- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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A big part of Florida’s success in the fourth quarter this season can be traced to an old-school approach in the strength and conditioning program.
The No. 4 Gators, who travel to Vanderbilt on Saturday, have given up just 13 second-half points in five games and haven’t allowed any points in the fourth quarter. That’s after being outscored 72-22 last season in the fourth quarter against SEC foes.
Coach Will Muschamp said first-year strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman and his staff deserve a lot of credit for the way the Gators have played in the fourth quarter.
“As much as anything, when we went back to some of the old-core lifting, some of the things I was accustomed to, the transformation in their bodies began to build confidence in what they were doing,” Muschamp said. “They saw themselves getting stronger and understood that they were a more physical team and saw themselves improving as football players.
“Like anything else, when you invest in something and start realizing that it’s working for you, it motivates you to do it more.”
When Muschamp hired Dillman, there were no gray areas in terms of what Muschamp was looking for in a strength program.
“I was at LSU with Tommy Moffitt and saw the success we had doing the core lifts like squats and power clean and the development of those players in those programs,” Muschamp said. “Look at the success Scott Cochran has had at Alabama, and when Jeff and I talked, I said, ‘We’re going back to what we know and what I know,’ and that’s what we did with Tommy.”
Muschamp also pointed out that this team is a year older than a year ago, which has no doubt factored into the Gators’ second-half success. They’ve outscored opponents 78-13 after the break.
“We’re more mature and able to handle some circumstances much better and able to handle adversity much better, which again is a credit to Jeff and his staff because they’re with them a lot more than we are,” Muschamp said. “We inherited a very young, talented team last year that had a hard time handling those situations.”
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