This Friday will mark the end of another football season for the Florida Gators football team. It will mark the end of the college career of Gator greats Vernon Hargreaves, Jonathon Bullard and Antonio Morrison. It will mark the end of the career of highly touted recruits who underachieved and a group of guys who stepped on campus hoping to contribute in some kind of way. A few guys will play their last game by choice. Whatever category they fall in, this is the last time they will don the orange and blue.
These guys have all the motivation before them to come out and play their best, but watching enough college football has taught me that bowl games are hit and miss. Sometimes the matchup is obvious and sometimes, just when you think the matchup should go a certain way, it flips on you.
The Gators enter the Citrus Bowl this week on a two game losing streak and with an offense that has averaged 14 points that last five games. The defense has done all that it could to keep the team together. Since the suspension of now former Gator quarterback Will Grier, things have trended downwards. Despite the outcomes over the last month, in its totality, Florida had a great season. They were able to win the SEC East and return to Atlanta for the first time since 2009.
Come Friday afternoon, we are not sure what to expect from the Gators. They could very well come out and put together a performance that reminds us of the early portion of the season. They could also put together a performance that could further augment the bitter taste that is residing in some fans mouth.
There is one player on this team who would love to have a stellar performance and that’s starting quarterback Treon Harris. He will have another opportunity to prove he can play quarterback at the University of Florida. Most believe his days at quarterback are numbered, as a starter, at least. Many will look to the future with Luke Del Rio, who McElwain had positive things to say about, as well as incoming freshman quarterback Felipe Franks.
Harris will have another chance to do something special with the spotlight on him and this game could even serve as a bit of redemption. Most of the blame for the inept offense has been pointed his direction. Harris will have moments to overcome his last five games where he threw four touchdowns to five interceptions.
While this game against Michigan will be about the last time for some it will be another stepping stone for others. Those others will be the ones to pick up the banner of leadership and Gator tradition. This is another opportunity to put their effort on film and start making noise for the upcoming spring camp. The Gators have some young bright spots on the roster that have a very promising future ahead of them.
And speaking of the future, some Gator and Wolverine fans may be more interested in the game taking place the following day in Orlando. While both teams are preparing for the bowl game, the top high school recruits from across the nation will be preparing for the Under Armour All American Game. We will quickly turn our focus to recruiting and probably over hyping a guy or under selling a guy.
Like recruiting bowl games can be a crap shoot that are surrounded by a lot of uncertainty. Who is going to play? Who is going to be motivated? Will NFL guys dial it down? What changes will be made with extra time to prepare?
Personally, I would be disappointed if the Gators laid an egg and at the same time I would be surprised if they absolutely pummeled Michigan. Momentum is such a weird thing when it comes to establishing a program in college football. It is something that can catch and die in a moment. If the Gators win this game, it could give them more momentum heading into the recruiting season and if they were to lose it will add to the narrative that Florida is not as close to being back as some may think.
With this being the last game for the team, the last college game for some and the last game period for others, it is hard to say how each individual player will approach this game. But at the end of the day when all is said and done, when the Gators close the book on the 2015 season, we are hoping it closes with a happy ending one last time.