Rivalry win important to Muschamp

Saturday's win over Florida State will make the offseason more enjoyed for Florida head coach Will Muschamp. The loss to the Seminoles, along with the five others last season, were a big reason why last offseason drug by at slow as possible. It was even more important because it was Muschamp's first win in four tries over Florida State or Georgia as the Gators now prepare for a BCS bowl.

"Beating your rivals is very important," Will Muschamp said. "Beating your in-state rivals is critical because you have to live with it for a year. These Gators Clubs are going to be a lot more fun this year, I'll tell you that. It's critical to win in your state and win in your backyard. It helps creates a lot of momentum in a lot of areas in your program and a positive light for your program in where you're heading and what you're doing.

"I look at it more from a standpoint of last time over there in Tallahassee we lost 31-7, and it could have been worse. So we've made strides, we're getting it back to where it needs to be."

The Florida offense recorded 10 explosive plays, defined by the Florida staff as a 12-yard rush or a 15-yard pass, while the Florida State offense recorded six of them. The key statistic of the game was turnovers, as the Gators gave the ball up just once compared to five by Florida State.

The ground game is what keyed the Florida offense, but Muschamp's stats were different than the box score. The postgame stats showed Florida rushing for 244 yards, but with sacks and negative trick plays taken out, the Gators totaled 290 yards on the ground and an average of 6.7 yards per carry.

"I thought offensively, we ran the ball extremely well. They were the No. 1-ranked running defense coming into the game."

The Florida coaching staff gave the offensive player of the game award to the entire offensive line, running back and tight end units for the success on the ground. The Gators were more physical from the start of the game and dominated both lines of scrimmage.

"When you're effective running the ball against an elite defense, which they are, you've got to credit those guys," Muschamp said.

The Florida defense forced five turnovers, ending the regular season at +17 in turnovers for fifth best in the country in turnover margin. Last season, the Gators finished 113th in the country.

"If you really want to look at a stat where we're different as a team, that's huge," Muschamp said. "That's the telltale for our entire season."

Matt Elam, Antonio Morrison and Loucheiz Purifoy were named the defensive players of the game.

The Florida defense forced the Seminoles to be one-dimensional after shutting down the running game. Muschamp and the Florida staff counted 14 quarterback pressures, 12 quarterback hits and two sacks on Saturday.

"When you're able to do that against a team that wants to put the game on the quarterback, you're going to win a bunch of games," Muschamp said.

INJURY REPORT: Linebacker Jelani Jenkins had surgery to correct a small broken bone in his foot Monday morning and will "probably" miss the bowl game, but it's "not totally certain." The expected recovery time is four-to-six weeks. Linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) will return for the bowl game.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel (ankle) is still sore and wearing a boot. Center Jonotthan Harrison (ankle) will be fine. Defensive tackle Leon Orr (kidney infection) is expected to resume physical activities this week.

SABAN SHOT: Alabama head coach Nick Saban said on Sunday that he wasn't sure Florida deserved to be in a BCS bowl game while the loser of the SEC title game won't be. Muschamp was asked about the comments of his former boss and offered a quick solution.

"I can switch and go to Atlanta if he doesn't want to go to Atlanta," Muschamp said. "Be careful what you ask for, Nick."

Fightin Gators Top Stories