Friday, May 25, 2018
Colleges

Florida Gators fans fuel smashmouth style against LSU

GAINESVILLE — Saturday afternoon at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium had the distinct feel of the days when the Gators were winning championships not so long ago.

And even though the 14-6 victory over LSU didn't come with a ton of points, coach Will Muschamp knows the win was significant, not just for the Gators but for getting fans on the bandwagon. Asked if the win changed fans' perceptions of him and whether he's the right guy, Muschamp said the day wasn't about him.

"I don't really worry about me. I've got a bunch of friends out there," he said. "I think it's important for our fans that we come in the Swamp and play well. We need to win at our place. And our fans deserve that. And they haven't really gotten any exciting wins maybe, based on their perception of who is good. I'm very happy for our fans. It was alive in there tonight. There's no question our fans made a difference in that football game, and they energized our football team. We've got the greatest fans in the world, and I mean that. I've been in a bunch of arenas … and (Saturday) was as fine as any I've ever been in. That's a credit to our fans for hanging in there."

For Muschamp, who has consistently said he wants a dominating rushing game and a team that controls both lines of scrimmage, this was that kind of victory.

"That was typical 1980-SEC right there," he said.

JENKINS RETURNS, LEAVES: Junior LB Jelani Jenkins' heralded return from a broken thumb ultimately wasn't what the Gators had hoped for. Jenkins had missed 2½ games and was cleared to play with a cast, but he was injured with 4:04 left in the first half. "It's a hamstring," Muschamp said. "From what I was told by (the training staff), we expect him back in two to three days."

UNSUNG HERO: The Florida defense was outstanding, and senior RB Mike Gillislee had a career-high 34 carries for 146 yards and two 12-yard touchdowns, but the player who might have gone most overlooked was sophomore Kyle Christy. He pinned LSU inside the 10-yard line on three of his four punts in the first half, including a season­long 61-yarder in the first quarter. He also had punts of 51, 53 and 57 yards. He has 15 50-yard punts in his career. His four 50-plus-yarders were a career-high for a single game.

FACING THE MUSIC: LSU's first regular-season loss in 18 games has the Tigers searching for answers.

"There's something different about this team that we need to get fixed in a hurry," RB Spencer Ware said. "That's what we're still trying to figure out."

LSU has scored one touchdown in eight quarters of SEC play. "I think our football team's sick," coach Les Miles said, describing his team's postgame emotions.

SURGERY FOR POWELL: Florida LB Ronald Powell had another knee surgery to repair damage he sustained while rehabilitating several weeks ago. The junior had an ACL injury during spring practice and hoped to return this season, but he will now redshirt.

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