It is obvious after the game how important the game was to Florida. Meyer preaches that the most invested team wins and UF definitely played hard. I thought a key sequence in the game was in the first half when FSU did not get the fourth and one and UF converted a third and long on the next series to lead them to the first touchdown. FSU was 0-3 coming in when not scoring first and neither team was going to be very good coming from behind. The Gator defense played with more spirit and intensity than they did in Columbia and really beat up FSU's offense. This is the type of win (blowout) that coupled with a bowl win will make many feel optimistic in the off season.
Florida's defense was good -- why did they play so well?
Emotion. UF played with great emotion. Florida's defensive line dominated and banged FSU up front with great play from Marcus Thomas and Jeremy Mincey. Brandon Siler recorded just one tackle vs South Carolina -- against FSU he took less than three minutes to record his first tackle. The defense did some things they had not done on the road in losses to Alabama and South Carolina. After a Chris Leak turnover UF's defense held FSU's offense and forced a field goal which was blocked for a score. The secondary did a great job in coverage and played very physical.
What did UF do to shut down Greg Carr?
Weatherford was under a lot of pressure so that does make it tough for him to get throws off but the secondary certainly knew where Carr was on the field. UF's safeties did a nice job coming over the top and doubling Carr. His catch was in triple coverage in which Herring mistimed his jump and the game was over regardless.
Do you think the Gators will benefit in recruiting from the win?
Yes and it's obvious with seven commitments over the week. I think the environment and the fans more than anything can help recruits make their final decision. Most kids who want to be Gators will find that when they are on campus it is the right move. I think UF will probably get Tim Tebow which will boost this class up into the top ten.
What are your thoughts on UF's offense?
Florida beat Tennessee, Georgia, and FSU without going over 300 yards in a game. The defense carried them in those games. They still need some big plays and I thought Leak, Baker, Jackson, and Cornelius each contributed big enough plays to help UF win. Leak was under a lot of pressure but hung in there nicely and made some good throws early and late in the game. Florida needs to get offensive lineman. The FSU defensive linemen were winning early but Degory and folks hung together and won out in the end. I thought Dan Mullen called a good game. He called some down field passes, one in which Chris did not convert.
What about the play of Avery Atkins?
I think the future is bright for the secondary with him and Reggie Nelson. Both guys play with energy and great emotion. Atkins showed he is not a freshman anymore and will certainly provide a shutdown corner in years to come.
What bowl game do you think Florida will get into?
Everyone is saying Shreveport and the Independence. They could face Colorado now with there struggles or Missouri and quarterback Brad Smith. I think it will be all business for UF as the seniors really want to get a ninth win.
Which offensive players played well?
Other than a 1-8 stretch I thought Chris Leak played pretty solid. Mike Degory had his hands full all day but battled very hard. The receivers may not grade out well but each guy made a play including two key third down receptions for Jemalle Cornelius. Marcus Manson should be the feature back in the bowl game and next season.
Which defensive players played well?
All of them. Jarvis Herring made himself some money on Saturday. NFL scouts will watch this tape in there pre-draft analysis and they will like what they see. The whole defensive line played well and Dee Webb did a great job in coverage. Siler rebounded with his typical dominant game. One guy I will single out is Earl Everett. He quietly has had a very good season. He was in double figures in tackles against South Carolina and Saturday had 7 tackles 1.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
Any stats that played out the way you thought?
The Gators got 4 turnovers and 5 sacks. That, to me, is a big difference in the outcome. UF scored 24 points off 3 of the 4 turnovers. Looking back at my pre-season 30-30-15, the Gators achieved two of the three goals. They got an SEC high 30 turnovers and 32 sacks which is 21st in the country. They gave up 18 points per game which was three higher than the goal. If UF could have lowered that number in one of their losses they might be playing this week in Atlanta.
Do you think Florida had an easier schedule this year than they will have next season?
I think the schedule is going to be tough next year but this year was a good learning experience for Meyer and his staff. I realize Tennessee, Georgia, and FSU combined for 12 regular season losses but the fact remains they will always be rivals. You go unbeaten at home and you take your shots on the road. The next step for this team under Meyer is to mature and learn how to win on the road. Next year they go to Tennessee, FSU, and Auburn. To win the conference they will have to probably win one of those road games and anytime you can beat FSU that is a big year.
Do you think Florida vs. FSU will stay on Thanksgiving Weekend?
I think it has to with new 12 game schedule. Unless the NCAA lengthens the season, then I think you have to play this game later. It's tough to not have an open date and even though both teams potentially could have conference championship games the next week it is the only place it could fit with a 12th game. From a pure fans' point of view, I like it. It made for a fun holiday weekend, but that is only my opinion.
What did you think about the officiating?
It was not "Swindle at The Swamp" and I believe instant replay will make sure games like that never happen again. I thought it was ok, I don't think Derrick Harvey should have been tossed. He was punched by Cornelius Lewis right in front of me and then kinda of shoved back. Overall it was decent considering they were SEC officials and UF came in with the most penalties called on them in the SEC. UF ended up with seven which is not great but I guess it was of their pace of 9 per game.