December 5, 2009, SEC Championship Game: Florida v.s. Alabama.
The Gators entered the game with a 22-game winning streak. The victory would have put them in the third National Championship game in four years. However, the Gators would lose to the Tide 32-13.
For former Florida Gators safety Ahmad Black, the disappointment of the loss was felt by everyone involved with the program. However, the loss provided a teaching tool the current Gators can apply coming off a big loss to the same program September 20.
“Just like you mess up and you have to play the next play, you have to play the next game,” Black said.
While playing at Florida from 2007-2010, Black was part of the 2008 National Championship team. He also was as a 2010 AP Second-team All-American and the 2011 Outback Bowl Most Valuable Player. During Black’s career, Florida had some the most aggressive and stout defenses in school history, allowing an average of 18 points per game and holding opponents to single digits 15 times.
The 2014 Gators defense is a far cry from those championship teams, but Black said some of the issues can be fixed. The former captain looks for more variety schematically, noting opponents picking up on the repetitive nature on some of the defensive calls.
Black also said he would like to see better communication from the defense, as well as more grit late in games.
“I thought towards the end of the [Alabama] game [they] were just running through tackles,” he said. “It was like we were giving up or something. I know they weren’t giving up, but they’ve got to have that fourth quarter toughness to finish that game.”
Along with toughness, the Gators will need to have more players step up, according to Black. The safety said during Florida’s championship seasons, the team’s ability to have multiple playmakers contribute at different points of the season was key to their success.
Saturday’s games were indicative of the unpredictability of the SEC East this season. Georgia defeated Tennessee in a close contest, while Missouri’s upset over South Carolina gave them the top spot in the division. Even with the loss to Alabama, the Gators are number two in the East, and have a chance to improve upon that record with games against two SEC East opponents in the next three weeks.
Despite the loss to Alabama and the mounting questions surrounding the future of program, Black places an importance on the personnel to remain focused on the games ahead. While the team may have played below expectations, the current Gators are not in this season alone and will need to move past the 2014 loss to Alabama the same way they did in 2009.
“That’s the school I attended, that’s my alumni if they go 0-10 or 10-0,” Black said. “It’s still tough to watch, but they’ve still got all the former players behind them, so don’t think it’s just them because we’ve been there, we know what it’s like.”