Florida vs. Florida State, Theater of Operations: Gators' offense closes in fourth quarter

Mike Ehrmann

The Florida Gators offense kept their foot on the gas in the fourth quarter against the Florida State Seminoles and it paid off, big time.

By now, we know the stats.

So just for fun, let's talk about the fourth quarter.

Throughout the entire season, the Florida Gators have been a second half football team. That much is undeniable. They did it against Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU and even Louisiana-Lafayette. It's not like wearing down an opponent in the first half (while not piling up the points) and finishing them off in the second half (while usually scoring just enough) came out of nowhere.

But that trend continued against the Florida State Seminoles even though the Gators were outscored 17-0 in the third quarter. The Gators responded with a run of 24 straight points that turned a 20-13 deficit into a 37-20 lead. A lead that would prove insurmountable, even though the Seminoles tacked on a late touchdown that mattered statistically about as much as their total points scored in the Sugar Bowl after the 1996 season did.


Ground and pound!

Let's recapture the magic that was the fourth quarter, shall we?

Play No. 1: Mike Gillislee's 37-yard touchdown run


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Gillislee is going to take the handoff and run right up the middle (to the left side of the offensive line) ... and isn't really even going to be touched.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The Gators do fake the end-around with Omarius Hines, but nobody from the Seminoles' defense is fooled, really, (No. 31 is just doing his job) which doesn't create a lot of open space by default for Gillislee. It's all up to the blocking for the Gators from here on out.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Gillislee is a recipient of at least four great blocks. Hunter Joyer and Jon Halapio are among those who allow him the space needed by taking care of business on their end.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Then of course, speed kills. Touchdown, Florida.

Play No. 2: Jeff Driskel's 14-yard touchdown pass to Quinton Dunbar


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

After this play, the game is pretty much over. If the Seminoles hold the Gators to a field goal attempt here, things could have ended up differently, but that "What if?" game is never really fun to play.

Driskel is going to roll out to his right and Dunbar runs a little crossing route to the sideline just beyond the first down marker.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

As Driskel releases the ball (red circle), look at the window he's got to throw through. There are two Seminole defenders (green circles) in the immediate area and Dunbar does what Gators receivers have done all year: He doesn't really come back to the ball, though in this case his momentum doesn't allow him to.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Tyler Hunter (green circle) makes a last second attempt on the ball, but it's too late. Dunbar has completed the catch and is about to turn for the end zone.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The Seminole defense really doesn't make an attempt to keep Dunbar out of the end zone. I guess with seven minutes to go in a football game in which you are now down a touchdown and a field goal, it's time to quit.

Just imagine if the Gators had quit this year down a touchdown (and a field goal)? Hell, they had every chance in this game. Granted, that hole was only a touchdown edge for the other team and absolutely no momentum for the Gators. On the road.

It's about mental toughness. Not every team has it: the Gators certainly do. Thank you,Will Muschamp, for your comments last year about the team being soft. They definitely took that comment to heart and vowed to change things for the better.

Play No. 3: Matt Jones' 32-yard touchdown run


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

In the same formation as the Gillislee touchdown earlier in the quarter and the exact same play call (though the fake end-around is a little less crisp, because the game is basically over), Jones will get the ball instead of Gillislee.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Quick question before I continue: Has anyone else noticed that these arrows look like spears right through the heart of the Seminole defense? I hadn't until just now.

The exact same play. The exact same result.

It must be a terrible feeling to get burned for a touchdown by the exact same play that you got beat by minutes earlier. Even worse, a back-up running back just provided the final burn.

Once again though, a shout out to Halapio (yellow circle) who is once again leading the way.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The final block was unleashed by Jordan Reed who basically tells that defender: "Nope, not today."

Touchdown, courtesy of Jones.

The Gators' play the entire game, led to quite possibly the greatest individual celebration I've seen in a long time. The Seminoles carry around Gator heads after defeating the Gators and we obviously can't carry around dead Native American (Seminole) Indians, so what to do?

Well, if you're Matt Elam you make snow angels on the logo at midfield.


(Photo courtesy of @l_davis15)

I know this has nothing to do with the offense, but it has to be said. Elam, who has hated Florida State since the second he stepped on campus (if not sooner), finally got the victory over the Seminoles that he so desperately wanted. This picture, makes it all the more awesome.

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