- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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Editor’s note: GatorNation is counting down the top five moments of Florida’s 2012 season this week. They could be plays, drives, quarters or decisions, but regardless of what they are, they are the significant moments that shaped the season.
We begin with No. 5: Adjustments
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- For 30 minutes, it looked like nothing had changed.
Florida wasn’t getting much done on offense, a mobile quarterback was shredding the defense, and the Gators were trailing. Everything that happened in the first half of the Texas A&M game on Sept. 8 looked a lot like what happened in 2011 -- and that wasn’t good at all.
Then Will Muschamp and the rest of the coaching staff got together at halftime, figured a few things out, and made some adjustments. Thirty minutes after that, the Gators had won the game. More importantly, Muschamp had won over his players -- and the fans, too.
“We did a better job in the second half of controlling the line of scrimmage,” Muschamp said after the 20-17 victory. “That was the difference. There’s no magic potion.”
It was really an uncomplicated fix. Aggies QB Johnny Manziel had 182 of Texas A&M’s 269 yards of total offense in the first half because UF’s rushers were getting out of their lanes and losing contain. Muschamp told them to stay in their gaps and play their assignments.
Simple, but extremely effective.
The Aggies managed just 65 yards of offense in the second half. Manziel ran for 19 yards and threw for 32. Texas A&M, after not punting in the first half, punted six times and went 0 for 6 on third down.
The defensive performance overshadowed what the Gators did in the fourth quarter on offense. UF outgained Texas A&M 104-37 and scored the go-ahead touchdown with 13:05 to play. The Gators then forced consecutive three-and-outs and gave up two first downs on the Aggies’ next possession before taking possession at their own 14 with 3:13 to play.
UF ran the ball eight consecutive times to run out the clock.
That gave the Gators their first victory in six tries when trailing at halftime in Muschamp’s tenure. It also removed any doubt that Muschamp can coach, which is something about which fans were wondering after a 7-6 record in 2011. Some players might have been wondering, too.
It was even more significant because it came on the road in Texas A&M’s first Southeastern Conference game. In addition to setting the tone for the rest of the season, it was the first indication that the Gators might be much better than people outside the program anticipated.