I’m not exactly sure what happened during Florida’s bye week three weeks ago, but the Gators have come out of it looking and playing a whole lot like last year’s 4-7 team.
Poor quarterback play. Inconsistent on offense. Can’t convert third downs and stay on the field. Can’t produce big, game-changing plays. On defense, too many explosive plays, too many failures on third down, too few turnovers and big plays.
This is exactly what the Gators have become. It’s exactly what they were in the back-to-back blowout losses to Georgia and Missouri.
So, are they going to stay here the rest of the way, stuck in 2017? If they do, the Gators will win only one more game (Idaho) and once again lose to arch-rival Florida State to end the season at 7-5. That record would have looked OK before the start of the season. But not now, not after the 6-1 start that put Florida in the top 10.
The reality is, 7-5 is looking probable right now, based on what the Gators have shown on the field in the past two games.
South Carolina certainly is capable of doing the same things Missouri did last Saturday. The Gamecocks are explosive on offense, solid on defense. The Gators had a tough time competing against that combination in the past two games.
The Florida players say they have refocused this week and are putting in the same tough, physical work in practice that helped turn the season around after the early loss to Kentucky.
We’ll see if that works again, or if it’s just talk now that there’s not a whole lot to play for.
I just have a strong feeling that this team is what it is now — which is a lot like last year’s team. And that’s not good.
Prediction: South Carolina 31, Florida 20.