It’s here, finally it’s here. It’s game week. That’s right, on the day following this work week the Florida Gators will actually play a real football game against a real opponent. I know, it seemed like it would never get here. That was an incredibly long offseason. But it is finally over.
Saturday night the Idaho Vandals come to Gainesville. This is a team that went 1-11 last season giving up over forty points nine times. There should be no question about who will win the game. I know, I remember. This game is all about seeing what this year’s team can do on the field in an actual game, especially the offense. Kurt Roper gets to showcase his offense to the Gator Nation and the rest of the nation Saturday night. It would be hard to find a better opponent for that debut. The Gators should get the opportunity to play everyone on the bench.
I know that many of you will be at the game. If you are show this team some love, they need it. If you are not, this is the kind of game that you should watch with some fellow Gators and revel in the opportunity to enjoy a contest without anxiety or concern. Cook some good food, enjoy some great company and get a look at the future of Gator football. Enjoy this one. The games will become brutal all too soon.
I will not make it down to Gainesville until the Kentucky game. I will watch this game at the lake in Alabama. There will be some pork on the smoker. There will be some ice and lime (among other things) in the blender. I will have the first victory cigar of the season waiting to be smoked (I almost quit cigars last season). Friends and family will gather around the tube at 7:00 (who am I kidding I will have been in front of the TV since ten in the morning) to watch the Gators take the field.
Idaho should provide this team a chance to put last season behind them. The goal Saturday should be to regain some confidence and swagger. And, of course, the goal is to stay healthy. As much as you would like to get the starters out as early as the score allows it is also important to let the starting offense play enough downs to build confidence and continuity. As important as it is to come out of this first game healthy it is just as important to use these early games to prepare this offense for SEC play and that means getting as many game situation reps as possible.
While we learned last year that nothing is a given, the Gators should go into the Alabama game 3-0. From that point on it gets real tough real fast. What I will be looking for Saturday night will be signs that this team can play toe to toe with Alabama, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and FSU. As I said in an earlier piece, this game needs to be an absolute blowout. I will be furious if I see Florida let the air out of the ball in the third quarter, not that I expect the coaching staff to care what I think.
I hope Will Muschamp and his staff understand how important this game is to the psyche of the fans, and I believe to the players. Let the players have some fun. Let the backups get in and run the offense they have been practicing all month and not just run out the clock. Please let these young men build some swagger for the gauntlet that lies ahead. They need to walk off the field Saturday night feeling like they can beat anybody.
And perhaps most important, this game will hopefully put an end to most of the backbiting among the Gator faithful as 2013 officially becomes history and 2014 becomes reality. I hope this game will unite the Gator Nation for a fun ride and a historical season of college football as the playoffs finally arrive. Let’s use the game to put the past in the past and rally around this team, Will Muschamp and his staff. If I may quote Gregg Allman- “please don’t confront me with my failures, I’m aware of them”.