The first half gave some glimpses of it. Florida ran for 162 yards in the first half and went into halftime with a 14-7 lead, getting the ball to start the second half. The offensive linemen expected the Georgia defense to look different in the second half, but that change wasn’t there.
The Georgia defense looked flat, wanting to avoid the physical nature the Gators were determined to play with in Jacksonville.
“We were way tougher than they were, first of all,” D.J. Humphries said. “Then we just knocked the fight out of them. After we came out in the second half and took it down (and scored on the opening drive), they were done. All the fight was gone out of them. They didn’t want to hit us at all.”
The offensive line knew what was coming on Saturday. No one expected Florida to throw the ball just six times, but they knew the emphasis was on them to dominate the line of scrimmage and open up holes for the running backs.
It was similar to what Florida did at South Carolina last year. The Gators were on their third-string quarterback for that trip to Columbia and threw the ball 14 times while running it 41. That looked like an air raid offense compared to what Florida deployed in Jacksonville on Saturday.
Jones and Taylor get most of the credit for totaling 389 yards and four touchdowns, and the offensive line is OK with that. They got their satisfaction by looking up at the scoreboard and seeing the 418 rushing yards for the game.
“The offensive line doesn’t need no glory,” Humphries said. “We saw that 424 on screen, that’s plenty of love we need. I’m just happy for those boys and that they took care of the opportunity.”
That doesn’t mean the offensive line won’t be rewarded.
“(Jones or Taylor) better buy us dinner tonight,” Humphries said with a laugh. “Somebody got to buy us some food.”
Jones later said he was taking the offensive linemen to dinner this week.
Humphries was one of the players Muschamp challenged by name during the week. He played at left tackle two years ago during the rivalry as a true freshman and remembered being wide-eyed. But playing quarterback in the rivalry? That’s why he felt the need to provide the running lanes and pass protection for freshman Treon Harris.
“He definitely stepped up today,” Humphries said. “He didn’t have to throw the ball a lot, but he was a vital part to the team. He got us to the line, got us lined up, got us moving fast.”
The success on the ground allowed the Florida players to experience something not many of them had. Neiron Ball is the only player on the roster to play in a Florida win over the Bulldogs. That changed in a big way on Saturday night, and the players wanted to soak it in.
Humphries stood arm-in-arm with offensive line coach Mike Summers, watching as the Georgia fans left the stadium.
“That’s a beautiful sight,” Summers said to Humphries on the sideline.
The challenge now is to carry this production through the rest of the season. The offense had life on Saturday for the first time since the Gators hosted Kentucky during the second week of the season, but they don’t want this to be the end point.
None of the future mattered on Saturday, though. The players wanted to take the night to enjoy the win and the dominant performance on the ground.
“First time beating Georgia, 418 rushing yards – I’ve got that memory for a while,” Humphries said. “I’m going to have that one for the rest of my life.”