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Gators LB Jelani Jenkins left Saturday's game with an injury, forcing Antonio Morrison into action.

Sunday September 9, 2012Gators Notebook: Defensive Depth Pays Off, Flags Disappear, Playmaker Patton, More

Gators LB Jelani Jenkins left Saturday's game with an injury, forcing Antonio Morrison into action.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER Senior Writer Senior Writer Chris Harry contributed to this report.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- As one of the team's leaders, Gators linebacker Jon Bostic told them there would be days like Saturday. There always is during the course of an SEC season.

Bostic told younger teammates such as Michael Taylor and true freshman Antonio Morrison to be ready.

"Your name may get called a lot earlier than you expect,'' Bostic said. "Make sure you are learning your stuff, your playbook, your technique, and go out there and play hard."

In Florida's 20-17 win over Texas A&M on Saturday, Morrison was called into duty early when starting weak-side linebacker Jelani Jenkins left the game in the first quarter and did not return.

Gators coach Will Muschamp said afterward that Jenkins apparently suffered a thumb injury. Morrison did his job by recording a career-high six tackles, matching Taylor for second on the team Saturday.

The Gators were hit hard by injuries against the Aggies. Safety Josh Evans, who finished with a team-high eight tackles, did not play after going down following a helmet-to-helmet collision.

Running back Mike Gillislee did not play much of the fourth quarter due to an apparent groin injury that required the attention of trainers in the first half.

Several other Gators went in and out with injuries Saturday. Muschamp usually provides an injury report during his Monday press conference. Bostic said Saturday's win was a team effort because of the rash of injuries.

"It took everything we had,'' he said.


Making his first career start, Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel was doing so on the road at Kyle Field in Texas A&M's first SEC game. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive was in attendance as were more than 87,000 Aggies ready to run the Gators out of town.

Driskel remained composed after the Gators fell behind 17-7 in the first half and as the Gators left the field after the game, the loudest fans in the stadium were the Florida fans camped behind the Gators' sideline.

Driskel hasn't been around long, but he saw enough to know A&M fans are SEC caliber.

"It was awesome," Driskel said. "I mean, that crowd, it was all that was advertised. They were in it the whole game."


The win at College Station marked just the second time in 11 trips to Texas that the Gators came away with a victory. Their lone previous win was a 48-3 defeat of Rice in the 1977 season opener at Houston, a game highlighted by a 99-yard touchdown play from quarterback Cris Collinsworth to Derrick Gaffney.

UF’s Texas history: 

-Oct. 25, 1924 -- Tied Texas 7-7 at Austin

-Sept. 30, 1939 -- Lost to Texas 12-0 at Austin 

-Sept. 19, 1953 -- Lost to Rice 20-16 at Houston 

-Sept. 18, 1954 -- Lost to Rice 34-14 at Houston 

-Oct. 10, 1959 -- Tied Rice 13-13 at Houston 

-Oct. 14, 1961 -- Lost to Rice 19-10 at Houston 

-Jan. 1, 1977 -- Lost to Texas A&M 37-14 in the Sun Bowl at El Paso 

-Sept. 17, 1977 -- Defeated Rice 48-3 at Houston 

-Sept. 15, 1979 -- Lost to Houston 14-10 at Houston 

-Dec. 31, 1982 -- Lost to Arkansas 28-24 in the Astro Bluebonnet Bowl at Houston  

-Sept. 8, 2012 -- Defeated Texas A&M 20-17 at College Station


The last time the Gators won a game on the road after falling behind by more than 10 points was at Tennessee in 2006. Florida trailed 17-7 at Knoxville that night, but clawed back behind quarterback Chris Leak, who threw two of his three touchdown passes in the game’s final 17 minutes, including the decisive 21-yard to Dallas Baker with 6:30 to go.

Two weeks later the Gators staged another double-digit comeback, this one at home against Alabama after falling behind 10-0. Again, it was Leak providing some heroics in the closing minutes. And again on a 21-yard TD pass to Baker. That one came with 6:47 to go. Safety Reggie Nelson iced it by intercepting John Parker Wilson and returning it 70 yards for a touchdown with 4:37 left for a 28-13 win in that national-championship season.


Senior running back Mike Gillislee made headlines in July at SEC Football Media Days when he told reporters his goal was to rush for 1,500 yards and 24 touchdowns his senior season.

Gillislee managed 83 yards on 14 carries Saturday, a week after running for a career-high 148 yards against Bowling Green. He'll have to pick up pace on the yardage but with two more touchdowns Saturday, Gillislee can at least say he's on pace to reach his TD goal.

Gillislee's 12-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter put the Gators up for good.

"Great run. Hunter Joyer made a great block on it,'' Muschamp said. "Brent Pease really thought he could get the edges on these guys a little bit. They were feast or famine a little bit with the running game.

"They were trying to hit us on some things and we were able to crease them. No question with Mike, he's a good football player.


After Gillislee, UF’s leading rusher was junior wideout Solomon Patton, who took three handoffs on motion end-around plays in the second half for runs of 13, 6 and 12 yards. Of those three carries, two went for first downs, including the latter 12-yarder that was the third play of an 8-play, 50-yard drive that began with 3:13 in the game and ended with UF celebrating a huge win on the Aggies' home turf.

The best part of Patton’s last run? After he gained the necessary first-down yardage, he didn’t fight for extra. Patton was near the sideline and helped A&M defenders by taking himself to the ground, keeping the clock running.

In two games, Patton has run that quick-handoff end-around play four times for 37 yards, making him the second-leading rusher on the team.


Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis added to his collection of field goals from more than 50 yards on Saturday. Sturgis' 51-yard kick late in the second quarter trimmed Texas A&M's lead to 17-10.

Sturgis now has seven career field goals from 50 or more yards, including two in two games this season. Sturgis also had a 51-yard field goal in the season opener.

On Saturday, Sturgis' first attempt hit the right upright. However, he got a second chance when officials ruled the Aggies called a timeout before the kick. Once play resumed, Sturgis nailed the kick down the middle.


"Let’s give them credit. They did a good job. Certainly the quarterback running early on really hurt us. In the second half, where we came back, one of the good things in the locker room was there wasn’t any finger pointing. That was good. Real good. That's what a mature group does. We lost some close games last year. I think knowing that was handled, that was a big thing for us." -- Gators defensive coordinator Dan Quinn


Gators cornerback Jeremy Brown played for the first time since the 2011 Outback Bowl. Brown made an appearance in the second quarter on the punt-block team, wearing No. 18 ... The Gators have now won there last eight SEC openers. … Florida improved to 22-11 when they play on ESPN's "College GameDay." The Gators get a chance to make it 23-11 on Saturday in Knoxville. Saturday's game was Florida's first appearance on the program since the 2009 SEC Championship Game against Alabama.


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