Meyer All Smiles After Win in Nashville

It all looks to be coming together at the right time for the Gators. It's gone so well for the team in the past two weeks that head coach Urban Meyer has a hard time thinking about it without smiling. Florida continued to roll and blew Vanderbilt out 55-14 on Saturday in a game that felt over early in the second quarter.

"I'm very excited with the way our guys played the last two games with energy as a team," Urban Meyer said. "It's not how you start, it's how you finish, and we're finishing strong."

The offense put 480 yards of offense on the Commodores one week after going for 450 yards against Georgia. The up-tempo offense looks to be the solution to early season struggles.

However, the offense wasn't the only part of the team that got going Saturday. The Florida defense allowed only seven points on a touchdown that came with 0:39 left in the fourth quarter. Special teams were also involved to set the offense up with easy scores.

"It's players playing hard and punt blocks and big hits on defense," Meyer said. "Then hit some big plays on offense. That's kind of always been the formula around here. More than that, I just like the chemistry around our team right now. The way they hang out around each other at the hotel, you just see it gelling."

The punt block helped the Gators for the first time in over a year. Chris Rainey blocked two punts, tying the school record with four during his career, and one was returned for a touchdown by freshman Solomon Patton. The other punt block set the Florida offense up for a three-yard touchdown run by Mike Gillislee.

It was the first time Florida blocked a punt since October 24, 2009, at Mississippi State.

"You talk about a momentum shift," Meyer said. "Rainey is a unique, skilled athlete that can come off the edge that skinny like that. It's a great momentum change."

The offense started slow again, as they seemed to all season. When the defense held early in the game and the special teams jump-started the offense with points, the big plays came. Four of the five offensive touchdowns Florida scored came from at least 31 yards out.

"The last two weeks, we've had a few of them," Meyer said about the big plays. "We're a different team when you have those. When you have a threat on the outside, there's a threat on the inside."

Meyer didn't feels easy about the game until it was in hand. He was worried this game could sneak up on his team. The 44-degree temperatures and a kickoff time of 11:21 locally had him worried his team could overlook Vanderbilt.

"I was very concerned about that, the early morning start," Meyer said. "I'm turning into a Florida guy not liking that cold weather very much. I saw their faces at six in the morning, so I was worried about it. You've got to give credit where credit is due, to the leadership on this team. Those guys did a really nice job today."

LOOKING TO NEXT WEEK: With a 41-0 score at halftime, the Florida starters had a lot of time to themselves on the bench in the second half. The leadership of the team helped the group stay focused and begin to talk about what is at stake next week when South Carolina comes to town with the SEC East Championship on the line.

"We've learned some great lessons here in the past about a team getting ready to go play a big time game and about a team not being ready to play a big time game," Meyer said. "That was my whole message to them. I like that they're talking about next week's game, and it's real clear what the focus is."

The team celebrated in the locker room of Vanderbilt Stadium after the win. They encouraged each other and didn't want to take an SEC win for granted. When they left the locker room and headed to the team bus, their thoughts continued to be on the Gamecocks.

‘We're done," Meyer said about celebrating the win over Vanderbilt. "The coaches are already working as we speak on South Carolina. We're going to come in (Sunday) and work as hard as we can. This is what we work for. It's our whole deal. This is it.

"It's championship week in Gainesville, Florida."

REED MAKES AN IMPACT: The Florida coaches have dabbled with Jordan Reed's role in the Florida offense, but this week Meyer promised he would have a bigger role. Instead of only increasing his role, he had the biggest offensive impact on the team. He went 11-19 for 120 yards and one touchdown. He also ran the ball 16 times for 84 yards and one touchdown.

"He's a freak athlete," Meyer said. "I think we did it right, but how we're pushing him into this offense. You can see what a dynamic runner he is, and he's got a nice arm. We don't have a big runner, but he gives us that."

Meyer insisted after the game that Reed would continue to be tight end and the single wing quarterback. Trey Burton's role will also continue, and the team will find a way to utilize the three-quarterback system. The difficulty will come on the practice field as the Gators need to get enough reps for all of the players.

The coaches will use their plane trip back to Gainesville to start planning new wrinkles for the up-tempo offense. One focus will be on a quicker starter to the game, as the Gators went three-and-out on their first possession and only picked up one first down on their second drive.

"We started so darn slow again," Meyer said. They had a good plan. When Johnny was in, they blitzed. We've got to keep moving this thing (forward)."

INJURY REPORT: Jeff Demps was available to play, but Meyer "wanted to be smart." Demps didn't practice much during the week and experienced some pain. Meyer said they will knokw more about his status this week, but they "plan on him being ready." Emmanuel Moody and Mike Gillislee being at full strength also helped Demps rest.

Andre Debose was 90% against Vanderbilt and will be 100% next weekend.

Xavier Nixon left the game with a sprained knee, but Meyer described it as "very mild." He could have returned if the score was closer.

Mack Brown didn't see any action late in the game, and Meyer said it was because of a hamstring issue that has been bugging him, and they "didn't want to risk it." Brown hasn't received much playing time this year, but Meyer called his attitude "fantastic."

RAINEY CONTINUES TO EMERGE: Rainey had his second straight big statistical week since returning from suspension. He touched the ball seven times for 88 yards on offense and one touchdown, coming on a one-handed reception from John Brantley.

The change is evident on the field, but Meyer sees a difference in Rainey even more off it.

"He hit rock bottom," Meyer said. "He had one way to go, and it's good for him, even beyond football. He's doing much better in school. The thumb is on him real hard, so his whole work ethic has changed."

They are concerned he could have too much on his plate while also returning kickoffs. With Debose expected back next week, Meyer could decide to use him instead of Rainey. However, Janoris Jenkins didn't catch a punt that ended up hitting Jaylen Watkins for a fumble in the second quarter, so Meyer said they will evaluate the punt returner job as well.

EASLEY A QUESTION: Freshman Dominique Easley played last weekend against Georgia, but he wasn't on the travel roster this weekend.

"He did not travel with the team," Meyer said. "He's just not a part of the (travel) team right now."

Meyer was asked if the issue was disciplinary, but he said there are a "lot of reasons" that Easley didn't travel.
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