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November 5, 2011

Maturing process leads to victory



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Florida's four-loss October has been called many things, but after Saturday's slide-snapping victory over Vanderbilt, the Gators had a fairly simple definition of it.

"It was definitely a maturity process," junior linebacker Jon Bostic said.

For four games, Florida played a largely undisciplined brand of football plagued by miscues and penalties. During the skid, the Gators committed a combined 36 penalties for 252 yards in comparison to the 23 penalties for 195 yards committed by their opponents during that time.

"In order for you to learn, you have to go through it, so we did all that," sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley said. "We're just focused on discipline, just being disciplined."

Saturday was a different story. Florida committed just three penalties for 17 yards, and it was Vanderbilt -- 12 for 106 yards -- who had to answer questions about self-control after the game.

The penalty cutback is clearly a good sign for Florida right now, but head coach Will Muschamp was not quick to jump to conclusions that his team is somehow an entirely more mature unit now than it was in October.

"This is one game," he said.

"I'm not ready in one game to be able to wave the flag that we're disciplined now. We need to continue to work on it day in and day out because we haven't been consistent all year."

[CHRISTMAS IS COMING: TIME TO ORDER YOUR GATOR GEAR]

Entering the Vanderbilt game, Florida was the most penalized team in the Southeastern Conference, averaging over 12 more penalty yards per game and committing 21 more penalties than any other team in the league. The Gators' troubles have ranged from an inexperienced secondary to a front seven that can at times have issues with composure.

"Sometimes I can't stop myself," Easley said with a smile when asked about offsides penalties.

Young defensive backs like Marcus Roberson also struggled with pass interference calls throughout the losing streak.

"I know it's been a lot of stuff about us being young and our discipline," sophomore safety Matt Elam said. "Coach Muschamp is very hard on that, trying to make us more disciplined and basically just sticking together is the big thing and being more disciplined and growing up."

Some might say pass interference calls should have been a larger part of Saturday's game. UF cornerback Jaylen Watkins had a questionable no-call on a crucial third-down play in which he pushed Jordan Matthews in the back in the middle of the fourth quarter with Vandy down just 20-14 and driving.

Commodores head coach James Franklin was irate over the call initially but refused comment after the game.

"My job is to coach the team," he said. "I'm going to do my job very, very well. I have these guys prepared every week. The other stuff, I can't control, and I'm going to leave it at that."


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