As I sit here on Wednesday afternoon just days before heading to Jacksonville to cover Florida-Georgia, I can’t help but to notice no one is giving the Florida Gators a chance to win.
I don’t blame you for having your doubts about this team right now, I’m here to say that when the ball is kicked off Saturday at 3:30, mine, yours or anyone else’s opinion doesn’t matter as long as the 85 players in Florida uniforms believe.
I’m often reminded of the great Paul “Bear” Bryant and some of the famous quotes he has credited to his name and I found one that describes what Saturday has to be about for the Florida Gators players.
“If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride – and never quit – you’ll be a winner,” Bryant said before one game. “The price of victory is high but so are the rewards.”
That reward on Saturday would be for the Gators to snap a three-game losing streak against the Georgia Bulldogs and let the seniors go out with a win in one of the biggest rivalries in the SEC.
The biggest questions most of us have are if these players can put aside all of the talk about Will Muschamp’s job security and whether or not this team has quit on itself and can they hang with a Georgia, who is on a tear? Those are things the 85 players will have to ask themselves before they walk out of the locker room on Saturday afternoon.
Now I can’t answer the questions for these guys, or play for them, but my advice to them is to simply go out there and play for the name on the back of their jerseys and the school on the front. What they do on Saturday will be a reflection on what kind of character they have. A lot of eyes will be on them; playing as a team is a must.
“People who are in it for their own good are individualists,” Coach Bryant once said. “They don’t share the same heartbeat that makes a team so great. A great unit, whether it be football or any organization, shares the same heartbeat.”
Playing as a team behind freshman quarterback Treon Harris is going to be key because he’s going to need leaders like Max Garcia, Matt Jones and even his predecessor Jeff Driskel to help him manage the game and work his way through a tough Georgia defense.
Now Harris and the offense will probably struggle some to start the game, but the Gators will rely on that stingy defense that we’ve seen throughout the Will Muschamp tenure to keep the Gators close in the second half.
Getting to the second half in a close game is exactly what Florida has to be hoping for and once they get there it has to be all about playing out of your mind and doing what it takes to make the play, whether that’s a block, a catch or simply advice from someone on the sideline.
Whether you like Will Muschamp and his staff or not shouldn’t be the question on Saturday. That doesn’t matter right now. What matters is this is a defining moment for this team and as a Gator fan your biggest question should be whether to wear the blue shirt or the orange. The players will take care of the rest.