Gators imploring return of confidence against Colorado State

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After winning 53-6, Florida Gators Florida Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) and rest of the team cheers with the band and fans after the opening game against Charleston Southern on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday. [Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun]

Josh Hammond walked out of the Florida locker room and into the team’s meeting room, where the media waited to ask the junior wide receiver just what went wrong Saturday night in UF’s 27-16 loss to Kentucky.

Rather than declare the team overmatched or under-prepared, Hammond faced the music, saying Florida may have been beaten but the Gators weren’t solemn or looking to hang their heads.

After a historic loss to the Wildcats, Florida’s message throughout the week has been one of optimism and improvement despite the natural feelings of doubt and insecurity that tend to creep in following defeat. The goal is to recapture the momentum and elation felt throughout preseason camp rather than letting an early loss alter the dynamic of the program this season.

“(We need to) just practice harder and let this loss not sink in,” senior offensive lineman Martez Ivey said. “Just it’s a light to show us we’ve got to go much harder than what we think we’ve been giving.”

For a Florida program dragged through the mud for nearly a year regarding the team’s development and preparation under former coach Jim McElwain, it can be reassuring knowing many prospects seemingly have yet to peak due to the previous regime. It’s a message Mullen has reiterated to the man under center, redshirt sophomore quarterback Feleipe Franks, while imploring Franks to play confidently. The idea is that confidence can narrow the gap as he focuses on his gradual improvement.

“Just the experience of getting those reps over and over and making all the different throws,” Mullen said of Franks’ play against Kentucky. “I never saw him rattled or not confident at any part of the game or not thinking we weren’t going to find a way to come back and win the game.”

It’s that piece of the puzzle — the believe the game is still winnable no matter the score — that should help Florida and Franks immediately. That doesn’t mean it’s worked flawlessly throughout the first two games, however.

After Kentucky took a 11-point lead late in the third quarter, the Gators went away from attempting to establish the run game, opting to take several shots downfield with Franks instead. The drive resulted in a one-for-six passing performance from Franks as the Gators didn’t come away with any points, although the field goal was incorrectly ruled a failure, depriving UF of a deserved three points and making it a one-possession game in the process.

Even in a situation where the team felt slighted on the field, maintaining confident play was the message on the sideline during the entire debacle.

“We’re down two scores and have to get in the end zone and then come back and be ready to drive it again,” Hammond said. “We were kind of prepared for it and I think everybody on the sideline was ready for it too. Just ready to compete and go play ball.”

That mindset — go compete no matter the scenario — was sorely missed under the McElwain regime. Yet it’s one thing to preach a confident mindset, and it’s an entirely different beast to execute a positive attitude in the face of adversity. Saturday at 4 p.m. will reveal whether or not the Gators approached the week with the necessary confidence.

“We are going to respond. Trust me, we are going to respond,” junior defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson said. “A lot of guys, we held our heads down (after the loss), tears were shed, but like I said, it’s early in the season. That was hard for us to swallow, but you can’t go into practice thinking about the last game, because it’s going to affect this game. So our guys are going to get out there this week. We’ve got to focus up.”


Saturday

Who: Colorado State (1-2) vs. Florida (1-1)

When: 4 p.m.

Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

TV: SEC Network

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

Tickets: Visit FloridaGators.com. Fans may also call the Gator Ticket Office at 375-4683 or visit it on the west side of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

39 COMMENTS

  1. Ok. But is there a plan to beat Colorado State? What do we need to do? Blitz the QB? Drop 6 in coverage? Give Malik Davis 25 carries? Go with our pass catching tight ends.
    We have a game Saturday. We have the guys we have. Having to talk about champ over and over again is a curse we can only break…by focusing on today. So I’d like to know about the opponent. Their running game. Can they rush the QB. Do they have a good kicker. Now lemmons is gone can we upgrade our kickoff returns? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Those who are frustrated, sorry, work on it, but we need our fans to be solid for the Gators right now. After the season we can talk about staff changes or whatever. But right now let’s focus on this week’s opponent!

  2. I do think we’re playing against an evenly matched team in terms of talent. Not sure if we can match their physicality, we’ll see on Saturday. Hoping to see a highly motivated group of Gators on Saturday.
    Go Gators!

    • jj, if we can’t match or exceed the physicality of that team in particular, it’s later than we think. I with you tho….hope to see some motivation and gumption! Go Gators!

  3. forget the streak. it’s over… moving on… we’re florida, and they are colorado state. we have more elite athletes and its in the swamp. this game should not be close. 10-2 starts now folks …

  4. Stop trying to use Toney for the wildcat with the direct snap going right. That is all he was doing and the defense knew it because I did. Toney should have gotten more touches IMO. Where is the perimeter run off the edge? Franks was rattled Saturday with no doubt!!!When Qb is cussing walking off the field he is rattled and mad. Game over! When is Scarlett going to actually hit the hole with vengeance? The creases were there on several opportunities with cut backs and the Rb’s did not see it or just ran what was told. That is vision and you have to have that as a RB.

    • Pretty sure the lack of touches for Toney were a result of him still working his way out of the dog house coming off suspension. He’ll probably get more touches as he earns Mullen’s respect back. I’d be cursing walking off the field too if I were having to play behind that o-line. Safe to say 100% of quarterbacks would. Doesn’t necessarily mean they’re rattled. He should probably be getting in their faces and cursing at them though instead of doing it to himself as he’s walking off the field.

  5. Agree, DM should be the only one talking, frankly I’d bench any player if they ever guarantee a win again. This team has yet to prove anything let alone the last several years speaks for itself. Let the talking be done on the field and hopefully we see improvement. IMO, DM needs to get some fire under his belly. I remember UM, one of the first practices a player was loafing to get to the next station and Urb went off on him.

    • I don’t have any feelings at all at this point, but I’ll be proud of them if they actually come out with some determination, fire in their bellies, drive, guts, where-with-all, sense of urgency, self pride, mean to an end, purpose, gumption, moxie, or character.

      • Well said and right on Sir ! You have encapsulated the feelings of much of the Gator Nation right now. I can stand losing if I am seeing grit and determination but they are just a better team. What I can’t stand is to watch guys making the same mistakes over and over with what appears to be a lackadaisical attitude.

    • George73. Have you watched a replay of the game and reviewed Ivey’s play on the OL. He was NOT the problem in the game. The Kentucky push came up the middle by mostly attacking the guards and center for Florida. Those three did not communicate well or play very well, often not picking up blitz packages correctly and mostly not sustaining their blocks on both running and passing plays. For example, the big hit on Franks was due to Johnson blocking down and not shifting back to pick up the blitzing LB, which was his primary responsibility on that play. Also, on the last play of the game, Jordan initially pushed the Kentucky rusher (Allen) up filed (which was good), but then did not sustain his assignment (which was bad) and Allen for Kentucky was able to hit Franks arm (causing the final fumble and Kentucky score) when Franks took too long to get rid of the ball. Jordan assumed the pass was off and it was not. Never assume if you are an OL. Sustain until you here the whistle. Jordan did not do that. And those two plays were reflective of the play of the Florida interior line during the game. I personally thought Taylor excelled at RT and Ivey played mostly well at LT. But the three inside OL are not very good and get little push after the snap. Unfortunately, the players behind them are worse right now. Not a good thing.

  6. With all Due Respect TampaGator I don’t agree with you. Ivey is horrible as well as Johnson these guys are playing off natural position and negatively affecting our team. What’s the point of having the Size of these young men if you can’t man up grow some cojones and move the guy in front of you…

    PS I agree with everyone and Tired of empty words. Put Up and Shut Up

    • I’m not an expert but every so called expert I’ve read or listened to did not say Ivey played well. Quite the opposite. Tampa is of course entitled to his opinion but not many “experts” agree with him.

    • I don’t think Tez or CeCe are ever going to live up to the unfair expectations that being a ” 5 star” player out of HS places on them. The truth is that some kids peak at 17-18yo and are dominant in HS, but never develop much beyond that while the really good college players ( and majority of all players ) don’t peak until 20-21yo. Conditioning and development are the keys involved and one has to look no further than CDM’s last team ( Miss St ) to see a group of mid tier recruits for the most part that have been developed into a dangerous team capable of beating pretty much anyone on a given Saturday. If we give him ( CDM ) the time, he will build one here as well IMO..

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