The senior running back leads the Southeastern Conference with 346 rushing yards after three weeks, averaging 115.3 yards per game. He is tied for second in the conference with four touchdowns on the ground.
The increased workload for Mike Gillislee came after the depth chart was cleaned out from the loss of Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey after the 2011 season. Gillislee went into the 2012 season as the only experienced running back on the team. He hasn't let go of the starting job.
He's set up for more success this fall. The running scheme in place last season was built to suit smaller, elusive running backs like Demps and Rainey. That changed in the offseason as coordinator Brent Pease switched to a downhill rushing attack to better suit Gillislee's style.
"We were a little differently equipped with our runners last year," Muschamp said. "Chris Rainey was a fabulous player here at UF, and so was Jeff Demps, and they're running styles were a little different than Mike's. We weren't as physical and tough, experienced, seasoned up front.
"We didn't block as well as we're blocking right now, and not taking anything away from Mike because he's running really well, but we're a little differently equipped in the running game than we were a year ago. What we're doing now suits Mike very well."
The lack of experience at key position for the Florida offense looked like it could be an issue as the Gators broke in a first-year quarterback and running back. Gillislee's progress has made the transition easy for Jeff Driskel. Opponents are geared to stop the running game, which also opens up throws down the field for the first-year starter under center.
"He's great back there," Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel said. "He can hit it from five, or he can hit an explosive play at any time. He's also really good in pass protection. On one of the first plays, or on our first pass play, we had a play action and he cut the guy down for me and gave me a good passing lane. He's good in both aspects."
Gillislee's work ethic forced the Florida coaching staff to try getting him carries during the 2011 season. They were prepared to get him the ball at Auburn, but early in the game, he hurt his hamstring and was limited for the rest of the season.
When he wasn't touching the ball in the backfield last season, Gillislee was finding other ways to help the team. He worked on the kickoff return and punt block units last season and earned the respect of the coaching staff.
"He's a guy that never complains. I wish he would talk to some of our freshmen (about special teams). We're trying to get them to understand that. He's a very unselfish player and works extremely hard. He's a great, great example for our younger players."
INJURY REPORT: Cornerback Cody Riggs (foot) and linebacker Jelani Jenkins (thumb) are both ruled out for this weekend's matchup with Kentucky. Offensive tackle Chaz Green (ankle) is probable to play after missing the game against Tennessee when he was a game-time decision.Defensive tackle Dominique Easley (knee) is day-to-day with some swelling. The coaches will continue to monitor his status.
TENNESSEE REVIEW: Driskel and Trey Burton were the co-offensive players of the game for Florida. Driskel was named the Offensive Player of the Week by the SEC early Monday after going 14-of-20 for 219 yards and two touchdowns through the air while adding 81 yards rushing.Burton scored two rushing touchdowns on three carries that went for 94 yards. He also caught two passes for 38 yards.
"Both guys played extremely well in the game," Muschamp said.
Lerentee McCray was named the defensive player of the game. The redshirt senior had one interception with a 25-yard return, two quarterback hurries and half of a tackle for a loss.
"Lerentee McCray played an outstanding game," Muschamp said. "He's got an outstanding motor; a guy that plays hard all the time. It was a big interception and then he caused an interception for Matt Elam later on in the game. He continues to play well for us, gives us a lot of good rush on the edge."
Punter Kyle Christy was named special teams player of the game while averaging 48.6 yards on five punts. Four of the punts went over 49 yards, including a 55-yarder on his first punt of the game from the Florida end zone.
"We flipped the field especially early, and Kyle Christy did an outstanding job and we covered extremely well, especially Loucheiz Purifoy at the gunner position was a guy that really covered a lot of ground," Muschamp said. "We flipped the field in punting situations, especially when we were backed up early, which is critical to them not to get momentum."
Scout teams players of the week were Jessamen Dunker (offense), Ben Peacock (defense) and Mark Herndon (special teams).
KOEHNE FILLING IN: Green's absence on the offensive line forced Kyle Koehne to start at right tackle after playing on the interior of the offensive line in 2011. The Florida coaches targeted Jacques Smith and Curt Maggitt as two players on the Tennessee defense that created issues, and Koehne played well when blocking both of them."He did a really nice job," Muschamp said. "I thought he did a really nice job of stepping in and playing. Kyle, again, ‘man down, man up', and he did a nice job for us and certainly played winning football."