Florida follows familiar road to victory

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The same plan that brought Florida to Nashville with an undefeated record was the one the Gators used to leave the same way. Florida ran the ball 35 times while throwing it just 20. The game plan will see some tweaks against the elite defenses of the Southeastern Conference, but in a league road game, Florida coach Will Muschamp didn't want to change things up.

"The large part of it is go with what's getting you yardage and what your guys are doing," Will Muschamp said after Florida's 31-17 win. "We're moving people well. They were feast or famine up front, defensively. When you stunt and do as much as they do, you're eventually going to hit them on some things.

"At the end of the day, we're going to do what it takes to continue to win games."

The difference in Saturday's win from last week's win over LSU is that it wasn't just Mike Gillislee carrying the ball. After running the ball 34 times against the Tigers, the senior running back carried the ball 17 times on Saturday for 67 yards, adding two catches for 12 yards.

Gillislee was involved. He just wasn't the feature.

That went to quarterback Jeff Driskel. The sophomore set the school record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 181 yards on 11 carries, including three for touchdowns. Tim Tebow held the top three on the list before Saturday's game.

The Gators knew what they would be seeing from the Vanderbilt defense. It's an aggressive unit that uses stunts to try to confuse the offense. Sometimes, it works. Other times, they get burned.

"When you move and pressure as much as (Vanderbilt defense coordinator Bob Shoop) feels like he needs to—and I don't disagree with what he's doing—you're going to create some opportunities for yourself. It's feast or famine," Muschamp said. "You may hit us some, but you're going to give up some things.

"When you give up some things with good athletes that can run and get in the open field like we've got some guys who can do, that's kind of what happens."

The stats were impressive, but Driskel did the little things on Saturday to help the win. He ran the offense and made the correct decisions on read plays for big games. He only went 11-20 through the air for 77 yards.

Muschamp has always been vocal about wanting leadership from the quarterback position. Driskel showed that in early season road wins at Texas A&M and Tennessee. He did it again when thinks weren't clicking ideally, but putting the team on his shoulders and make the plays with his feet.

"He's a cool customer," Muschamp said. "He doesn't get rattled by much. He understands what he needs to do to lead our football team and our offense. We're very pleased and proud of his response. There's a lot of pressure being the quarterback at the University of Florida. I don't think people realize that. This young man has handled it well."

As the ground game continues to pound the ball and get wins, there's still an expectation that a game will come when the Gators need to air the ball out. Whenever that happens, Muschamp is confident in what will happen. The passing game has looked better each week in practice, but it hasn't shown in practice because it wasn't needed.

"We feel much more comfortable than what you're seeing on game day with our passing game, to be honest with you," Muschamp said. "We feel like there are some things there—a couple drops and opportunities to convert. We feel like we're further along than maybe we've seen on Saturday."

INJURY REPORT: James Wilson (eye) didn't travel with the team after an injury during Wednesday's practice. Dominique Easley (swelling on the knee) was also held out. Jelani Jenkins (hamstring) went through warm ups before the game but "didn't feel good."

Easley, Jenkins and Wilson are all expected to play next weekend against South Carolina.

Muschamp said offensive tackle Xavier Nixon suffered an "upper body" injury, while center Jonotthan Harrison had an arm injury. Both came out in the first half and didn't return. Latroy Pittman and Kent Taylor both had ankle injuries. Muschamp wasn't certain about any of their statuses for next week.

"We need to continue to press forward, but at the end of the day, it's Florida," he said. "There are no excuses."

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