Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Midseason report: Florida
By Edward Aschoff
Record: 6-0 (5-0 SEC)
The Gators are 6-0 for the first time since 2009 and hold the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings. Will Muschamp finally has the blue collar team he's wanted since he arrived last year. Muschamp ended the 2011 regular season by calling his team soft. He hasn’t had a reason to say that this year, as the Gators have been the nation’s best second-half team. Florida has rallied to win three SEC games (two on the road) after trailing at halftime. The Gators have outscored opponents 98-23 in the second half and have allowed just 10 fourth-quarter points.
Florida hasn’t thrown the ball well consistently, but it has toppled opponents with its running game and defense. The Gators can use a handful of rushers, starting with Mike Gillislee, who has jumped out of the shadow of being a backup for three years to lead all SEC running backs in rushing yards. Quarterback Jeff Driskel hasn’t had to throw much, but he’s a big play waiting to happen when he takes off with the ball.
Defensively, this unit has been excellent, ranking fifth nationally in scoring (12.3) and 13th in total defense (297.2), and it absolutely shut down LSU’s exceptional running game, holding the Tigers to just 42 rushing yards. Florida has shown it can out-muscle opponents, and that tactic will persist, as it continues its SEC East run.
Offensive MVP: Gillislee: After sitting and watch for the better part of his first three years at Florida, Gillislee was the SEC's best running back in the first half of the season. He’s pounded away at defenses with 615 yards and seven touchdowns on 120 carries and is the difference maker on Florida’s offense. The Gators aren’t unbeaten without him.
Defensive MVP: S Matt Elam: He just flies around the field to make plays. He can drop back or sprint into the box to bother running backs and quarterbacks. He can change a game with a single play, like he did with that timely fumble force against LSU. He also has 33 tackles, including three for loss and a sack, and an interception.