Dooley: Classic trap game for UF


Florida coach Will Muschamp exhales after the game against the LSU Tigers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium last Saturday. Florida defeated LSU 14-6.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, October 12, 2012 at 7:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 12, 2012 at 7:33 p.m.

A week ago we found out just how tough they were. A year after having to give up their milk money to the bullies of college football, Florida's football team went all Clark Kent at the end of “Superman II” on LSU.

(If you never saw the movie, with his powers restored he beats up a bully who had terrorized him when he chose to give up his powers for a tryst with Lois Lane. And, psst, Clark Kent and Superman? Same guy.)

Today in Nashville, in a sold-out stadium that is more Mid-American Conference than SEC, we'll see how tough Florida really is.

Mentally.

Because this is not just a trap game, it's the trap game. It's the poster game for trap games. Other trap games grow up wanting to be this trap game. You look up trap game in the dictionary, aw, you get the point.

It's a piece of iron with jagged teeth ready to spring and snatch off a leg. It's a chunk of cheese that looks harmless enough until your back is broken by heavy metal. It's a pit of despair nicely camouflaged by leaves and limbs.

And trap games are more about how you focus than how many recruiting stars you have.

Florida has been receiving more love this week than Mila Kunis holding a box of puppies. I saw one analysis (I think it was on the Ocho) that projected Florida to go 12-0. The Gators are ranked fourth by the Associated Press. They're back, right?

And here is Vanderbilt, long the SEC's whipping boy. It was supposed to be different this year, but then it was not, especially when the 'Dores were hammered by Georgia. The last time Vandy beat Florida, there was only one “Die Hard” movie. And next week, it's the mighty Gamecocks and the Head Ball Coach coming to town for what could be this month's Game of the Century.

Watch out. It's a trap.

It's a trap that Will Muschamp is well aware of and it's one reason he tries not to make any one game bigger than another. Of course, if you saw his mosh pit dive in the locker room on video, you know how big LSU was for him and the program.

But there are plenty of reasons for this football team not to fall into the trap. For all the love they have received, there has also been skepticism. Former UF quarterback Jesse Palmer said on ESPN this week that Florida is overrated. There have been others in print and cyberspace who have mocked their No. 4 ranking.

It's more than that.

1. All they have to do is look a couple of hours to the west to see what happens when you don't come ready to play. FSU's loss to North Carolina State has to resonate with these players. It had better.

2. All they have to do is flip on the video of last year's 26-21 win over Vandy to understand how close they were to losing that game. The Gators needed a 52-yard run by Jeff Demps late and an onside kick recovery with 1:16 to play to pull out the game.

3. Florida is only a nine-point favorite in Nashville. The fact that they are only expected to win by slightly more than a touchdown should get their attention.

4. Vandy won last week. Despite a disappointing start to the season, the 'Dores went on the road to beat Missouri. OK, the Tigers are struggling in the SEC and lost their quarterback early in the game, but any time you go on the road and win — even against an SEC newbie — it's an accomplishment.

The trap has been set, but this team — one would think -- has worked too hard to let the 5-0 start go to its collective head. You lose to Vandy, it's like LSU never happened.

Trap games are as much a part of college football as marching bands and tailgating. Avoiding those traps make seasons become special.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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