NCF Nation: Kevyn Cooper
November, 17, 2012
By Michael DiRocco | ESPN.com
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Sixth-ranked Florida finished the season unbeaten at Florida Field with a harder-than-it-should-have-been victory over Football Championship Subdivision foe Jacksonville State. The Gators led only 10-0 at halftime before pulling away and winning 23-0, thanks to a defensive score.
It was over when: Linebacker Jon Bostic intercepted Marques Ivory's pass and returned it 7 yards for a touchdown and a 17-0 lead early in the third quarter.
Gameball goes to: Running back Mike Gillislee, who had his best game in more than a month. Gillislee ran for 122 yards and one touchdown. It's the first time he had gained more than 100 yards and the first time he had scored a touchdown since he ran for 146 yards and two touchdowns against LSU.
Stat of the game: Florida's 23 points were the second-fewest Jacksonville State has allowed this season. Southeast Missouri scored 16. Tennessee-Martin scored 49 against the Gamecocks two weeks ago.
Unsung hero of the game: Florida's punt returners have struggled fielding punts all season. The biggest issue has been letting them bounce instead of coming up to field them, resulting in a lot of lost yardage. But Cornerback Marcus Roberson did a good job of fair-catching three punts in traffic. He also had a 31-yard return.
Best call: Jacksonville State called a reverse pass that went for a first down and jump-started what should have been a scoring drive (kicker Griffin Thomas missed from 36 yards). Ivory handed the ball to receiver Alan Bonner, who hit receiver Trey Smith for a 20-yard gain.
Second guessing: Jacksonville State stunned the crowd with a 76-yard gain on the first offensive snap -- receiver Kevyn Cooper stayed on his feet after being hit and took off down the sideline -- and had a first-and-goal at the UF 7-yard line. Three plays later they were at the 8, and coach Jack Crowe opted to kick a field goal. Why not try for the TD, especially when you have a kicker who entered the game 9-for-16? You've got nothing to lose when you're playing in a game like this.
Second guessing II: The Gators like to use the wildcat formation with Trey Burton taking the snap. That means quarterback Jacoby Brissett has to line up wide, which normally just takes him out of the play. However, the Gators ran a jet sweep toward Brissett's side, which meant Brissett had to block a cornerback. It's a surprising move because quarterbacks usually don't block well and it also exposes him to a greater chance of injury. Considering starting quarterback Jeff Driskel is already out with a sprained ankle, why take the risk?