Florida Gators: Winners and Losers from the Week 3 Game vs. Tennessee
There is a buzz starting to build in Gainesville.
In his second year, Will Muschamp has a team that has bought into his system and is hungry to prove it is better than the 7-6 record it posted a year ago.
The Gators got their second come-from-behind win against Tennessee and kept the hyped-up Tennessee crowd quiet for most of the second half. The offense played their best game of the season and the defense was able to make halftime adjustments and shut down the Vols' high-powered passing attack.
After such a good performance on both sides of the ball, this list will be a little lopsided, but let's find out who the winners and losers were in Florida's 37-20 win over Tennessee.
Winner: Caleb Sturgis
Caleb Sturgis is a machine.
Sturgis was 3-of-3 against Tennessee and connected on all four of his extra-point attempts.
Sturgis was a finalist last season for the Lou Groza Award and is putting together a pretty impressive resumé this season. On the year, Sturgis is 7-of-8 on field goals and has connected on all nine of his extra-point attempts.
Winner: The Offensive Line
After letting their quarterback get sacked eight times a week ago, the offensive line was able to go the whole game without giving up a sack. Yes, some of that is due to Driskel looking more confident and comfortable in the pocket, but you have to give credit where credit is due.
The Gators were also able to wear the Tennessee defense down and finished the game with 336 rushing yards. That's a number any offensive line can hang its hat on.
Loser: Xavier Nixon
You expect more from a senior and a four-year starter on the offensive line.
Xavier Nixon was called for two 15-yard penalties and got an earful from his head coach on national television.
Nixon was penalized when he took his helmet off to argue a call with a referee. You don't do that, and Nixon should know better.
Winner: 2nd-Half Defense
The Gators defense has been stingy in the second half of games. On the year, they have given up just 13 points in the second half.
The Gators defense gave up a touchdown on Tennessee's first drive of the second half and then didn't let the Vols put points on the scoreboard the rest of the game.
The coaching staff has been doing a great job of making adjustments at halftime, and the players have been executing that gameplan to a tee.
Winner: Mike Gillislee
Mike Gillislee continues to live up to the hype that surrounded him in the preseason.
Gillislee carried the ball 18 times for 115 yards against the Vols and has now rushed for 346 yards on the season. Gillislee is the leading rusher in the SEC, and if he can stay healthy, there isn't anything that can slow him down.
Loser: Fake Punt Calls
The Gators were able to pull off a fake punt against Texas A&M, but the Vols were ready for it.
Florida actually attempted to fake two punts, but Will Muschamp called a timeout before Trey Burton was stuffed short of the first down. The Gators attempted another fake punt that was snuffed out by Tennessee and gave the Vols great field possession.
I get that it worked against Texas A&M, but it's not a play that should be used on a weekly basis.
Winner: Trey Burton
Trey Burton has found a place in the Gators offense despite playing for a different offensive coordinator each of his first three seasons.
Burton exploded on Saturday night with 129 total yards and two touchdowns. Included in those 129 yards were Florida's first touchdown of the night and a momentum swinging 80-yard touchdown run from the wildcat.
Burton's versatility has been a good way for Pease to mix up the looks his offense can give a defense and is a player that must be accounted for whenever he is on the field.
Winner: Will Muschamp
Two coaches entered Neyland Stadium looking for their first win against a ranked opponent, and Will Muschamp was the coach who walked away with his first signature win as a head coach.
In the first half, the Gators couldn't get pressure on Tyler Bray, and the quarterback was able to take his time, set his feet and pick apart the Gators secondary.
Will Muschamp and Dan Quinn were able to make adjustments on defense, and the Gators were getting pressure with just four down linemen in the second half. The pressure got to Bray; he threw his second interception of the game and was rattled for most of the second half.
The ability of the coaching staff to make in game adjustments has been the difference in the Gators being 3-0 rather than 1-2 to start the season.
Loser: The Offensive Line in Short-Yardage Situations
The Gators once again struggled to run the ball in obvious running situations.
Some of the struggle came when the numbers were obviously stacked in the defense's favor, but some of the blame has to fall on the line.
When you line up and know that you only need one yard, you have to take a certain pride in being able to push your man off of the line of scrimmage and open a hole for the running back.
Winner: Jeff Driskel
I must sound like a broken record, but the point needs to be stressed: Jeff Driskel is growing up before your eyes.
The sophomore quarterback has come a long way from not knowing if he would be the starting quarterback at the start of the season. Even after being named the starter before the Texas A&M game, Driskel looked unsure of himself and was timid in the pocket.
Driskel had his best game by far against Tennessee. He was more than a game manager, he made plays to extend drives and score that were the difference in the game. His touchdown pass to Jordan Reed showed poise, a rocket arm and guts. In the face of two defenders, knowing he would be hit on the play, Driskel set his feet and put the ball in a spot where only Reed could catch the ball.
His throw while on the run to Solomon Patton along the sideline was probably the best throw he has made in his short career.
His scrambling ability may have won him the job, but Driskel is showing you he is more than just a scrambling quarterback.
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