Senior offensive lineman and Georgia native Max Garcia walked to the podium on Monday afternoon and gave Georgia the playbook.
“Last year against South Carolina when we had Skyler [Mornhinweg] in there we said we were going to run the ball until the wheels fell off,” he said. “If we have to do the same thing this year against every team then that’s what we’re going to do.”
The Gators ran but the wheels never fell off.
Florida’s 418 rushing yards were the fifth most ever surrendered by a University of Georgia football team. Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor both had career highs (197 yards for Taylor, 192 for Jones) and the Gators ran the ball on their final 28-plays en route to a 38-20 win over Georgia.
“I feel like we’ve got, me and Matt Jones, we’re the top backs in the SEC,” Taylor said after a career night.
Jones and Taylor combined for a school-record 389 rushing yards and the 418 rushing yards that Florida gained against Georgia are the most under a Will Muschamp coached team.
Florida knew this would be the gameplan for two weeks. When Treon Harris was named the starter, Florida knew that they would need to protect their freshman quarterback in what would be the most raucous atmosphere he’s ever faced.
Will Muschamp said he went to the offensive line meeting room this week and turned his attention to D.J. Humphries, “You played in the game as a freshman, do you remember what it felt like?” He asked his starting left tackle. “Now imagine you were playing quarterback.”
The offensive line took the onus on their shoulders this week to protect the quarterback. With the Gators only attempting six passes in the game, protecting the quarterback didn’t come in the form of pass pro, rather getting a push so that the running game would be the only weapon the Gators needed all game.
“We were pretty much left with no option but to run the ball,” senior center Max Garcia said. “I felt like, as an offensive line, we had to put the game on our hands and stick to the gameplan, not shy away, not get nervous or anxious. We went in there with a gameplan and we executed.”
Florida’s only option, according to Garcia, turned out to be the only one they needed. After playing their worst game of the season against Missouri, the offensive opened up running lanes wide enough for the team bus to drive through and the backs had a field day.
“I was like, ‘is this real’? If y’all are gonna keep giving me that I’ll keep gashing their ass,” Taylor said. “Our offensive linemen, those guys did great. I can’t credit those guys enough.”
Florida came into the game with a simple plan; run the football until the wheels fall of. The wheels didn’t and this formula may just carry them the rest of the way this season.
All week leading up to this game the players said that playing Georgia was personal. What’s more personal than running the ball 60 times to just six passes. It’s an offensive lineman’s dream.
“Love the contact. I love to drive people against their will,” Garcia said. “As offensive linemen you have to do that. When I do that and put someone on their back that’s the best feeling in the world, just knowing I can overpower a man like that.”
Florida piled up rushing yards and literally ran the fans in red right out of the stadium. It was a sight to behold and one that the team noticed, savored and enjoyed watching from the opposite sideline.
“You see the red sea turning into turquoise, out there with those seats. I enjoyed seeing that,” said Garcia. “Sometimes you need something to look at when you’re on the sideline and just seeing that; it’s a real nice sight seeing that their fans are leaving.”
“I’m so proud of Gator Nation for sticking behind us and sticking with us throughout the whole game also. Being able to celebrate it with the fans, that’s something I’ll never forget.”