Based on how they fought back throughout Saturday’s loss to South Carolina, the Florida Gators showed they’re not ready to quit with two games remaining in what will be a losing season.
Now, they’re asking their fans to hang in there, too, and not give up on them.
“Definitely,” sophomore linebacker David Reese said. “I feel like guys realize we’ve got to come together, we’ve still got a lot to play for, we still want Gator Nation to support us and have our back even though we’re going through this rough time. I feel like our future is still bright. So we just want to go 2-0 these next two games. Just looking forward, we’ve just got to do our best, got to do our best for the program.”
The 28-20 loss to South Carolina was Florida’s fifth in a row and dropped the Gators to 3-6 on the season. Heading into the game, the goal was to win out over the final three games to become bowl eligible.
That isn’t going to happen. The new goal is to go 2-0 over the final two games in The Swamp to send the seniors out the right way and put the young Gators on the right path for the new head coach and for the future.
The fans need to play a role in it, quarterback Feleipe Franks said.
“I’m worried about sending these seniors out the right way,” Franks said. “They work so hard and they don’t deserve to go out there and get two losses. We’re going to fight. And they deserve to go out the right way.
“A big part of it is having our fans out there supporting us. It’s always great when they support us and they’re not head banging us and all that kind of stuff. So it’s really great when they’re supportive and send these seniors out the right way. That’s what I think we’re playing for these last two games.”
In the 45-16 loss to Missouri two weeks ago, it looked like some of the players had given up. It was so obvious that Reese called his teammates out after the game, saying the Gators needed to bond and start playing for one another.
The response was a much more determined effort in the 28-20 loss to the Gamecocks. The Gators fought to the end and had a chance to possibly send the game into overtime in the final minutes before a tipped Franks pass was intercepted with 1:06 to play.
The Gators are vowing to keep fighting against UAB and arch-rival Florida State, which also sports a 3-6 record.
They say there’s still a lot to play for over the next two weeks.
“Just looking forward and trying to finish strong for these seniors, trying to go 2-0 for those guys,” Reese said. “Also our future. I feel like we have a young team and I feel like there’s better things coming in the future. I just want everyone to support us in our last two games in The Swamp. We’re happy to be playing back in the Swamp.”
Franks said the way the Gators hung in there in the loss to South Carolina is an indication that the players are going to continue to fight for the remainder of the season.
“We’ve got a lot to hold our heads high about and a bunch of great players on the team, a bunch of great leaders,” he said. “Ultimately, we didn’t get the outcome that we wanted, but we’re definitely going to finish these two games strong and get prepared for next year. We have a lot to hold our heads high about.
“I’m just going to come back and try to improve every single day. And with a room full of great leaders like we’ve got, I think we’re going to be just fine. We’re going to go out here and be 2-0 in the Swamp. We’ve got the greatest fans in the nation, and they’re just going to come out there and support us. We should be fine.”
Notes: The Gators finish SEC play with a losing record (3-5) for the third time since 2011. … UF is 7-6 when playing against a former head coach since 1999 — 5-5 against Steve Spurrier, 1-1 against Will Muschamp and 1-0 against Gary Darnell. … CJ Henderson’s four interceptions are tied for the most in the nation among all true freshmen, and ranks eighth in the NCAA overall.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.
Who: University of Alabama at Birmingham (7-3) vs. Florida (3-6)
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850