A raucous winning locker room last Saturday quickly fell silent and somber with one question from interim head coach Randy Shannon directed at senior wide receiver Brandon Powell.
“BP, how many times have you beaten FSU?,” Shannon asked.
Powell simply shook his head. He hasn’t, just like every other player in that Florida locker room.
“It really stuck with us when Coach Shannon asked BP how many times he’s beat FSU since he’s been here,” sophomore middle linebacker David Reese said. “He’s 0 of three.”
“We want to get guys like that the win. We know that’s in the back of their minds, we know they want to get it. I feel like that’s a great ending to what’s a rebuilding next year and giving us a great start for next season.”
Florida’s seniors have never experienced a win over the Seminoles. Neither have the juniors or sophomores.
The Seminoles have won four in a row in the rivalry, and have dominated the Gators in The Swamp in the last three games, winning by a combined score of 85-16 .
That last time the Gators beat the Seminoles was in 2012, when Will Muschamp’s team went into Tallahassee and pinned a 37-26 loss on Florida State.
There were three current Gators on that team, but they were not active participants in the win. Defensive end Jordan Sherit, punter Johnny Townsend and safety Nick Washington were redshirting and not on the active roster.
Sherit and Washington will not get their last shot at the Seminoles on Saturday. They are out for the season with injuries.
But Townsend will get one last opportunity, along with a handful of true seniors, including Powell, cornerback Duke Dawson, tight end DeAndre Goolsby and cornerback Joseph Putu.
For those seniors, it’s a huge game. And it will be a huge win if the Gators can pull it off.
“That would mean everything,” Powell said “This game, Florida State, beat them. It would mean everything to me.”
The underclassmen say they’re going to try to do their best to make it happen. They’ll be playing for the seniors on Senior Day in The Swamp.
“Definitely we want to send those guys out on the right note,” sophomore wide receiver Josh Hammond said. “Guys like BP, Duke, all those seniors, Johnny … guys that work hard and come in every day and play their tails off for us. We definitely want to send those guys out on the right note. For us, we have to show our appreciation for them by going out and playing our tails off and having a great game.
“(The seniors) definitely have had a big impact on me growing, especially Brandon. He hosted me on my official when I came and he’s been there for me ever since I’ve been here. So try to send BP out on the right note, and very thankful for him.”
The underclassmen want to win for the seniors. They also want to win for themselves and everyone else in Gator Nation who have endured this disappointing season.
A win over the Seminoles would not salvage the season, but it certainly would make everyone feel better as the program prepares to head into the future with a new head coach.
“I think we’ll go at it the right way,” junior defensive tackle Taven Bryan said. “Especially with the way the team is going. The coaches are pushing us. I think we’ll come out and play the way the Gators should have been playing all year.
“We’re just setting up the future. If these guys keep going the way they’re going, you all aren’t going to have to worry about the Gator team next year, we’re going to play great. We’re taking the stepping stones, you know, baby steps. You can’t be born and just start running. You take a couple of steps, you wobble a little bit. We fell a couple of times. But we’re walking again and we should be jogging soon.”
The Gators could be off and running if they find a way to beat FSU.
Who: Florida State (4-6) vs. Florida (4-6)
When: 12 p.m.
Where: Florida Field
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.