After a disappointing loss at home to LSU Saturday, the Florida Gators set their sights in one direction: Forward.
Though many of the same questions are still prevalent- secondary issues, quarterback play and the coaching scheme- the team didn’t seem concerned at Monday’s press conference. Despite the loss, and the litany of missed opportunities both on the field and schematically, the road to Atlanta is still open for Florida.
“We didn’t get it done but we still have everything sitting in front of us as far as controlling our destiny and where we want to go and that’s to Atlanta and it starts with Missouri,” head coach Will Muschamp said.
While control of that destiny is difficult with a third place record in the division (2-2), the Gators are one game out from Georgia, who has the lead and will play Florida November 1. Kentucky is in second place and plays LSU, top-ranked Mississippi State and Georgia in the next four weeks. The Gators also hold the tiebreaker over the Wildcats.
For Florida, the next four games are the final SEC opponents they’ll face the rest of the year. Saturday’s opponent Missouri is a representation of the unpredictability of the SEC East teams this season, Florida included.
In Missouri’s last two games, they’ve looked like a team akin to Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Defeating South Carolina, the Tigers had 280 total yards of offense and were 3-for-3 in the red zone, all touchdown scores. The defense had four sacks and six pass break ups. However, in Saturday’s 34-0 loss to Georgia, Missouri had 147 total yards of offense, turning the ball over five times and getting sacked three times. The defense gave up 379 total yards of offense and 25 first downs.
While the Gators’ goal of playing in SEC Championship is still in play, the team is cognizant of the changes that will have to take place in order for that goal to be fathomable. As been customary this season, more will be expected off the productivity from the offense, especially late in games. Florida had a goal line drive late in the fourth that resulted in three points after the offense sputtered out and had a dropped touchdown pass in the end zone.
Despite the mistakes, quarterback Jeff Driskel felt the team had some nice plays in Saturday. The redshirt junior is also still confident in his team’s abilities and will look to work on any issues this week.
“We’re going to stay together, we’re a close-knit group and that’s all we can do. We’re looking forward to another chance to go out and play in The Swamp this weekend.”
Though there may be skeptics towards the possibility of Florida achieving the goals laid out for them, the team is still focused on seizing the East. That push to Atlanta may have hindered by Alabama and LSU, but can be rectified with a win this weekend against Missouri.
“Every year, our goals are to win the East and to beat the teams in the East,” Driskel said. “That’s what we want do. That’s what we’ve done so far this year. If we just put together everything in one game, things are going to start to go our way and we’ll be just fine.”