Gators Built to Possess the Ball

Time of possession isn't a stat that Florida head coach Will Muschamp spends time stressing over, but if the offense is working the way he wants it to, the Gators should dominate the ball throughout the game. Through four games this season, Florida has won the time of possession battle every time because of a run game that has carried the team.

"Running the ball and being able to run the ball and create positive first-and-10 situations," Will Muschamp said about the key to his team's offense possessing the ball.

The Gators had the ball for 37:41 against Kentucky on Saturday. It was the longest they've possessed the ball for any game this season. During the four games this season, the Gators have had the ball for 58% of the time.

The success in time of possession also has given the defense time to breathe on the sideline. No matter how good the defense was in 2011, the offense couldn't keep the ball and was constantly struggling with three-and-outs, throwing the defense back on the field without being able to catch its breath.

This season has been the opposite.

That was no more obvious than when Florida put together a 15-play, 72-yard drive in the third quarter that took 9:03 off the clock. There were seven throws and eight rushes on the drive that showed off how balanced the Florida offense can be while keeping the defense on the sideline.

"I think running the ball, eating chunks off the clock and the effectiveness of that, then that creates opportunities down the field," Muschamp said. "You end up tiring pass rushers for third down. It's all a domino effect as the game goes when you're able to run the ball."

Muschamp noted that the coaching staff has studied first down plays that the team has run, and they usually have success. The goal is to pick up at least three yards for a positive play, and the Gators have been successful with it so far this year. The only thing that has slowed the team is when penalties happen that set them behind the chains.

With the score in Florida's favor throughout the game on Saturday, Muschamp didn't want to air it out and stretch the field. He wanted the team to keep the ball and continue working on the run game that will be important to the future of the season.

"We could have done a lot of different things offensively, but we had the game in hand," Muschamp said. "I'm not a big stat guy at the end to go pad all of our stats like a lot of guys are." ?

INJURY REPORT: Offensive tackle Chaz Green (ankle), defensive lineman Dominique Easley (knee), Trey Burton (back) and Jordan Reed (head) are all expected to play against LSU on October 6.

Linebacker Jelani Jenkins (thumb) will meet with a doctor this week to get a better idea, but his status for the game against the Tigers is uncertain. Muschamp mentioned last week that he could possibly play with a cast on his hand.

Offensive tackle Matt Patchan (pec) will "probably not" be available against LSU. He will go through drills in practice next week, and the Gators are hoping to get him back against Vanderbilt on October 13. Muschamp had no doubt that Patchan will play this year.

REVIEWING KENTUCKY: The Gators had seven explosive plays on offense Saturday while only allowing one on defense. Muschamp was also pleased with the Florida secondary, especially the interception returned for a touchdown by Jaylen Watkins.

"Any time you're able to shut somebody out in this day and age of football, it's great," Muschamp said.

He was pleased with the coverage units on special teams and continued to compliment the kicking of Caleb Strugis and punting of Kyle Christy, who continues to be an impact player for the Gators.

"He needs to continue to progress forward but that's been a huge weapon for us as far as flipping the field and the job he has done," Muschamp said of Christy, who was the special teams player of the week.

Muschamp named James Wilson the offensive player of the game, while Kyle Koehne and Jon Halapio were named the Scrap Iron Award winners, given to the best offensive linemen.

Watkins and Omar Hunter split the defensive player of the game honors while Hunter was also named SEC defensive lineman of the week.

Scout team players of the week were Jeremi Powell, AJ Mobley and Alex McCallister, who Muschamp said has gone from 204 pounds when he got to campus to his current weight of 230 pounds.

PERIMETER RUN DEFENSE A FOCUS: If there was an area where the Florida defense struggled on Saturday, it was controlling some of the Kentucky runs to the outside. Scheme wasn't always the issue. Part of it was simply discipline and desire to go make the tackle.

"A lot of times it's want-to," Muschamp said. "That 230-pound back is running at one of our corners. We've got one that's real excited to go tackle—Loucheiz Purifoy— and the rest of them have to get more excited about tackling. Want-to is something. You have to want to tackle."

Every defense that the coaching staff can call has one primary player that is responsible for the edge on a run play, usually a linebacker or member of the secondary. If that breaks down, there's always one member of the secondary who is responsible for cleaning it up.

"We haven't done a good job coaching it, and that's my job," Muschamp said. "Those are things we're going to get corrected as we move forward Tuesday, as far as understanding when the primary run enforce player is blocked, the other guy has to do a better job of replacing him or the primary run enforce player just needs to get himself in position."


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