This past Saturday night, and possibly the past month, has not been the ideal way you would prefer to close the season. There were multiple close calls during the month that finally saw the Florida Gators potential playoff run come to an official end. As frustrating as the game against Florida State was, it does not derail what McElwain has started in anyway.
If the fans feel that way, the recruits believe this is just the beginning. Sunday, Florida landed three offensive commits. Explosive JUCO wide receiver Dre Massey, former Miami offensive lineman commit Jawaan Taylor and probably the biggest recruit as far as need is concerned, quarterback Feleipe Franks, who will enroll in January following the Army All-American game.
Following the performance, or lack thereof, by the offense against the Seminoles, infusing this team with some ready-made playmakers is vital. Sometimes we have to give the other team credit for Florida’s struggles offensively, sometimes we can blame coaches and other times we can place the blame on players. What we saw the last four weeks should not take us by surprise, it was pretty much, what many people felt would be the outfit of the Gators this entire season, and that’s what makes this season special, despite the loss.
The regression we saw on offense should not cloud the overall accomplishments of this season. This team will not have time to sulk in a loss. They will be playing 4:00 PM in the Georgia Dome for the SEC Championship. Let that sink in for a second.
Done? Felt good right?
If you don’t like hearing the national media talk about Alabama or how bad they will beat Florida this week, this is probably the week to separate yourself from the TV, Internet and radio. As we approach the SEC Championship this week, for Alabama this could be the beginning of a coronation to another National Championship. For Florida it will be an opportunity to play spoiler and position itself for a bigger bowl appearance. More importantly for the Gators it is another opportunity for growth. Another opportunity to experience football like they haven’t before, it is another opportunity to move the overall program forward.
As far as the future of the program goes, everything is still on track. We have to be careful in our evaluation of the program, and understand that the margin of error for this year’s Gators was very slim and they are fortunate to be in the position they are in today. It does not spell future doom and certainly doesn’t guarantee future success; see Will Muschamp and Brady Hoke. There are still holes on this team that have to be repaired and as they fix those for next year, others will open in other areas.
Florida will arrive in Atlanta this week to compete for a conference title, but please let us understand that Florida has not arrived at the level of play that we have come to love and brag about. Obtaining that type of consistency is very difficult, but I believe Florida has coach in Jim McElwain that can build a championship caliber team year in and year out.
As fans we often jump to conclusions too quickly and allow one moment to erase any perspective that we do have. This is still a fairly young team that is learning every single game, there is no substitute for being able to actually being the situation, regardless if they win or lose. It will take a special effort from Florida to beat Alabama, a lot things would have to go their way to pull of the upset. With that said, regardless of the outcome Saturday afternoon, this team should be celebrated and remembered for laying down a foundation that future Gators can build upon.
It would take a pretty bad game from Florida on Saturday and in a bowl game, to erase the positive memories from this season. This group went from underachievers to SEC East champions. We can put a very critical eye on a lot of areas of the current team, but let’s also see with eyes of appreciation. We will have plenty of time to breakdown every ounce of the roster and the games. Come Saturday night Florida will be looking forward to 2016 and determining what it can do to keep the train moving forward.