Florida Football: Winners and Losers from the Week 8 Win vs. South Carolina
It wasn't pretty, but Florida was able to come away with their seventh win of the season and remain undefeated. Despite only managing to gain 183 yards of offense, the Gators scored more points than they had all season thanks to their defense and an opportunistic offense.
The win was Muschamp's first against Steve Spurrier and stopped a two-game winning streak South Carolina held over the Gators.
Before we look ahead to a big weekend in Jacksonville, let's take a look at the winners and losers from the Week 8 win against South Carolina.
Loser: Mike Gillislee
This may be nitpicking a little bit, but it was Mike Gillislee's worst statistical game of the year.
Gillislee carried the ball 19 times for 37 yards and didn't find the end zone for the second straight week. His 1.95 ypc is also the lowest total for him this season.
This is the second week in a row that the opposing defense has keyed in on Gillislee and been able to take him out of the game.
Winner: Kyle Christy
Kyle Christy is making his case for the Ray Guy Award in a big way.
Christy punted the ball seven times on Saturday, and each went over 50 yards. Christy had a long of 62, which drastically changed the field position after Florida's second possession and averaged 54.3 yards per punt.
If you don't think that punting can make a difference, take a look at South Carolina's punter Tyler Hull. Hull averaged just under 40 yards per punt, and Florida was able to take advantage of some favorable field position after short punts.
He may not play the most glamorous position on the field, but Christy has made a big difference for Florida this season.
Winner: Jordan Reed
Jordan Reed continues to be Jeff Driskel's favorite target.
Reed caught four passes for 44 yards and two scores against South Carolina. His size and athletic ability gives Florida a mismatch on almost every offensive play.
Other than his two interceptions, Reed's biggest play might have come when he was able to field an onside kick and almost return it for a touchdown. If not for Ace Sanders, Reed would have scored his third touchdown on the day.
Loser: Earl Okine
Earl Okine had one lapse in judgement that makes him come up on the wrong side of this list.
After a blocked field-goal attempt, Okine went and picked up the ball on the Florida 10-yard line. If Okine would have left the ball alone, Florida would have started their drive on the 38 rather than the 10-yard line—not to mention that he picked up the ball and almost had it stripped by the long snapper.
It was not the redshirt senior's shining moment.
Winner: Jeff Driskel
A week after breaking a record previously held by Tim Tebow, Jeff Driskel found himself breaking another record. This one, however, was a little less conventional.
Driskel became the first player sine 1996 to throw for at least four touchdowns and less than 100 yards in a game. Driskel finished with four touchdowns on just 93 yards passing.
Driskel and the offense struggled to move the ball on offense but were able to capitalize on four South Carolina turnovers.
The four touchdown passes also matched Driskel's season total.
Winner: Loucheiz Purifoy
Loucheiz Purifoy has been playing some great football this month.
Purifoy got the game started by sacking Connor Shaw and forcing a fumble on the very first play of the game. Purifoy came on a corner blitz and was untouched on his way to the sack.
Later in the game, Purifoy was able to force another fumble on a kick return. Purifoy has been great in punt and kick coverage all season, and Saturday was his best performance of his career.
Loser: Xavier Nixon
Nixon drew the short straw this week and was responsible for stopping Jadeveon Clowney.
He struggled, like most offensive linemen have and will continue to do against Clowney.
Clowney was disruptive for most of the game. Even when he wasn't able to get to the quarterback, he was drawing so much attention that it opened up opportunities for his teammates.
It may be unfair to have Nixon on this list based on how good his opponent was, but he could have played better.
Winner: Sharrif Floyd
Sharrif Floyd finished the game with four tackles, including one for a loss. Those numbers are alright, but they're not the reason Floyd makes this list.
Floyd was able to get penetration and block a field-goal attempt in the second quarter. The block brought back memories of Jarvis Moss saving the Gators' season in 2006 with a block against South Carolina.
Big special team plays like that are huge momentum changers, and Floyd is starting to make a habit of coming up big when the Gators need him to.
Winner: Will Muschamp
In just seven weeks, Will Muschamp has won as many games as he did in 2011.
The head coach continues to be animated on the sideline, and his fiery demeanor seems to rub off on his team, especially the defense.
Beating South Carolina and another top-10 opponent is one thing, but beating the head coach who you will always be compared to has to be a good feeling.
Muschamp not only prepared his team well for the game, he is keeping them from getting a big head now that Florida is getting national attention. Keeping the team humble and hungry will be key for the Gators moving forward.
In what is becoming a trend, the Gators continued to struggle with penalties.
Florida committed seven penalties for 74 yards, including three 15-yard penalties in the first half alone. Florida penalties led to the first six South Carolina points and kept the Gators out of the end zone on a beautiful pass and catch from Driskel to Omarius Hines.
So far, Florida has been able to survive through their penalties this season, but if they don't become more disciplined, it will catch up with them and could end up costing them a game.
Winner: The Defense
Florida's defense has been impressive.
The defense hasn't allowed a touchdown in the Swamp since Bowling Green scored on a 12-yard touchdown run in the third quarter of the very first game.
Florida was able to force four turnovers, hold South Carolina to just 191 yards of offense and broke up eight passes.
The defense is playing at a high level and are one of, if not, the best defenses in the country.