Florida Football: Winners and Losers from the Week 13 Game vs. Florida State
The Florida Gators mustered up as much of an offense as they had all season and beat the rival Florida State Seminoles, 37-26.
The offensive output was something we had not seen from the Gators all season long and was certainly unexpected given how FSU's defense had played in 2012. Florida was able to rush for 244 yards, more than 100 more yards than any other team had been able to gain on the ground against the Noles.
The win moves Florida to 11-1 on the season and almost assuredly will send Florida to Louisiana for the Sugar Bowl. If I would have wrote and predicted before the season that Florida would be playing in a BCS bowl, most of you would have thought I was crazy. But that is what makes sports so special. You can do as much homework as humanly possible, but truly anything can happen on any given Saturday.
Florida has been a team that you just can't figure out this season, and they give you a new set of problems and solutions week in and week out. Let's take a look at how the Gators played this week, what went right and what didn't.
Winner: Matt Jones
The Olympics ended months ago, but a torch was passed on Saturday night. Mike Gillislee has been a vital component of the offense this season, but Matt Jones showed Gator fans that the future at running back is bright.
Jones finished the game with eight carries for 81 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown run that capped the scoring for Florida and essentially ended the game.
Jones is exactly what Will Muschamp is looking for in a running back: a physical, one-cut back who isn't afraid of contact and doesn't dance around in the backfield.
Florida will miss Gillislee when he's gone, but Jones will make the transition quick and painless.
Winner: Jeff Driskel
Talk about a comeback performance.
It was just two weeks ago that Jeff Driskel walked out of the locker room with a walking boot, his status moving forward uncertain.
After missing just one game following a sprained ankle, Driskel returned and led Florida's offense to their most impressive performance of the season. The Gators were able to move the ball at will against the nation's No. 1 defense, and Driskel was able to complete 15 of 23 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown.
Going from questionable a week ago to the kind of game Driskel had against Florida State definitely earns him a spot on the right side of the list.
As I was live blogging the game on Saturday, the comments section started filling up with people complaining about the referees. At one point in the game, Florida was penalized 10 times while Florida State had yet to be hit with a flag.
While there were some holding penalties on Florida State that the referees missed, Florida deserved all of the penalties that were called against them (except a pass interference on Marcus Roberson that should have been offensive PI).
In total, Florida was penalized 12 times for 101 yards. That includes eight penalties for 70 yards in the third quarter alone. It is a minor miracle that Florida was able to win as convincingly as they did while shooting themselves in the foot all game long.
Will Muschamp and the coaching staff have preached discipline all season, but Florida continues to struggle in that area.
Winner: Will Muschamp
Sure, Florida has had some issues with penalties this season, but if anyone tells you that Will Muschamp hasn't done an incredible job this season, they haven't been watching this team.
A year ago today, the Gators were a 6-6 football team, barely bowl eligible and people were already calling for Muschamp's job.
In just one season, Muschamp has turned this program around, and if not for six turnovers against Georgia or Pitt's kicker shanking field goals against Notre Dame, Florida could be playing for a crystal ball in Miami.
The transformation from 2011 to now has been unexpected and nothing short of amazing.
Winner: Mike Gillislee
He ended a five-game streak of not reaching 100 rushing yards in a game last week and followed that performance up with one of his best games in orange and blue.
Mike Gillislee rushed 24 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns against a rush defense that was giving up just over 70 yards a game coming in.
The 140 yards put Gillislee at 1,104 on the season. Gillislee is the first player to run for over 1,000 yards in a season for the Gators since Ciatrick Fason in 2004.
Loser: Punt and Kick Coverage
Kyle Christy and Caleb Sturgis have been so solid on special teams this season that you almost forgot how good Florida had been on kick and punt coverage.
Florida allowed season highs in punt return yards (66) and kick return yards (112) to the Seminoles, and it was a 35-yard punt return that set up a FSU touchdown.
Winner: The Defense
They played fast, mean and with a purpose.
Florida's defense created four turnovers on the day and that made all the difference (FSU had five total; one came from special teams).
Matt Elam set the tone early with an interception on FSU's first drive, and it was a play from Antonio Morrison that changed the complexion of the game. Morrison, who was filling in for an injured Jelani Jenkins, met EJ Manuel and hit him so violently that Manuel fumbled the ball and had to be helped off the field.
Morrison has been impressive all season, but this is the highlight of the year for the freshman.
Loser: Trick Plays
Give Brent Pease credit; he pulled out all the stops against the Seminoles, but the Gators failed miserably when trying to go with a little trickery.
First, there was a fourth-down play where Trey Burton lines up in an odd formation. It is a formation that Florida has shown all season but normally audible out of and elect to kick the field goal. Burton saw that the numbers were in Florida's favor, motioned Matt Jones over, faked the handoff but was forced to throw off of his back foot and threw the ball about five yards short of his brother on a play that could have gone for a touchdown.
The second play came when Burton was again taking a snap out of the Wildcat. This time, and for the first time this season, Florida attempted a double reverse pass with Jeff Driskel. Creative, yes, but the play resulted in a loss of 16 yards as Driskel didn't have time to find a receiver down the field.
Give credit to Pease for getting creative; the execution just wasn't there.
Winner: The Florida Gators
The Florida Gators are 11-1.
Let that sink in.
Just a year after almost missing out on the bowl season altogether, Florida is ranked No. 4 in the BCS and will be playing in a BCS bowl game come January.
I'd say that's enough reason to be named on the right side of this list.