NEW ORLEANS — As he prepares to end a career that sometimes caused him frustration and doubt, Florida RB Mike Gillislee is going out exactly as he had hoped: He will be remembered.
The senior from DeLand ended the regular season as the program's first 1,000-yard rusher since Ciatrick Fason in 2004 (and eighth overall) and will have his picture hung among the other Gator greats.
"It's something I always wanted to do (have his photo on the wall in the running backs' meeting room among 1,000-yard rushers)," Gillislee said Sunday in advance of Wednesday's Sugar Bowl against Louisville. "I want to always be remembered."
His success is no surprise to Louisville defensive coordinator Vance Bedford and RB coach Kenny Carter. Both are former UF assistants, and Carter recruited Gillislee. "When he came on campus, he was a young man, built like an I-back," Bedford said. "At the time at Florida we were running a spread offense, which didn't suit his talents. … They're running an offense that suits him, that's why he has over a thousand yards."
WHAT UNDERDOGS? Florida is a 14-point favorite over Louisville, but the Gators said they have learned throughout the season not to take any opponent for granted. "We've just got to play our game," junior OL Jon Halapio said. "We can't really sleep on Louisville just because they are in the Big East or anything like that. I think they are a really good defense, and it should be a good game."
PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE: Depending on how the game goes, Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said he would like to get backup RBs Matt Jones (Armwood) and Mack Brown playing time. Jones, a freshman, took over in the victory at Florida State after Gillislee was injured and had eight carries for 81 yards and one touchdown.
"They've gotten a lot of reps in the practices that we've had, because Mike's had repetitions all season," Pease said. "He's still got the reps he needed, and we're trying to keep him fresh. And (Jones, Brown) earned some opportunity. Now, we got great trust in Mike and if he's got to be the guy … we'll put him out there. But in the same sense I think Matt did some good things in the Florida State game and really toward the end of the season, Mack as well."
FINAL WORD: "That was a big-time game for Florida. The whole offense was really clicking. Riley Cooper made a ton of plays that game. Hopefully, we can repeat that performance." — UF sophomore QB Jeff Driskel talking about watching on TV when UF routed Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl ending the 2009 season.