After rushing for 146 yards on a career high 34 rushes and two touchdowns against LSU, senior Mike Gillislee was the recipient of two weekly awards: SEC Offensive Player of the Week and the Walter Camp Foundation National Offensive Player of the Week. Additionally, junior safety Matt Elam was honored as the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts tallying a team high 7 solo tackles and forcing a game changing fumble.
Gillislee’s yardage was the most given up by LSU to one individual since 2010. His contributions, however, go beyond the simple stats he tallied. Many of his yards were gained after contact where he either pushed the pile or bounced outside to gain positive yards where there were none initially. His biggest was a third down play in the 4 quarter where he appeared to be stopped for no gain. Even the announcers were fooled thinking he was stopped and somehow he pulled out from underneath 4 LSU defenders to hit a 5th and proceed to drive him backward for a 5 yard game and a first down.
Elam, of course, had the play of the game stripping the ball from the LSU receiver on their only big play all night after Florida had scored to make it 7-6. The receiver was initially ruled down on the play but after further review they ruled it a fumble and recovery by UF. The Gators went on to drive down for the second score and the final 14-6 advantage.
One interesting note is that once again in his weekly SEC media Q&A Muschamp singled out sophomore and local Cantonment product Loucheiz Purifoy saying that he covers punts better than any player he’s ever been around. Since the end of spring when a reporter asked Muschamp if he had any regrets from last year, the worst in Gainesville since 1989, and he answered only that he didn’t play Loucheiz Purifoy more, Muschamp has mentioned him in every weekly media address. High praise from a former defensive back himself and interesting when you consider that Purifoy was message board fodder and the brunt of much grousing by Gator fans after the first two games this season.
Funny how quickly perceptions can change. Going into the season the Gators were picked to finish a distant third in the SEC East and no one, maybe not even the team itself, gave them a chance to beat elite teams like LSU, Alabama, South Carolina, or Georgia. Now they’re number four in the country one spot behind Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks (still sounds strange) and they’re not only getting major love from talking heads everywhere but even forecast in the national championship picture. These guys have proven they can handle the pressure of tough SEC road environments, that they can handle the pressure of coming from behind in the second half, now we’ll see if they can handle the pressure of success. Their lunchpail mentality combined with their tough grind it out no worry attitudes leads me to believe that they will handle this pressure as well as all the others. At this point, no one on the schedule is unbeatable but no one is a given victory either.
This week it’s another tough SEC road game against an Vanderbilt team led by Aaron Rodger’s younger brother Jordan, a team that almost beat them in the Swamp last year and so far has been a disappointment this year. Until next time, Go Gators!