The defensive front harassed all day long and forced the quarterbacks from Mississippi State into bad play after bad play. A season high six sacks, now puts the defense on course to have a good sack total at the end of the year. Nine tackles for loss, one interception and two fumble recoveries were all big plays for a defense that gave up two big plays to not earn an A+.
Meyer was very happy with the defense following the game. "The great day was on the defensive side of the ball," Meyer said. "They had six sacks, three turnovers, and the two safeties."
Turnover Ratio: (D)
The three defensive turnovers helped, but the gators three interceptions and one fumble on Chad Jackson's reach for the end zone, netted them a negative total for the first time this season at (-1).
Red Zone Offense: (C)
The Gators were three for four inside the red zone. They kicked a field goal just outside of the red zone and Leak threw an interception just outside of the red zone. There just weren't enough opportunities
Special Teams: (A)
Eric Wilbur averaged 47.3 yards a punt and 7.3 yards more than MSU. The Gators netted 14.5 yards more per punt. Wilbur landed five punts inside the 20 yard line and two inside the one yard line that resulted in two safeties. They held punt returns to (-3) yards. The gators recovered a muffed punt, again. While the kickoff situation still continues to be a learning spot, Chris Hetland also went one for one on field goals and from 44 yards.
"On our goal board, we categorize things," Meyer said. "We have something called game breakers and a 60 yard change in field position is one of them. Downing the ball inside the ten yard line is another. The average offense scores (only) three out of 100 times if they start inside the ten."
The Gators finished with over eight minutes more of possession time getting 34:07 to 25:53 for Mississippi and with any continuity on offense would have made this game look really ugly. As it was the great play from the defense and parts of the special teams was good enough to get a solid win over a bad team.
Offensive Player of the Game
Dallas Baker has come on strong and is now the player that Gator fans have seen show up in spring for the last three years, only to disappear for the fall. With back to back 100 plus yard games, Baker is becoming a big time reliable target for Leak and is making tough catches and showing toughness after the catch. All of these are things that will get him more opportunities and endear him to the coaching staff. His seven catches, 123 yards, one touchdown, and long catch of 42 yards were all tops for the Gator receivers on Saturday.
"I think Dallas Baker played a tremendous game and is turning into our most polished receiver," Meyer said following the game. "He had 123 yards and back to back 100 yard games."
Baker is just happy to be involved and knows he is ready to make things happen for the offense that is becoming devoid of playmakers due to injury.
"Honestly it feels like a dream," Baker said after the game. "I have been trying so hard to step up my play from the spring and now that I am finally doing it, it's like, wow. I have to give credit to Coach Gonzalez and Coach Meyer. They stay on top of me to be better, not being happy to be one of those guys having one or two catches. They always talk about going out and being accountable."
"I can't be one of those guys that sit back in the shadows and say we need Chad to make a play or Chris, or DeShawn Wynn. I have to be one of those guys that has to be able to come in when my number is called and make a play. I am starting to be more of a vocal leader."
Defensive Player of the Game
While the sentimental favorite might be Reggie Nelson., Jeremy Mincey had a hell of a game on Saturday. With 10 tackles, two sacks another half tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry; Mincey was disruptive all day up front for the Gators. Mincey will likely earn Champions Club status yet again for the Gators and he is just happy the defense came out and proved itself on Saturday after a poor showing last week.
"I did take it to heart because I knew we could have played 100 times better than that," Mincey said. "A lot of guys missed their keys, which is why the loss wasn't as bad as I thought. We know it was simple mistakes got us beat.
This game was good for a defense that scored three times, twice by safety, and once by blocking a punt. Mincey wants to take this preparation and this feeling into Baton Rouge next week when the Gators play LSU.
"It was exciting and I am proud of my teammates," he said. "We just have to prepare the best we can, and do everything right. Hopefully we will play the best game we can play."
Special Teams Player of the Game
Once he gave up the kickoff duties, Eric Wilbur showed up big time in the punting department. Downing five punts inside the 20 yard line and two inside the one yard line, Wilbur was a very big part of getting the Gators on the track to what ended up being a lopsided victory. Wilbur was all about deflecting the attention when speaking after the game
"I'm ecstatic, you could see on the second one he was ecstatic," Wilbur said about the two punts Reggie Nelson downed inside the one yard line. Like coach said, it's a game changing play.
Wilbur understands the special teams needs to keep stepping up every game, in case one of the pother facets of the game isn't ready.
"I expect our offense to do well but sometimes we are going to have to punt," he said. "Special teams help a lot, but defense and offense has to do their job."