship. Get there early. I want everybody to wear blue – head-to-toe – including our players. Let’s make this one of those ones, when you get those great books about Florida Gator history, let’s put this down in there as one of the great weekends in Florida football history.

“November in Gainesville playing for a championship, this is why we’re all here. Once again, I’m going to go on record – I want this to be the most intense week in Florida football history. Let’s wear blue, let’s make this place nuts, let’s have a lot of fun with this, and let’s show up and make this one of the ones you put this right in the history books as one of the great days in Florida football history.”

STATUS / INJURY UPDATES

Discussing Saturday that freshman defensive tackle Dominique Easley was basically in the coaching staff’s doghouse and did not travel with the team to Vanderbilt, Meyer said Monday that he is still with the team but “has got to do things we ask him to do” in order to get back involved. He is confident that everything will be worked out in the end.

» Junior running back Jeff Demps – will play Saturday, how much is not yet known
» Redshirt sophomore DT Jaye Howard – “promising” that he will be able to play
» Redshirt sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan – seeing a specialist on his wrist due to an ongoing problem, likely out for the season
» Junior kicker Caleb Sturgis – out

CHAMPIONS

Meyer announced Monday that 18 Gators had earned the designation of Champions after Saturday’s win over the the Commodores. Offensively, Meyer named redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed as his most valuable player along with redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey, freshman quarterback Trey Burton, redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr., senior center Mike Pouncey, redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson, redshirt senior tackle Marcus Gilbert, redshirt senior guard Maurice Hurt, redshirt junior fullback Steven Wilks, sophomore RB Mike Gillislee, freshman TE Gerald Christian and redshirt freshman G Jonotthan Harrison as his champions. On the defensive side of the ball, freshman DT Sharrif Floyd won the MVP award, while redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins, redshirt senior DT Terron Sanders, redshirt sophomore defensive end Lerentree McCray, redshirt senior linebacker A.J. Jones and senior LB Brandon Hicks were champions.

Rainey also earned the Southeastern Conference‘s Special Teams Player of the Week award for his two blocked punts against Vanderbilt.

LEAK > SPURRIER?

When discussing redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley on Monday, Meyer said as an aside that former starter Chris Leak was one of the top three signal callers in school history. Asked to evaluate that statement later, Meyer said, “I go champion – champion – champion,” when judging quarterbacks, rather than worrying about who has won the Heisman Trophy. That puts Leak over current South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier…at least in Meyer’s book.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Week 10: Gators post-game news & notes

Winning their second-straight game, this time in dominant fashion, the Florida Gators (6-3, 4-3 SEC) toppled the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-7, 1-5 SEC) 55-14 in Nashville, TN, at Vanderbilt Stadium. With so much to discuss, OGGOA presents some important notes and quotes following the contest.

RAINEY’s REDEMPTION PART II

Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey has been one of Florida’s best performers in back-to-back games. With two blocked punts and a 40-yard touchdown reception in which he came back for an under-thrown ball, Rainey is quickly proving to head coach Urban Meyer that he has his head on straight and is ready to be a valued member of the team. “He hit rock bottom and he had one way to go,” Meyer said after the game. “Good for him. To even be on football, good for him. He’s doing much better in school and the thumb is on him real hard, so his whole work ethic has changed and everything.” He also discussed Rainey’s punt blocks. “You talk about a momentum shift. [Chris] Rainey’s a very unique, skilled athlete that can come off that edge that’s skinny like that,” he said. “Ninety percent of the time we win or are undefeated when we get a hand on a punt. Great momentum change.”

TEAM CHEMISTRY AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH

Having won their last two contests, the Gators are feeling good – especially considering one was an overtime thriller and the other was a shellacking. Meyer is pleased with how the team is currently assembled and thinks, now that most everyone is healthy, they can continue their progress. “I just like the chemistry of our team right now. The way they hang out with each other at the hotel. You see a gelling right now,” he said. “You take some good players out of your team and you don’t look as good. I’m very excited about the chemistry of our team right now. We needed this.”

Florida is feeling so good these days that, before the game was even over, players on the sidelines were talking about playing South Carolina next week for the Southeastern Conference Eastern division title. “[They were talking about it] a lot. I tried to encourage them to. I wanted the focus,” Meyer said. “We’ve learned some great lessons around here in the past of a team being ready to play a big-time game and maybe a team not being ready to go play a big-time game. So that was my whole message to them. I like the look. If they’re talking about next week’s game obviously when this one is over, it’s real clear what the focus is. [...] I think we’re finishing strong and obviously it’s championship week in Gainesville, Florida. So we’re going to get back to work as soon as we can and everybody’s excited about it.”

REED-IRECTING OFFENSE

Saturday saw the emergence of redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed as a legitimate offensive option for the Gators as he accounted for 120 yards through the air, 84 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Meyer was complimentary of Reed after the game and hopes to utilize him more as the season goes on. “He’s a freak athlete. I think we did it right. Hindsight is 20-20 how we’re pushing him into this offense,” he said. “Obviously you can see what a dynamic runner [he] is, he’s got a nice arm. We don’t have that big runner – and he gives us that. […] He’s tight end and quarterback. He’ll be a single-wing quarterback and a tight end for us.”

PLAYER STATUS UPDATES

» Freshman defensive tackle Dominique Easley: “He’s not on the travel team – just not a part of the team right now. Lot of reasons. […] He’s not part of the travel team.”
» Freshman running back Mack Brown: “He’s been having hamstrings all year, so we just didn’t want to risk it. But his attitude has been fantastic.”
» Junior RB Jeff Demps: “Jeff was available, but we wanted to be smart. He didn’t practice much this week. It was very painful on him this week. We’ll know more this week, but I’m planning on him being ready for South Carolina.”
» Redshirt sophomore DT Jaye Howard: Meyer expects him to return next week after having nursed a serious ankle injury for 2-3 weeks.

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » Week 10: Gators post-game news & notes

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Gators knock down ‘Dores 55-14 in Nashville

It may have been cold in Nashville, TN, Saturday afternoon, but no one was hotter than the Florida Gators (6-3, 4-3 SEC), who piled up 41 points in the first half on the way to a rout of the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-7, 1-5 SEC) 55-14 in Vanderbilt Stadium.

Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey stole the show early, blocking two punts and catching a 40-yard touchdown pass from redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, who finished the day 11-of-18 for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Rainey also had a career-high and game-high 75 yards receiving.

With junior running back Jeff Demps out of action as a precaution, sophomore RB Mike Gillislee led Florida on the ground with nine rushes for 61 yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed, added to the Gators’ quarterback rotation last week, also shined in the contest completing 11-of-19 attempts for 120 yards, a touchdown and an interception while also rushing 16 times for 84 yards and a score.

As per usual this season, Florida started off slow but got on the board with 8:47 left in the first quarter on Gillislee’s first touchdown run. The second quarter saw the Gators post 34 points including a 31-yard pass from Reed to redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson, Rainey’s 40-yard touchdown catch, a 45-yard fumble return touchdown from redshirt senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders, a 39-yard touchdown reception by redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. and a 42-yard punt block return touchdown from freshman WR Solomon Patton.

The Commodores finally got on the board in the beginning of the third quarter when Sanders missed a block on a punt; Vanderbilt knocked down the ball and cornerback Javon Marshall returned it four yards for a special teams score. They would also score on a six-yard reception from QB Jared Funk to WR Jordan Matthews made possible after a Reed interception.

Florida took its foot off the gas at halftime, substituting almost every starter and still scoring 14 more points in the third quarter on a 43-yard run by Gillislee and a six-yard rush from Reed. The Gators’ 41 first-half points were its most in a Southeastern Conference game since 2005, it’s 55 points on the road were the most since 1997 (Kentucky), and its 88 plays and 480 total yards of offense were both season-highs.

Defensively, redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins notched a team-high eight tackles, while freshman DT Sharrif Floyd had a breakout performance with a career-high seven tackles (three for loss) and some monstrous hits. Redshirt sophomore LB Lerentree McCray and senior safety Ahmad Black each forced fumbles, sophomore S Josh Evans grabbed an interception, and UF’s seniors also accounted for four sacks with one each from linebackers Brandon Hicks and A.J. Jones and defensive ends Duke Lemmens and Justin Trattou.

Florida’s win Saturday set them up for a showdown with South Carolina next week in Gainesville, FL, in a de facto SEC East title game with the winner advancing to the 2010 SEC Championship in Atlanta, GA. The game will air at 7:15 p.m. on ESPN or ESPN2.

Photo Credit: Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

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