With all those big scoring plays in the Gators’ 37-20 victory at Tennessee on Saturday night, a lot of key contributions quite naturally went somewhat overlooked. Going back over the overall UF performance, here are some of the quiet performances that contributed greatly to the win:
* Sophomore punter Kyle Christy played a huge role, averaging 48.6 yards a punt and flipping field position with each kick. This is a guy who is really starting to come into his own after he had a so-so true freshman season in 2011. He didn’t really boom a lot of punts last season, but he’s really started launching them this season. Experience seems to have put him in the comfort zone.
* Junior wide receiver Solomon Patton continues to emerge as a key playmaker on offense. He’s not only making big first downs on speed sweeps, he’s starting to develop as a wide receiver. Against the Vols, he rushed for 34 yards on three carries and caught a critical 17-yard pass. His role will continue to expand in the passing game as the offense moves forward with Jeff Driskel. Charlie Weis thought this kid was too small to be a player in the offense. Brent Pease thinks he’s too fast and too talented not to play.
* True freshman Antonio Morrison had a big game stepping in for the injured Jelani Jenkins at outside linebacker. He played fast and physical, recording five tackles, one tackle for loss and one quarterback hurry. The Gators didn’t really miss Jenkins, which is a compliment to Morrison. Morrison is showing all the signs that he has a chance to be a big-time SEC linebacker.
* Junior safety Matt Elam did much more than just intercept a Tyler Bray pass in the second half. He also led the Gators with 10 tackles, had a sack and broke up a pass. He basically made plays all over the field.
* With Chaz Green and Matt Patchan sidelined with injuries, the Gators needed someone to step up big-time at offensive tackle, and that’s just what Kyle Koehne did. He’s one of UF’s most versatile offensive linemen, and that versatility paid off in a big way in this game.
* Wide receiver Quinton Dunbar hasn’t been really flashy yet, but he continues his emergence as a possible playmaker. He caught three passes for 30 yards against the Vols. The wide receivers seem to becoming more involved in the offense as Driskel grows as a quarterback.
* De’Ante Saunders came off a two-game suspension and played well throughout the game in the secondary. With Cody Riggs out with a fractured foot, Saunders’ return was good timing for the Gators.