Losing best thing for Florida Gators?
NEW ORLEANS — Everything happens for a reason.
Florida losing 33-23 against Louisville in Wednesday’s Sugar Bowl was the best thing that could have happened to the program.
For starters, let’s flip the script and examine what would have been gained if the Gators headed back to Gainesville victorious.
They would have been the fifth team in school history to win 12 games.
A win may have served as a boost in recruiting, giving coaches the ability to tell prospects they had won a BCS bowl.
It would have sent the seniors, and juniors Sharrif Floyd and Matt Elam, out on a positive note.
They would have finished with a higher ranking, possibly even No. 2 behind the winner of the BCS National Championship between Alabama and Notre Dame.
All of the above would have been awesome feats. However, those are essentially short-term goals other than the part about boosting recruiting.
Long term, losing could benefit the future of the program more than a win.
Instead of riding a wave of confidence into the offseason, players received a wake-up call by losing to a Big East team they were favored to beat by two touchdowns.
With the loss, the Gators now know there is more work to do. They may work even harder in the offseason than they did after last season’s 7-6 mark served as motivation. Strength and conditioning coordinator Jeff Dillman is sure to remind players about the embarrassing season-ending loss on a national stage.
The loss also hammers home the importance of proper preparation as many players, such as senior running back Mike Gillislee, admitted the Cardinals were more prepared than they were for the game.
Had they won, speculation would have run rampant. For instance, if Alabama wins, many would have debated would might have happened had the Tide and the Gators, two 12-1 teams, met in a playoff.
One could even make an argument that Florida was deserving of No. 1 votes. After all, the Gators beat Texas A&M, the team that handed Alabama its lone loss. Of course, the Tide rolled over Georgia, the team that beat UF, in the SEC Championship game.
Remember, Florida had six turnovers, including one inside the 5-yard line with about a minute remaining in regulation, and still had a chance to beat — or at least send the game into overtime with a successful two-point conversion — the Bulldogs in Jacksonville.
It would have been an intriguing debate for sure.
Losing that game also can boost recruiting, depending on how coaches can spin it. What that does is give coaches the ability to tell prospects, “Hey, this is why we need you. You are what we’re missing as you saw against Louisville.”
The way Florida lost also should show the Gators the importance of having an efficient passing game. Only once before, when the Gators drove down the field late against Georgia, had they been forced to pass to try to win a game.
Not every game can be won by playing sound defense and running the ball.
Had the Gators won, they certainly would have even been in the conversation to be among the top teams nationally in the preseason. Hearing how good you are going to be on ESPN for eight straight months during the offseason could have inflated egos.
Heck, even with the loss the Gators likely will be among the top-10 teams in preseason polls heading into 2013.
Florida is losing several stars on defense but has quality replacements returning. There are also several key contributors coming back with big-game experience who should be better such as Jonathan Bullard, Dante Fowler Jr. and Antonio Morrison.
Then on offense, quarterback Jeff Driskel will be a second-year starter. Gillislee will be gone, but the running game could be even better with Matt Jones and Mack Brown returning as well as talented signees Adam Lane and Kelvin Taylor running behind what should be a vastly improved offensive line. Hopefully, a receiver or two will emerge as a consistent threat to give the Gators more balance offensively.
Senior kicker Caleb Sturgis will be tough to replace, but practice reports on Austin Hardin’s ability have been positive. Punter Kyle Christy will be back, so special teams should stay solid.
They’re going to be strong anyway, but didn’t need to hear how awesome 2013 is going to be all spring and summer. The loss serves as a reminder, a wake-up call, they need to get better if they want to achieve their ultimate goal.
Speaking of teams achieving their ultimate goal of winning a national title, several have done it after losing a bowl game the previous season, including two in recent history.
Florida lost 41-35 against Michigan in the 2008 Capital One Bowl and then went on to beat Oklahoma 24-14 to win the BCS Championship the following season.
Alabama lost against Utah in 2009 before winning the BCS Championship the following season.
In other words, if the Gators look at it the right way, losing to Louisville could have been the best thing to happen to the program.
Everything happens for a reason.
12 Comments so far
knew this view would come up, but it’s too soon for me to objectively look at anything besides how horribly awful we looked in all aspects of a football team. abandoning all that got us there. against michigan we were a young team with a brand new defense. don’t remember bama’s situation except that they were heavy favs. anyway, still in shock/mourning over last night. maybe i’ll take a different perspective in the future. thanks for the positive spin
Great stuff, Mike. Yes, yes, and yes. I agree wholeheartedly. I also get what uthater is saying. The initial emotional gut-punch is hard to swallow. We didn’t get the immediate gratification. All Gators are currently suffering from a combination of being pissed, and disappointed. And, in our clear moments we can accept what Mike is saying. Now we have to wait and see if these kids can turn it around and use this as motivation. They just have to! The Gator team got ‘ejected from the game’ by a team that played very disciplined ball. And did it very well. Mike, the Gators do need to get better if they want to achieve their ultimate goal. Go Gators. Here’s to them achieving that goal. Go Gators.
0316-Losing is never a good thing-not from the front end-forward looking; no. But it has to be turned into a good thing and a lesson if you do lose. Once you lose you need to savor that poop-sandwich to know how poorly you showed up. Obviously, heading into a game… losing should be avoided at all costs. But sometimes the other team wants it more. Sometimes they’re just better. Either way there is a lesson, that is, if one chooses to see it. It comes back to humility. After a loss; Embrace humility, get to work, get better. Remember defeat for motivation. Also, can’t turn back time. Acceptance is good too. I accept this tastes nasty. We’re all eatin’ a little humble pie today-fans included. Go Gators.
Thanks for the feedback. As most know, I’m an optimist. I do believe everything happens for a reason and life is all about how you react to things.
Everything happens for a reason? Really? A divine authority ran down the bowl line-up and checked off the winners and losers? I’m being facetious, but I’ll stick to the freewill camp. I do agree, life is about how you react to things. And who you know.
Mike, in re-reading my previous comment
I realize it sounded a bit harsh and maybe a jab at you personally. For the
latter I apologize and assure you that
I did not intend it as personal attack.
Well, we can hope that the positives materialize.
I wonder is this was a wake up call for Champ? Or was he even surprised?
Believe I read somewhere that the Gators went almost exclusively to a zone, presumably because they were concerned about Teddy’s running? Maybe the coaches will learn not over think in the future and will stick with what works.
One area that has to improve is the silly mistakes. Many times this year they overcame those with talent, but at other times they were just critical. The Sugar Bowl was one of those times. Every time I thought they were ready to take control, “BAM” another shot to the foot.
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2014 Football Commits
|Davidson (NC) Day|
|Columbia (SC) Spring Valley|
|Fort Myers (Fla.) Dunbar|
|Cross City (Fla.) Dixie County|
|Jacksonville (Fla). Raines|
|Deland (Fla.) High|
|New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine|
|Miami (Fla.) Central|
|Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas|
2013 Basketball Commits
|Clermont (Fla.) Montverde Academy|
|Bonifay (Fla) Holmes County|
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