The Florida Gators haven’t had a typical schedule in 2019. There was the week 0 game against Miami, something Dan Mullen equated to almost a jamboree or a bowl game before the season, then a bye week before an FCS opponent. Kentucky kicked off the SEC schedule before Tennessee and another FCS foe. Then the Gators played back-to-back top-10 teams from the SEC West.
Through that peculiar start to the season, Florida managed a 6-1 record, which anyone would have happily accepted at the start of the season. Coming off of a loss at LSU the Gators are taking a new approach to the final five games, which includes four games against SEC East opponents.
“It is the important part of our season, Coach Mullen mentioned that (Monday) morning,” Zach Carter said. “We’ve got 4 big East games left to go win the conference, so I think it is a reset.”
Losses are going to happen. Florida has been playing football for more than a century and they’ve never had an undefeated season. How you react to losses and what you do after them is what is important. Last year Florida didn’t handle its loss to Georgia the right way and let that affect how they prepared and played against Missouri, turning one loss into two.
“We’re going to find out,” Mullen said when asked how his team will handle a loss to LSU. “I mean, because after the Missouri loss we won 10 in a row, a New Year’s Six bowl and beat three of our rivals, two Top 10 victories. So which one, if you ask, we’ve got to see which one; I know which one I want to show up. I know how my attitude’s going to be toward the week. Let’s hopefully it’s the second one within our team, kind of responding in a big way to that loss and how they responded to adversity and not the first one, where I don’t think we handled it very well.”
The Gators’ goal every season is, first, to win the SEC East and go to Atlanta. All of that is still ahead of them. If Florida wins its next four games the Gators will pack their bags and head back to the SEC Championship game.
The task this week is more difficult than it would have appeared a month ago. Will Muschamp’s Gamecocks started the season 1-3 but have back-to-back SEC East wins over Kentucky and a shocking win over Georgia last weekend.
The team learned the pitfalls of letting one loss affect their preparation and Josh Hammond, along with the other seniors are keeping the team focused on this week ahead.
“We have these four SEC East games coming up,” Hammond said. “We gotta be prepared to go execute. All these teams we’re gonna play are great football teams. They’re wanting the same thing we want so it’s gonna start with practice and how we go execute today and continue to follow through for the next week and the weeks after.”