It might not have been pretty offensively, but a win is still a win and they all still count the same in the standings. Here are a dozen observations from Florida's shutout victory over Jacksonville State Saturday in the Swamp.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
After struggling over the previous four games, senior running back Mike Gillislee put together his fourth 100+ yard day of the season, scrambling for 6.1 yards per carry and his first rushing score since Oct. 6. Gillislee is now 36 yards away from reaching the 1,000-yard plateau and becoming the first UF running back to hit the mark since Ciatrick Fason in 2004.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Along with 18 other seniors, Mike linebacker Jon Bostic played his final game in The Swamp on Saturday. He celebrated by registering the first interception return for a touchdown of his career, grabbing a ball out of the air early in the third quarter and bringing it back seven yards for the score. Bostic also chased down a broken play on the first play from scrimmage, saving a Jacksonville State touchdown on the opening series of the game.
UNSUNG HERO OF THE GAME
Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis seems to earn this award weekly, and he would be a worthy recipient this week with three made field goals on the afternoon. However, senior safety Josh Evans had yet another fantastic game, leading the Gators with seven tackles including two solo takedowns, 1.5 for lost yardage and half of a sack. Evans has been an unsung hero for Florida all season long with his vast improvement going largely unrecognized.
STAT LINE OF THE GAME
2-of-11…which represents Florida's lack of offensive success on third down. This was the same "stat line of the game" from last week, in which UF went 4-of-14 against Louisiana-Lafayette. The Gators are now a paltry 54-of-153 (35.3 percent) on third down this season, which continues to be a major concern especially as Florida prepares for one of the best defenses in the nation next Saturday.
ON THE RISE
Freshman RB Matt Jones, who got eight carries on the afternoon in relief of Gillislee after seeing very little action recently. Jones made the most of his touches, gaining 65 yard on the eight rushes and proving that he deserves to see the field more. Head coach Will Muschamp said after the game that Jones had not been practicing well, which is why his carries had been greatly reduced over the last few weeks. However, he has matured and worked through those struggles, which is why he was rewarded on Saturday.
ON THE BUBBLE
Last week the offensive line was criticized for its struggles, so it is only fair that the wide receivers get their fair share of the blame. Though Florida was playing conservatively in the second half, the receivers did sophomore quarterback Jacoby Brissett no favors on Saturday. Brissett overthrew/missed two potential touchdowns but had another dropped and was unable to find open receivers to throw the ball to in the first half.
Though the Gators were certainly not expected to post 70 points, and Muschamp has showed an obvious restraint in running up the score against lower-tier opponents, Florida's lack of offense on Saturday was certainly troubling. UF's inability to convert third downs against an FCS team, even if simply running the ball every single time, is quite concerning and something that is also worrisome for the coaching staff. One way or another, the offense needs to improve - and fast.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Though Bostic's interception was certainly impressive, his speed and ability to run down Gamecocks wide receiver Kevyn Cooper was an even bigger play on Saturday. The last thing the Gators wanted to do was start down 7-0 at home to a FCS school, especially after almost losing to Louisiana-Lafayette one week earlier. Bostic's chase down not only saved a touchdown on that play but also the series as UF only allowed one more yard on the drive and JSU missed a 25-yard field goal.
THE GOOD NEWS
Florida won and there were no major injuries suffered.
THE BAD NEWS
The Gators did not show any offensive improvement whatsoever.
A LOOK AHEAD
Florida will conclude the regular season by taking on Florida State on the road in Tallahassee, FL. The game, which will air live on ABC at 3:30 p.m., could determine whether or not UF plays in a BCS bowl and potentially even the national championship, should the dominoes fall the right way for the Gators. FSU will likely be in a bowl game no matter what if it wins the ACC outright, but the Seminoles could also put themselves back in the BCS title picture with a victory.