Feeding Frenzy; Gators 35 MSU 9

The Florida special teams play has been anything but consistent this season. However, just as they did three weeks ago against Tennessee, their big play ability inspired the Gators and perhaps best of all, provided a much needed light out of the fog. Before the day was over, a feeding frenzy was had by all.

The body language of the crowd through two and half quarters was all you needed to gauge this one in the first half. "The Swamp" looked more like an ER waiting room. Deep sighs, wringing of the hands, and rubbing the forehead signaled an abundance of concern.

Punter Eric Wilbur seemingly ignited Florida with a 56 yard punt that pinned Mississippi State at their one yard line with 9:05 remaining in the second quarter. One third down Jarvis Herring came on the blitz and dropped State quarterback Omarr Conner for a safety giving the Gators a 5-3 lead. Conner was attempting to throw the ball away and was flagged fort the foul.

The struggling Florida offense took the Bulldogs punt and in keeping with their struggles turned an opportunity into a three and out possession. Wilbur's next punt, gave Mississippi State return man Jonathan Lowe trouble. Florida gunner Reggie Nelson took full advantage by popping Lowe as he pounced on the football at the Bulldogs 13 yard line.

One play later DeShawn Wynn took his first carry of the game into the end zone after finding the lane and making a couple of outstanding cuts.

Wilbur and Nelson combined to lead the Florida special teams again late in the third quarter when Wilbur launched a pooch kick that bounced 34 yards into the waiting arms of Nelson, who was camped out at the one yard line.

lorida's DeShawn Wynn (21) breaks the tackles of Mississippi State's Kevin Dockery (4) and David Heard (23) as Florida's Dallas Baker (81) blocks to score a touchdown in the second quarter in Gainesville, Fla. Saturday, Oct. 8, 2005.(AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

Two plays later, linebacker Brandon Siler sacked MSU reserve quarterback Mike Henig for the Gators second safety of the game.

The Florida feeding frenzy continued as the offense put together an eight play, 68 yard drive that culminated with a 15 yard Florida touchdown when Leak found Dallas Baker running across the back of the end zone.

Four plays later, the Florida special teams scored once more. Dee Webb blocked a Blake McAdams punt in the end zone, where Terrance "Hot Tamale" Holmes caught it while tiptoeing the line to give the Gators a 35-9 lead.

Chris Leak
His confidence shaken and shoulder sore, Leak made several poor reads, underthrew, overthrew and (at times) ran out of the pocket when the protection still afforded him another couple of seconds to make a throw.

Leak threw a pair of interceptions, and could well have thrown at least two more. He was busted up by the Crimson Tide last weekend. However, his problems began today before the Bulldogs ever got a paw on him, when he seemingly had trouble making a couple of key reads in the passing game and when making the pitch in the option. He was generally out of sync.

Dallas Baker (81) scores a touchdown after catching a pass in the 4th quarter with Mississippi States defensice back David Heard on the ground after failing to block the pass. Florida defeated Mississippi, 35-9, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2005, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

Leak seemed to improve late in the third and fourth quarters. He finished 18 of 33 for 244 yards. Leak threw one touchdown pass. Hopefully, he can get back in time for next week's showdown in Baton Rouge.

Reggie Nelson
What else can Nelson do to impress? Special teams gunner- defensive pressures- sound coverage. Wow. Nelson was instrumental in a big play role and is finally getting more reps when the Florida defense is on the field, which led to quarterback hurries and sacks. He finished with five tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks, a quarterback hurry, and a fumble recovery.

Should we expect to see him even more? Absolutely! Reggie Nelson is a playmaker that offensive coordinators will have to address when making their gameplan.

The Florida defense did exactly what defensive coordinators preach, make a play and score. Two safeties in a season is impressive. Two safeties in a game is nothing short of insane. An outstanding day by the Florida defense.

Missed tackles = Big Plays
The tackling was a world away from last weekend in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The Gators brought Jerious Norwood and company down on the first opportunity. Coaches Greg Mattison and Charlie Strong have a big play to loop during their meeting with the players to remind them of that importance. Norwood took a 76 run to the house after a missed tackle, as the Bulldogs closed the gap.

Florida's Brandon Siler (40) tackles Mississippe State's Jerious Norwood (12( during the first quarter in Gainesville, Fla. Saturday, Oct. 8, 2005.(AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)
Defensive Line Play
Jeremy Mincey, Joe Cohen, Marcus Thomas, Jarvis Moss, and Derrick Harvey had a field day against an offensive front that was clearly over their heads. The group got plenty of pressure on Mississippi State quarterbacks Omarr Conner and Mike Henig. They should get a big assist in helping Reggie Nelson, Jarvis Herring, and Brandon Siler sacks.

So, what was the over/under on Mississippi State offensive linemen with handfuls of blue Florida jerseys? I counted numerous plays where Florida defensive ends got wide on Bulldogs tackles only to have to break away and chase the Bulldogs ballcarriers as their jerseys were forcefully pried from the hands of these offensive linemen. Hopefully, the Florida staff will send a copy of the tape to the SEC Officials.

Brandon Siler
Florida's present day version of the Rock'em- Sock'em Robot was simply outstanding again. Siler had four tackles, including two tackles for loss, one sack, two quarterback hurries, two passes broken up, and a fumble recovery. Siler was flying around, hitting guys, and having fun.

Markus Manson
He didn't get the start as I expected, but I suspect that he soon will. Manson has a much more effective gear hitting the hole than DeShawn Wynn. Manson had just three carries in the first half, but tallied 31 yards. He had seven carries for 45 yards overall.

Running after the catch
Dallas Baker and Chad Jackson repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to add to the highlight reels. These guys are not only setting the standard, they're doing so while young guns Kenneth Tookes, Nyan Boateng, Louis Murphy, and company.

Blocking downfield
Early in the contest, the blocking by the wide receivers downfield was not up to par. There were several plays that could have gone for additional yardage if the receivers had just stayed with the blocks a little longer. There were also a couple of costly penalties that didn't help.

Personally, the finest overall blocker among the receivers is Kyle Morgan. He doesn't stop until the whistle. The blocking downfield appeared to be much better later in the game.

Offensive Player of the Game…Dallas Baker

Defensive Player of the Game…Brandon Siler and Reggie Nelson

Special Teams Player of the Game…Eric Wilbur

The University of Florida Gators celebrate their win against Mississippi State 35-9 on October 8, 2005 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)

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