No one said it was going to be easy, but boy, has it been fun. For the third consecutive week, the Florida Gators (3-0, 2-0 SEC) made the necessary halftime adjustments to come from behind and pull away from their opponent. This time, it was the 23rd ranked Tennessee Volunteers (2-1, 0-1 SEC) as Florida beats the Vols 37-20.
The stunning second half was lead by a bevy of big plays, including a ground attack from senior running back Mike Gillislee and junior jack of all trades Trey Burton. Gillislee, who had struggled to get anything going in the first two quarters finished with 115 yards on 18 totes following big play runs of 45 and 33 yards in the second half. Burton meanwhile, knotted things up at 20-20 with an 80 yard dash in the third quarter that swung all the momentum toward Florida. A failed fake punt at midfield by the Gators looked ominous in the third, but the defense forced a three and out and on their first offensive play, Burton took the ball and outraced everyone to the endzone. Gator head coach Will Muschamp thought Burton’s run shifted all the momentum toward his team.
Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel, maligned after taking eight sacks against Texas A&M, was again incredibly efficient, throwing for 219 yards and two touchdowns on 14 for 20 passing. He was helped by another huge play from senior receiver Frankie Hammond, who caught his only ball of the game on a short curl and ended up taking it 75 yards down the field for a touchdown. Junior Jordan Reed continued to assert himself as the go to guy on offense, catching 5 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown in the corner of the endzone on an impressive throw from Driskel. But it wasn’t just the offense, as the defense played a huge part in the second half shutdown. Though he wasn’t sacked often, Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray was hurried for most of the night and threw two interceptions that helped the Gators flip field position. Driskel was impressed by the team’s resolve and adjustment after the half.
After the game, Muschamp was quick to remark that they aren’t where they’d like to be yet, but with each passing week, this looks like a team continuing to improve. The Gators now look ahead to next weekend’s matchup with Kentucky, set for a 12:21pm kickoff.