The Florida offense made it clear from the beginning of the game that it was a different unit from the one that sputtered against lesser opponents during the previous weeks. Three of the first four drives for the Florida offense went for 54, 62 and 54 yards against a defense that came in ranked in the top five in a majority of defensive categories.
The Florida coaches expected it during a rivalry game when the Gators had more energy and focus. When the offense was clicking, it didn't surprise offensive coordinator Brent Pease.
"We came out aggressively," Pease said. "The guys made plays when they did. I think Jeff did a good job of making some throws he really had to make. We did a good job in third-down conversions, kept ourselves on the field. It goes back to sometimes it's not the kids, it's the football situation you're adjusting to.
"We did have a turnover, but we didn't have a lot of turnovers. We took good care of the ball. We were productive in the run game and kept ourselves on the field in third-down situations."
The win and 37 points the Gators put up against Florida State were enough to erase the memories of the down offensive games. The team was given a break from practice after the regular season ended, and once they returned to practice, the energy was still there. The win was still fresh on the group's mind.
The way the offense moved the ball up and down the field against the Seminoles for 399 yards has the unit expecting to do that in the Sugar Bowl and next season.
"It gives them a lot of confidence," Pease said. "It shows that they've hit a point where they are breaking through the consistency we kind of wanted to strive for."
The coaches expected the performance. The Gators saw on tape that they could run the ball against Florida State, despite the Seminoles being the top rush defense in the country before the game. The key was a difference in attack. Florida State hadn't seen many offenses centered on two-back runs in its conference. The film gave the Florida coaches confidence they could get a decent amount of yardage on the ground.
They were right. The Gators ran for 249 yards, led by 140 yards from running back Mike Gillislee. Taking out the negative yardage accounted for by Driskel being sacked, the Gators actually ran for 264 yards.
"It didn't really surprise me because our team has been like that all year," Pease said. "We kind of respond at a certain point in time. I think as coaches we have kind of developed the confidence, ‘OK, they're getting ready.' You can see the build-up process. We haven't been a fast-starting team, and that's what we've got to work to be better at and the kids understand what our liabilities are of what we want to do. I was proud of them that way."
NO BRISSETT UPDATE: Florida quarterback Jacoby Brissett stayed on the team and even earned a start when Jeff Driskel couldn't play against Jacksonville State. The question now turns to how much longer he will be in Gainesville. Pease hasn't spoken with Brissett about transferring since the regular season ended."I'm out there to coach him and whatever his future is he's done a good job," Pease said. "He's had good practices. Like I've said all year I support the kid either way because I think he's a special kid and has handled the situation well and done a good job when he had an opportunity to play. I'm sure that that might come up at the end of the season, and selfishly I hope it doesn't, but I support the kid either way."
Pease didn't shy away from saying he wouldn't be surprised if Brissett ended up staying in Gainesville. While the sophomore quarterback is a competitor that wants to be on the field, he has kept his spirits up all year because of how much he enjoys being in Gainesville.
"I think he loves the University of Florida," Pease said as to why Brissett would stay. "I think if he's in a situation where he sees himself competing and playing and helping, yeah. Sometimes it's hard to know how teenagers think. That's a situation I'm sure we'll cross in some point in time."