Pease notebook: Dillman deserved thanks

After the celebration died down on Saturday night in Gainesville, Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease grabbed his phone. He sent a "thank you" text to first-year Florida strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman for the obvious difference in the team. While the Gators were pounding the ball on the ground during the last 25 plays of the game, Pease knew who deserved the credit.

"He's a very positive guy," Brent Pease said. "He believes in his staff around him. When I look down there and (LSU has) their hands on their hips, and our guys are still rearing to go, that's a product of what they've done from the summer on.

"He believes in what he's doing with the conditioning, the core stability, the strength and the lifts that they're doing. I really felt, and I believe, that our guys got stronger as it went along."

It was evident at the end of the game. The Florida rushing attack was slowed in the first half, but in the second half, the offensive line manhandled a group that is viewed as one of the best in the country. The added coaching from Florida offensive line coach Tim Davis has improved it, but Dillman's added strength was a key factor in the second half.

Running back Mike Gillislee was a big part of it, holding up while carrying the ball 34 times. However, the improved strength and stamina from the offensive line came from Dillman.

"He probably was the most pumped up person on the sideline," Florida cornerback Jaylen Watkins said. "You'd think he was going in and out of the game."

The preparation started in the offseason in the weight room. The Olympic style weight training changed the strength and the mental mindset of the team.

"It's the different lifts we do and our mentality as football players," Watkins said. "He coached us to be more physical in everything we do. It's always about physicality."

The intensity doesn't stay in the weight room. Dillman is hard to miss on the sideline during games—waving his arms around, clapping his hands and keeping the players in the game.

Before the game, he's the coach in the locker room yelling at the players.

"Keep punching them in the mouth," Watkins remembered Dillman yelling in the locker room. "Swing first and swing last, and we'll come out on top."

DOWNFIELD PASSING GAME: Jeff Driskel went 8-for-12 for 61 yards against LSU, but the focal point of the offense changed in the second half. The Florida coaching staff liked what they saw from the Tigers' defense, so they continued to pound the ball on the ground.

"The other day, some things had to give," Pease said. "That was probably the thing that had to give during halftime. We still could've done some things, but our guys got in a groove up front. The guys that have been most consistent is the o-line. You know what you're going to get from them. They were productive and consistent. They did a great job."

If an opponent can take away the run and force Driskel to throw, the coaches are confident in the downfield passing game. The Gators didn't create many plays in the passing game, but Pease thinks the throwing game improved over the bye week.

"I think it's gotten better," Pease said. "It's always in our game plan. We did some good things.

Vanderbilt DEFENSE: The Commodores are seventh in the conference in total defense, allowing 341.4 yards per game this season. The unit is 11th in rush defense and third in pass defense. They'll bring pressure and try to confuse the Florida offense on Saturday.

"They've got some kids that are moving around," Pease said. "The kids play hard. They just don't sit there. They've always got some moving parts to it because of being a zone pressure team. There's a lot of rotation by the secondary, a lot of disguise by blitzes, a lot of hitting different gaps, so it kind of goes back to what we saw in the first game against Bowling Green. There's some movement and things and we've got to be able to handle all that.

"They've got some kids that have some really good speed."

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