The 2013 football season that has been spiraling out of control for more than a month came to a rocky, rocky bottom last Saturday at the hands of Georgia Southern. The Eagles rushed for 429 yards — the fourth most ever surrendered by the University of Florida — and walked away with a 26-20 win. That is indeed rock bottom.
Georgia Southern also became the first team to ever go a game without completing a single pass against the Gators. Four times previous the Gators had surrendered two completions but never before did they get a shutout in that category. Of course, the Eagles only attempted three passes — with two coming after a time out before halftime so they could take a shot at Florida before getting the ball back in the third quarter. Yeah, that’s where Florida football is at right now. A FCS team that runs the triple option called a time out to get the ball back because they figured they could score on Florida before halftime.
Welcome to the 2013 Florida Gators season.
Here are five things that stood out during one of the worst afternoons ever in The Swamp.
Quinton Dunbar keeps on keeping on
In a small silver lining to a miserable season, Dunbar extended his school record of 27 consecutive games with a reception — a record formerly held by Gator great Carlos Alvarez.
Dunbar extended his streak on a third down reception from Skyler Mornhinweg for three yards in the third quarter and finished the day with 3 catches for 37 yards. The redshirt junior is currently second on the team with 37 receptions for 511 yards.
The best story on the team this season …
Is Solomon Patton. Patton is leading the Gators in receptions (39), yards (554), yards-per-reception (14.21) and touchdowns (6). His six scores are tied for seventh best in the SEC and tied for 65th best in the country — the first Gator to rank in the top 66 since Riley Cooper caught nine touchdowns in 2009.
Patton came into his senior season with nine career receptions and no touchdowns. He’s had two games this season with six receptions, two 100-yard performances and added two more scores last Saturday against Georgia Southern.
Patton is having a career year as his swan song at Florida comes to a close next week in Gainesville.
Where was Daniel McMillian?
When Michael Taylor went down with a right knee injury that will likely keep him out of the season finale it appeared to open the door for freshman linebacker Daniel McMillian.
An early enrollee, McMillian was praised by the coaching staff in the spring. McMillian’s redshirt is non-existent because he has spent the entire season participating on special teams but with Taylor down the coaching staff elected to play senior walk-on David Campbell.
Why not use an unfortunate injury as an opportunity to get a linebacker who will be a big part of the defense moving forward some game experience?
Apathy has set in
Making the trek from the press box down to the south end zone meeting room for Will Muschamp’s press conference gives the media a chance to walk through fans as they leave the stadium and head to their favorite watering hole to drown the sorrow of another loss.
Some fans were angry and voicing their opinions about the team or staff as they left the stadium but for the most part fans were silent. There were blank, emotionless and silent faces leaving the stadium on Saturday.
Have fans come to grips with the reality that is the 2013 Florida Gators?
Georgia Southern’s joy after winning
Amid the shock and disgust that filled the stadium after the final whistle blew there was an entirely different emotion from the team in all white.
As Mornhinweg’s final pass hit the dirt (at the six yard line), the Eagles stormed the field, jumping into their teammates arms. A normal reaction for a team that just pulled off an upset. That wasn’t the picture that stood out.
The team circled around their band — yes, Georgia Southern brought their band (something even Vanderbilt didn’t do) — and they sang their alma mater. They didn’t leave the field.
Instead, players hung around on the field. Their hands on their collective heads and hips, trying their hardest to realize the magnitude of what they had just accomplished.
Florida is filled with NFL talent. When the Gators season ends next week it won’t be the last football game for a lot of the seniors and junior Gators. This was, however, the last game for just about every senior on Georgia Southern. The Eagles are in a transition period between FCS and FBS. That means they don’t qualify for the FCS playoffs or a bowl game.
The game against Florida was their season finale and thus, the final game of many of those young men’s’ careers.
What a way to go out for a group of players who didn’t have big D1 scholarship offers from schools like Florida.
As I walked out of Muschamp’s press conference a player stood in the end zone in cargo shorts, a Georgia Southern football shirt and flip-flops. He stood, hands on hips and mouth open, soaking up the moment. A coach walked over to his player, draped an arm over his shoulder and they walked off the field together.
It’s all right to be upset or angry that your team lost but when you take a step back and think about what this game meant to a bunch of football players who were told they’re too small or too slow to play against the big boys, you can’t help but feel good for a team like Georgia Southern.