Three things we learned from the Gators' 14-6 win against LSU:

1. Mike Gillislee is the man.

The first-year starter at running back put together the best game of his four-year career in Gainesville when the Gators needed it most.

With Florida's offense struggling to get anything going against LSU's defense, coaches turned to Gillislee over and over again. The senior from Deland finished with career highs in yards (146), carries (34) and had two touchdowns against the Tigers, who boasted the nation's ninth-ranked rush defense entering the day.

The DeLand native had just 34 yards on 12 rush attempts at halftime, but found his stride after he came out of the UF locker room for the final 30 minutes. He torched LSU for 112 yards on 22 carries and scored both of Florida's touchdowns during the second half.

If Gillislee can run the ball all over Les Miles and the Tigers, he can do it against anybody.

2. Florida has an elite defense.

LSU's mighty defense was the talk entering the game, but Florida's D had the more impressive day.

A season after rushing for 238 yards on the Gators, the Tigers manged just 42 rushing yards and one first down running the ball. LSU was just 1-of-13 on third down and had three plays or fewer on seven of their final 11 drives.

The Gators also had four sacks - they entered the game with just five - and forced three turnovers. The biggest was safety Matt Elam's strip of LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. after a 53-yard gain to end the Tigers' biggest threat of the second half.

Florida's defense is not loaded with NFL talent like LSU's D, but together the Gators have become one of the SEC's top units, along with Alabama, South Carolina and LSU.

3. The Gators continue to evolve in Will Muschamp's image.

Muschamp, a longtime defensive coordinator, wants to instill a hard-nosed style on both sides of the ball at a school long known for speed and finesse on offense, from Steve Spurrier's Fun 'n Gun to Urban Meyer's spread offense.

Against LSU, the Gators struggled to run the ball early but stuck with it and eventually wore down the Tigers.

Florida had 160 rushing yards in the second half, including 112 by Gillislee. "He's a Will Muschamp guy," Muschamp said. "He doesn't say anything, he just does his job."

The Gators were on the other side of a physical beating a season ago against LSU, which had the ball for 24 minutes in the second half of a 30-point win. On Saturday, Florida closed the game with 22 straight running plays.

While it might not be the style of football Gators fans are used to, Muschamp loved every snap.

"That was fun," he said.

 

Email Edgar Thompson at egthompson@orlandosentinel.com. Read the Swamp Things blog at www.orlandosentinel.com/swampthings. Follow our UF coverage on Twitter @osgators.