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    For senior like Andre Debose, the Birmingham Bowl offers a final opportunity to play for the Gators. / Gator Country photo by David Bowie

Florida Gators
fighting off distractions

Written by Nick de la Torre, December 12, 2014, 0 Comments,
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Distractions are nothing new to the Florida Gators.

Before the season began Vernon Hargreaves, Jeff Driskel and Dante Fowler Jr. fielded questions on Will Muschamp being on the hot seat. As losses piled up, the hot seat talk followed suit and distractions continued to swirl around the locker room and the program.

So when Muschamp was finally fired following a loss to South Carolina, most players knew it was coming. They didn’t like it, but it didn’t catch anyone off guard.

They rallied around their coach and played hard for him the final two games of the season, now, Muschamp is gone. Defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin will coach the bowl game and is assuming all head coaching duties to finish this season off.

Just another distraction.

Add it to the pile that this team has encountered this season. They’re used to it.

“Change is always a difficult thing, but it is a part of life – not just football, but a part of life,” said Durkin. “Our guys are going through the process and responding well to it. I told the team that life does not stop for anyone.”

The last time the Gators went into a bowl game with an interim head coach it was Charlie Strong and the opponent was rival Miami in the Peach Bowl. The Gators came out flat and lost an ugly game 27-10. It was an embarrassing end to a forgetful season but things would get turned around.

Durkin is working tirelessly right now recruiting, but when the team reconvenes for their bowl practices he will be tasked with keeping the players focused and getting them ready to finish the season strong.

“Our guys understand that, and we are going to prepare the right way and get ready to go play,” he said. “It should be a great game, we are looking forward to it and we have a good few weeks of preparation coming up.”

For all of the seniors and many of the juniors, this is the last time they will have the opportunity to put on a Gator uniform. The finality of their collegiate careers will hit them square in the chest, harder than any linebacker or defensive end ever could.

They have one last chance to represent the University of Florida and wear orange and blue. If that doesn’t help them focus and tune out the distractions, nothing will.

Nick de la Torre

About Nick de la Torre

A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC

http://www.gatorcountry.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/florida-gators-wide-receiver-andre-debose-florida-football-2014-eastern-michigan-the-swamp-long-return-celebration-150x150.jpg Nick de la Torre FeatureFootball ,,
Print Friendly

Distractions are nothing new to the Florida Gators.

Before the season began Vernon Hargreaves, Jeff Driskel and Dante Fowler Jr. fielded questions on Will Muschamp being on the hot seat. As losses piled up, the hot seat talk followed suit and distractions continued to swirl around the locker room and the program.

So when Muschamp was finally fired following a loss to South Carolina, most players knew it was coming. They didn’t like it, but it didn’t catch anyone off guard.

They rallied around their coach and played hard for him the final two games of the season, now, Muschamp is gone. Defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin will coach the bowl game and is assuming all head coaching duties to finish this season off.

Just another distraction.

Add it to the pile that this team has encountered this season. They’re used to it.

“Change is always a difficult thing, but it is a part of life – not just football, but a part of life,” said Durkin. “Our guys are going through the process and responding well to it. I told the team that life does not stop for anyone.”

The last time the Gators went into a bowl game with an interim head coach it was Charlie Strong and the opponent was rival Miami in the Peach Bowl. The Gators came out flat and lost an ugly game 27-10. It was an embarrassing end to a forgetful season but things would get turned around.

Durkin is working tirelessly right now recruiting, but when the team reconvenes for their bowl practices he will be tasked with keeping the players focused and getting them ready to finish the season strong.

“Our guys understand that, and we are going to prepare the right way and get ready to go play,” he said. “It should be a great game, we are looking forward to it and we have a good few weeks of preparation coming up.”

For all of the seniors and many of the juniors, this is the last time they will have the opportunity to put on a Gator uniform. The finality of their collegiate careers will hit them square in the chest, harder than any linebacker or defensive end ever could.

They have one last chance to represent the University of Florida and wear orange and blue. If that doesn’t help them focus and tune out the distractions, nothing will.

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