Win has Gators feeling re-booted


Florida Georgia Football
Florida Georgia Football

Florida Gators kicker Chas Henry kicks the game-winning field goal against the Georgia Bulldogs during overtime at EverBank Field on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010. The Gators defeated the Bulldogs 34-31 in overtime.

Matt Stamey/Staff Photographer
Published: Monday, November 1, 2010 at 6:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 at 6:37 p.m.

Just moments after the 34-31 overtime win over Georgia on Saturday, when Urban Meyer said it was his biggest victory at Florida, many assumed Meyer must have just gotten caught up in the emotion of the moment.

Surely, those two national championship game victories were bigger.

After having some time to think on it, Meyer on Monday re-confirmed what he said Saturday night.

"The greatest win," he said. " Of all time. ... History of the game. Absolutely."

Meyer then went on to explain why.

"Big picture why," Meyer said. "Big picture for the most important people, our players. For the second most, our people and staff. ... The karma, eating food that tastes good again. We had a victory meal last night and I have no idea what it was, but it was unbelievable. That's why.

"It was a much-needed victory. And the way they did it. I love when they show Will Hill when he intercepted that ball and ran 87 yards and there were 70 people down in the end zone. We needed that, as opposed to dull.

"My gosh, after a while, it's like beating a dead horse. You know, let's get this thing going, and we did. So we're going."

The 34-31 victory ended a rare three-game Gator losing streak and restored at least two UF traditions — confidence, and the champions' dinner that is served the Sunday night after a victory.

"The food tasted great," senior outside linebacker Brandon Hicks said. "It was a great time, excitement for everyone to know we finally pulled it out. We'd gone three weeks without a win. That's something that never really happens here.

"It's exciting to know we can still keep going on with our season. We still have light and hope in front of us. We're going to keep pushing and pushing and drive to make that successful."

A team that seemed so down (and just about out) only a week ago is bouncing around, almost giddy with confidence and good vibes now. Not only did the Gators find some answers on offense with the unveiling of a no-huddle, up-tempo attack, they're back in control of their own destiny in the SEC East.

If Florida defeats Vanderbilt on Saturday in Nashville and beats South Carolina a week later in The Swamp, the Gators will be heading to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.

"All smiles," senior center Mike Pouncey said of the mood around the program. "We really appreciate the win. We're just going to enjoy a win at Florida. It's been a long time since we enjoyed a win. We're going to enjoy this one until (today).

"I hate to talk about the SEC Championship because if we don't beat Vanderbilt, we won't be there. Hopefully, we've got our confidence back, and this new up-tempo offense is going to help us."

Quarterback John Brantley said there has been a noticeable rise in confidence coming off the win over Georgia.

"It definitely boosted everyone's confidence," he said. "Georgia is a great team. To see us come out with a victory against them is a boost for everyone's confidence.

"It's going to carry over to this week. Everyone is really going to be ready to keep going and practice hard this week and carry it over to Saturday. Everyone around the facility is lot happier. We're ready to get back on the field and keep practicing. It's great to see everyone with their confidence up like that."

It was hard to find much confidence among the Gators during their three-game losing streak. But there was no loss of determination during the hard times, Meyer said.

"It was miserable," Meyer said of the losing streak. "The best time of the day were those two hours (we were practicing). Those other 22 hours were miserable. Those two hours weren't miserable because we had guys that weren't resisting, weren't defiant, and they were working.

"You have to take your hat off to guys like Mike Pouncey, John Brantley, Trey Burton, Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. Just seeing the energy out there. And Deonte (Thompson).

"There is not a shortage of good dudes in this program. There may be a shortage of some other things, but no shortage of that. The 22-hour miserable days were made possible by those two hours of everyone on a mission to get a little better."

The resilient Gators have been rejuvenated by a much-needed victory.

"Obviously, it cures a lot of evils," Meyer said. "It's easy to be a great leader and great person and great worker when you're hoisting that crystal ball. It's somewhat different (when things aren't going well). When you get hit in the mouth, can you come back and go a little harder?

"The guys I mentioned, the champions (from Saturday's win), you can hit them square in the mouth and they're going to come back for more and get a little better. That's kind of cool. That's why we all do what we do."

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