What a win, Sports Fans! Lot of eyes on this game. Lot of early speculation and questions as well. After playing better against a lowly Vol team, would we have enough momentum and confidence to go on the road and win in a place that has been difficult to say the least for our Gators to find a victory? How would we fare on the line of scrimmage, particularly against a team that has one of the best DLs in college football? What would we get from the offense to help us to a win (might read that as could Franks do what it takes to at least keep the D off the field)? Well I think we saw the answers unfold in a tough, old fashioned 13-6 SEC road victory where the D, who played some bend but don't break early on, but hit the switch and just took over in the second half. Even 25 yards in penalties that got them out of a hole on MissState's final possession couldn't derail the D, particularly the front four and notably Jachai Polite. I also think an acknowledgment of the improvements and positive steps we are taking is due Dan Mullen. You haven't got to like him or even think that he was the best guy we could have hired at the time. We aren't where we want to be yet and it will take time to get there, but we should all appreciate the direction that we are moving. Hell, I'd almost be willing to give him an extension for what he's done with the Special Teams (OK maybe not an extension, but a beer and several "atta boys" at least). The only criticism I can give him is not using a time out earlier at the end of the first half (those time outs don't do you any good in your pocket going into the locker room), but at the conclusion I guess it's a moot point. Otherwise I think he had a pretty good game plan and the D obviously came to play. Team was very well prepared. Something we couldn't say very often the last few years. So let's look at some specifics of the big win in Stark Vegas: *One big sequence in the game that could have turned it in two different directions was Franks' long ball that was negated by Taylor's holding call and MissSt's drop on the deep pass. Either that would have been complete likely would have resulted in points and could have impacted the momentum and in the Bulldog's case might have impacted the outcome. But it didn't and the good guys sealed the deal on the backs of a dominant defensive performance. We held them to about 200 yards of offense and no TDs. How about that?! *Franks threw well enough to go over 200 passing. He made some really nice throws and a couple of bone headed ones that resulted in a pick and a couple more that probably should have been. He ran the offense pretty well and played with what looked to me as more confidence in a game that obviously had a lot of pressure attached. He might not have necessarily won the game, but he sure didn't lose it! Seems to be growing and this is something I wasn't sure he could do at the pace I think we've seen this season. *We didn't rush for a ton, but we got some gains when we needed them. I was surprised at the stat line that Scarlett only had 21 yards. Seemed like he should have had a few more, but Perine had a nice game as did Pierce, who looks to be our "closer" if you will, bringing fresh legs and power into the game when the opposing D may be a little gassed. He'll eventually get some touches earlier, but he's playing his role nicely at this point. Did I mention Toney had a couple of good runs? Nice QB counter on one. *The OL had some good moments, obviously, as we had somewhere around 350 yards of offense. Couldn't pull that off against there D if they weren't doing some good things. But we had some of the usual blunders as well, such as Fred's two false starts, Taylor's aforementioned hold, and a whiff by Ivey. Still, there are some improvements, effort and knowing their assignments perhaps, even if consistently executing them continues to be a work in progress. *Lot of names in the secondary that I am not familiar with. Made some mistakes (like letting the guy get behind them on the drop), but overall they held the Bullogs to around 100 yards passing. Henderson and Chauncey are really dependable, if not pretty good, and are leaders of that unit. Little #21, whose name escapes me, made some good plays. Best thing is that this group actually looks like they are being coached. *The front seven, especially the DEs, played well. As mentioned earlier, they bent but didn't break early when MissSt was fresh, attacking, and having success moving the ball. But they answered the bell in the second half and put the hat on the QB, rendering him virtually ineffective when the Bulldogs had to have his best to have a chance to tie or win late. Polite, Zuniga, and CeCe were big with the rush and the whole unit kept the ground game from hurting us. Something for the DEs to work on however is that we don't always read run very well and the success MissSt had off tackle was a result of us getting upfield. Gotta love what this group is doing and the steps they've made under Grantham. *Listened to the ESPN broadcast after the game and I think they mentioned that 11 Gators caught balls today. Pretty good job of spreading it around. And who would have thought one of if not the biggest catches came on a flanker pass to the TE? Timing on when to call those plays is everything. *Another SEC road game and another home fan base that cleared out so fast you'd think they were handing out commodity cheese Chek soft drinks in the parking lot. *In other football news, Taggart gets an unlikely win when Petrino steps on his d!ck and calls a pass play after getting a first down deep in Nole territory with about a minute and a half remaining. The pass, of course, was intercepted and the Noles went on to score the winning TD. SMH. So LSU is up next at our place. Suddenly it looks like we may have a shot. Who'd a thunk it post-UK? Again, gotta give this group and the staff some credit. They are starting to meet, maybe exceed, many of our expectations. But one game at a time and the Bayou Bengals are it. If we get the same defensive effort against them as we gave today, I like our chances. Unless I missed something, we seem to be staying pretty healthy and we are building depth. Lot of football left, but we are doing good things and maybe the belief of the fan base is growing? I know that the belief of the team certainly is. Like one of the radio guys said after the game, finally after the last three unfulfilled years, the players' work is now paying off. It may be more appropriate to say that this year's work is paying off and the veterans are finally overcoming the lack of decent coaching they were previously exposed to, which is a testament to the fortitude of these kids. Lesser ones would have cashed it in by now and some did. Keep on rockin' Gators. Liking what we are doing and look forward to continued growth and development. Go Gators!