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Florida defense gets that rundown feeling

Risky blitzes? Broken tackles? Something helped the Bulldogs pile up 351 yards rushing.

By DEBI JONES

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 1, 2000


STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The 49th-ranked Florida defense proved to be at least a bit overrated after being shredded by the country's 94th-best offense Saturday.

Mississippi State amassed 517 yards during its 47-35 win, including 351 yards on the ground.

"They blocked well and we didn't tackle well," Florida coach Steve Spurrier said. "We're going to try something different, I can assure you that."

Dicenzo Miller rushed for 108 yards in Mississippi State's first three games. Saturday, he rushed for 107 -- in the first half.

Miller led the Bulldogs' with 172 yards rushing and one touchdown. It was the 10th-best effort against the Gators in UF history.

The Gators allowed 3.5 yards a carry in their first four wins but 6.2 against MSU.

"Early in the game, we knew we could run the ball," Miller said. "That was my strongest game -- my vision. I took advantage of some holes the offense opened up. Three hundred and eighty-five yards: We haven't seen that in awhile."

Dontae Walker rushed for 156 yards with one touchdown.

UF could not explain Mississippi State's rushing success.

"There are no excuses," linebacker Daryl Owens said. "We didn't play the way we were coached. We made our coaches look bad today. They were a physical bunch, and they were successful with the run."

Part of the problem could have been the blitzes that produced three sacks. But the sacks would not be enough.

"Sometimes when we blitzed, they were guessing right," linebacker Travis Harris said. "When you blitz, you gamble, and sometimes you gamble right and sometimes you gamble wrong."

For the second straight week, the Gators gave up more than 500 yards of offense.

Defensive coordinator Jon Hoke said the poor performance was a surprise after a good week of practice and that Florida will have to improve in several areas.

"We ran every blitz, and there was movement all day," Hoke said. "Obviously, we couldn't stop the run. Our tackling just isn't getting right."

MSU's running total was the highest against UF since Nebraska ran for 524 in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl.

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