- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- After a miserable 2011 season, Florida coach Will Muschamp wanted a team that wouldn't wilt in the second half, a team that was tough enough to finish games.
He's got one this season.
The No. 2 Gators (7-0, 6-0 SEC) are winning games because of what they're doing in the second half. The coaching staff's adjustments at halftime are resulting in better offensive production and tougher defense.
And the attitude that Muschamp wants.
"We like to think when we make our adjustment, now is time to pick it up," CB Jaylen Watkins said as UF prepared for Saturday's game against No. 10 Georgia (7-1, 4-1) in Jacksonville, Fla. "The second half is kind of the beginning of the game for us."
The Gators have played significantly better in the second half, which is illustrated by the following statistics provided by ESPN Stats & Information:
• Has scored 90 points in the first half and 121 in the second and allowed 59 points in the first half and 26 in the second. That's a scoring margin of plus-31 in the first half and plus-95 in the second.
• Been out-gained in the first half by 52 yards but has out-gained opponents by 531 yards in the second.
• Is averaging 3.7 yards per rush in the first half and 5.4 yards per rush in the second.
• Is averaging 6.2 yards per pass attempt in the first half and 8.7 yards per pass attempt in the second, despite throwing for 44 less yards in the second half.
The Gators have been fantastic defensively when trailing at halftime. In the three games in which they trailed at the break (Texas A&M, Tennessee and LSU), the Gators have allowed a combined six points, 304 yards and six plays of 10 or more yards in the second half.
Florida's second-half adjustments on defense aren't as complicated as you might think. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said the staff will talk among themselves during the first half and figure out what's not working and then present two or three main adjustments during the 20-minute halftime break.
"It really depends on the game and what the other club is doing that you have to adjust to," Quinn said. "Generally, in the first and second quarter we say, 'OK, let's change what we're doing,' and then at halftime it's generally more of a reinforcement. 'OK, these are the changes we made' or 'this is a play that was a problem and now we got to adjust to it. Let's make sure when this play shows up again this is how we're going to play to it.' "
Offensively, the Gators will often shrink the game plan based on what plays did and didn't work in the first half.
"We kind of zero in to what's been good to us," offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. "The things that we try to break down at halftime, we kind of condense things that have been good for us that we know are effective. And then just matching them [to the right situations] and the kids executing them and coming out with the right focus."
The result is that the players believe there's nothing they can't handle or overcome in the second half.
"We feel like we're battle-tested," LB Lerentee McCray said.
14hEthan Sherwood Strauss