Dooley: Statement Saturday
Published: Friday, October 5, 2012 at 8:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 5, 2012 at 8:24 p.m.
Welcome to Statement Saturday.
We usually have one of these early in the college football season, a day that will change what you think of the landscape. So many big games, so many defining moments.
Certainly, statements will be made here in Gainesville on Saturday.
LSU wants to make a statement.
The Tigers want to show that the stumbles of the last two weeks were simply speed bumps on the way to the big showdown against Alabama. The Tigers want to show that all of the injuries haven't slowed them down. They want to show that they are still an elite team that is a national title contender.
Florida wants to make a statement.
The Gators want to show they can win a big game against a top-10 opponent. They want to show that they haven't just improved a little, they've improved a lot. They want to show that the 15-11 record of the past two years was an aberration. They want to show that Georgia and South Carolina are going to have to go through this state if they want to win the SEC East.
The Swamp wants to make a statement.
It wants to show it still has teeth, that it can still be a miserable place to take an opponent. It wants to show that the five losses at home in the last two seasons are in the rear-view and that the Dumpster fire has been extinguished.
Zach Mettenberger wants to make a statement.
He wants to show that he's not as bad as he looked against Auburn in his first SEC road game. He wants to show that he can give LSU a solid passing game to go along with its physical running game and suffocating defense.
Jeff Driskel wants to make a statement.
He wants to show that his improvement is trending upward. He wants to show that the wins in College Station and Knoxville were signs of good things to come for Florida football.
Brent Pease wants to make a statement, that his offense will work against an elite defense.
Florida's defense wants to make a statement, that there's more than one great defense on the field.
Of course, not everybody can make a statement. But they all want to try. They all want to be in a game like this because games like this define who you are.
And it's not just here. In Columbia, S.C., two teams will want to show the world that one of them has to be taken seriously when we're talking BCS title game. Aaron Murray wants to make a statement that he's capable of not turning the ball over in a game of this magnitude. Marcus Lattimore wants to show that he's all the way back.
In Austin, Texas, the Longhorns want to show that it's one thing to rack up 70 on Baylor but another thing to score points against a defense that actually rushes the passer. West Virginia wants to show that it is the team to beat in the Big 12.
In Chicago, Notre Dame wants to show its defense is for real. Miami wants to show that it's America's comeback king.
This is one of those days that will leave us talking, no matter who is making the statements.
Because in each of these football stadiums, they will be made.
But it's in Gainesville that the statements matter most to the Gator Nation. It's so much different from a year ago when Florida went to Baton Rouge with an ill-prepared freshman quarterback and no chance.
But how much different?
That's the big question on everybody's mind in the Gator Nation. September showed this team is better. October will show us how much better. Starting with today.
“It counts as one game, doesn't count as any more than that,” Will Muschamp said earlier this week. “We don't put any more hours in this week than we did three weeks ago. I know everybody thinks that we're going to change everything for one game but we're not."
That's been the Muschamp mantra, not to see any game as being more important than any other. But you know that the players are approaching this differently than they did two weeks ago against Kentucky.
This is a chance to prove themselves. A loss doesn't kill the season, but a win changes it.
It's a statement game.
It's a Statement Saturday.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.