Screen game important to Gillislee

Screen game important to Gillislee

The conversation between Florida coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease was focused on second down. Missouri was bringing extra pressure and leaving its defense vulnerable. Two plays after the Gators had a long touchdown taken off the board, Pease decided to dial up a rare screen on second down to offset the pressure, and it was the highlight play for Mike Gillislee.

The Missouri defense had the momentum after Jeff Driskel threw a long touchdown to Frankie Hammond that was called back because of a holding penalty. The Gators picked up eight yards to make it 2nd and 12, and true to their form, the Tigers stuck with their normal routine—blitzing on second down.

It gave the Gators the ideal matchup they were waiting for.

"In man coverage, if you can block the defender who has the back, you've got a chance for a big one," Will Muschamp said. "That's what happened."

After Gillislee didn't play much of a role in the previous three weeks against Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Georgia, Muschamp wanted to change that on Saturday.

"I told Brent before the game that we were going to be hard headed with Gilly today," Muschamp said. "We were going to get him today."

Gillislee ran the ball 16 times for 68 yards while adding one catch for 45 yards on the screen. He didn't have the running lanes that were present in the beginning of the season, and he did add an uncharacteristic fumble.

The counter and misdirection run plays that Florida had a lot of success with in the early season worked to varying levels of success on Saturday, but it will continue to be a part of the offense going forward.

The offense as a whole wasn't effective on Saturday, and Muschamp blamed it on multiple things.

"There's so many things," Muschamp said. "It's consistency in our performance, down in and down out. Position by position, it's not there. That's where we've got to get some more production and strive for that."

DEFENSE STEPS UP: Where the Florida offense sputtered, the defense was there to clean up the mess. It has been part of the plan for this season. The offseason plan put the defense in similar situations where they had to pick up for a mistake by the other side of the ball.

It's not just a mindset the team preaches in the offseason or during the week of a game. It's every day of the year.

"It's something you drill into your players' heads 365 days of the year," Muschamp said. "Our job is to make stops. You're the fireman, go put the fire out. I don't care how bad it's blazing. Go put the fire out.

"It's an attitude. It's an opportunity for greatness. Go out and make a stop on the goal line. You want to be great? Be put in those situations and do it."

The Gators were top ten in total defense last season, but they're improved in all areas this season. Muschamp credits it to better situations defense, especially in the red zone, plus the improved ability to create turnovers.

SEC EAST RACE: The Gators did their part in closing SEC play with a win over Missouri, but they still needed help. When the Florida game ended, there was hope for the Gators that Georgia would lose to Ole Miss or Auburn. With the Bulldogs beating Ole Miss, Florida's last hope is that Georgia will lose at Auburn next weekend.

Muschamp has been clear since being named the Florida head coach that he viewed any season without a trip to the conference title game as a failure.

"I took this job fully understanding that the expectation is to go to Atlanta and win a championship," Muschamp said. "We've made strides, but we're not where we want to be."

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