UF taking care of business


Florida coach Will Muschamp walks off the field after the game against the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday in Jacksonville.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012 at 3:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 29, 2012 at 3:57 p.m.

At Florida, there is an unwritten rule about how to process each game. After it's over, players and coaches have 24 hours to either celebrate a victory or mourn a loss. That's it. Then it's time to file it away and move on.

The rule takes on added significance this week because the Gators are coming off their first defeat of the season, a painful 17-9 loss to Georgia that cost UF a chance to clinch the SEC's Eastern Division title Saturday.

It's the kind of loss that has a tendency to linger. But the Gators know they can't let that happen. Hanging on to bad memories from the Georgia game could very well mess up the Missouri game — and that likely would end any remaining hope UF has of winning the division.

“So far this year, we've handled wins well,” sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel said. “(Now), we'll have to handle a loss well. We're going to have to bounce back and have a good week of practice and not hang our heads. So far, what we've seen in the building, people aren't hanging their heads.

“We're going to have to bounce back. That's a big loss. Obviously, we were disappointed and our fans were disappointed. You've got to go back to work. At the end of the day, what matters is the game in front of you. We're focusing on Missouri and not looking at the past.”

There's no question, the Gators took the loss to the Bulldogs hard, and the player perhaps at the top of the hurtin' Gator list Saturday night was Driskel, who was responsible for four of Florida's turnovers — two lost fumbles and two interceptions.

If Driskel can forget and move forward — something he was projecting at interviews Monday — his teammates should be able to do the same.

“You treat wins and losses the same because come Monday it's preparation for the next opponent,” senior wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. said. “It's a loss, we dealt with it, made the corrections, went back, looked at it and saw our mistakes. Now, get prepared for Missouri this week.

“We had our position meetings. (The coaches) evaluate it and tell us what we needed to do in order to fix (what went wrong in the Georgia game), and move forward from there.”

Muschamp said the team's resiliency and maturity will be key factors in putting the loss behind the Gators and redirecting their focus on Missouri. To capture the division, the Gators need to win Saturday's game and hope Georgia loses to either Ole Miss or Auburn.

“We've got a mature bunch that's able to refocus and put it behind them,” Muschamp said. “You don't forget the loss. To say that is cliche. I don't want them to forget the loss. I want them to learn from it and use it as motivation.

“But if you can't use it as motivation in a positive way, then you need to forget it. Some guys are like that. We're all created differently and we all handle losing differently.”

To illustrate his point, Muschamp related a story from a few years ago when he was a college defensive coordinator. He said after a loss two top players were laughing and joking after the game.

“I got upset,” Muschamp said. “But they just handled losing differently. I think they were genuinely upset with the game. They'd done everything they could to help us win the game.

“We all handle it differently. The bottom line is you have to refocus and move forward. You can't let it linger.”

As tough as it is to stomach the loss to Georgia, Muschamp said he's confident it will not linger this week.

“You go to the guys within the organization that you know they're going to handle it the right way,” he said. “That's what I'm going to do. That's what I've already done to a certain degree, to make sure the message is the right message and make sure the locker room is the way it needs to be. And it is. I don't have any second thoughts about that.

“This isn't something you do in a week. It's something you do 365 days a year in your program. You deal with adversity and you move forward. It's intrinsic in your program.”

The unwritten 24-hour rule is in full effect this week.


Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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