Sep 15, 2012; Knoxville, TN, USA; Florida Gators defensive back De'Ante Saunders (26) (left) and defensive lineman Dominique Easley (center) (2) and linebacker Lerentee McCray (34) (right) celebrate defeating the Tennessee Volunteers 37-20 flooowing the game at Neyland Stadium. Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE
By Travis Duncan
Gator Envy writer
Just as a child sheds the training wheels on their first bike, so it is the Gators offense under sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel and first-year offensive coordinator Brent Pease is evolving.
It as though they realized, 'Hey we can do this'.
"I knew our routes a little bit better and I knew their defense a little bit better," Driskel said after the 37-20 win.
"That just makes you more comfortable back there and when you're more comfortable, the game really slows down a little bit. I thought I got better again this week."
Last week for the first time in two years the Gator offense gave a semblance of order and fluidity against a formidable opponent in Texas A&M.
For the second straight week on the road, in a soldout Neyland stadium in Knoxville in front of 102,455 fans Saturday night, the Gators did a little more than we thought possible.
Really it came down to a ground game and a sophomore quarterback taking another step forward.
The Gators out-rushed the Vols by a 336-83 margin.
"Knowing that we can run the ball on any down and expect to get four or five or even hit a big play," Driskel said.
"That really takes pressure off of me and that really kills the defense and kills all of the momentum that they have."
The first half was not perfect for Driskel and Co. but was highlighted by a 20-yard pass to Jordan Reed to setup first and 10 at the 14 and a touchdown run by Trey Burton.
The Gators were unable to punch it in on the goal line to finish the first half, and settled for a field goal to go into the locker room with a 14-10 deficit to the Vols.
In the second half, the Gators were able to utilize the versatility of Driskel and Burton to score 27 points.
Driskel completed 70-percent of his passes, 14-of-20 for 219 yards, with two touchdowns. He made some really great throws and some just OK throws, but was not intercepted. He carried the ball eight times for 81 yards.
Muschamp was pleased with his quarterback but was sure to point out, "They're making plays around him."
"They're not throwing it all on his shoulders. Hats off to Brent Pease. I think he did an outstanding job again tonight."
Burton carried the ball three times. Twice he scored touchdowns (14 and 80 yards) and he caught two passes for 38 yards.
Jordan Reed caught five passes for 60 yards including a 23-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter to give the Gators the lead 27-20.
The Gators totaled 336 rushing yards on 43 carries. Florida’s 37 points were its most in Knoxville since a 43-30 win on Oct. 13, 1984.
The Gators defense was dominant to close out the game, after a less than perfect first half. Tyler Bray is a solid quarterback for the Vols. The Gators limited Bray to a 50-percent completion rate, 22 of 44, for 257 yards with 2 touchdowns and two interceptions.
"A lot of the throws they made, if you really want to look at them, we're all getting upset and it's a heck of a throw and a heck of a catch against a guy who will be playing in the National Football League," Muschamp said.
"They've got some good guys."
Florida's defense really turned it on in the 4th quarter, when they limited Tennessee to 5 yards total and -3 yards rushing and held a 152-5 advantage in total offense during the final quarter.
At 3-0 and tied for the SEC East lead, no one is complaining. Still it's hard not to want to test out the new bike against the big boys. That will come Oct. 6th with LSU traveling to Gainesville. Between now and then is a visit by the Kentucky Wildcats next Saturday.
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