UF dealing with success
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 1:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 1:59 p.m.
This Florida team that was predicted to finish a distant third in the SEC's Eastern Division just a few short months ago is now being mentioned as a legitimate national title contender. This team that was given little or no chance of being able to compete against, much less beat, the elite teams in the SEC is coming off a 14-6 physical domination of one of those elite teams, LSU.
What: No. 4 University of Florida at Vanderbilt University.
When: 6 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville.
TV/Radio: ESPNU, AM 850, 103.7 FM.
Information: Visit www.gatorsports.com or www.gatorzone.com/football.
It has all happened so fast, this stunning, meteoric rise from mediocre to No. 4 in the nation.
So, now the question is: How will the Gators handle their sudden success?
Will they embrace it, be motivated by it and build on it? Or will they fall under its sometimes delusionary spell and become overconfident and complacent — and ripe for an upset at Vanderbilt on Saturday night in Nashville?
"I think we'll be fine," sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel said. "Like we've been saying all along, we have a more mature team this year. We're not going to be satisfied. We know there are definitely corrections to be made and improvements to be made. We're going to handle this week like any other week."
Conventional wisdom says that if No. 3 Florida State can lose at unranked North Carolina State, then there's a chance No. 4 Florida could fall at Vanderbilt. Coming off that big, emotional win against the Tigers, a letdown (conscious or unconscious) could be a real possibility against 2-3 Vanderbilt, a team the Gators hold a 21-game winning streak against.
But UF coach Will Muschamp seems to think his team will be fine, that it will take the same workmanlike approach that it has to every game this season.
"Well, we'll find out Saturday night," he said. "I think our guys have worked hard and I don't see a whole lot of difference in how they approach every day and how they have approached each game so far this year.
"We're not going to put in any more hours as coaches this week than we did a week ago. We're not going to put in any less, either. We'll prepare very similar to what we've done this season as far as what we've got to do to be successful, and that's winning the football game."
Muschamp points to the Gators' experience and maturity.
"Those two words resonate with me throughout our season so far," he said. "This is a group that is a year older and a year more mature. A team that seems to understand that maybe we don't have all the answers, that we need to work and work hard at it."
Robbie Andreu is a Gainesville Sun staff writer.