Florida Gators dealing with adversity
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 1:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 1:51 p.m.
After Saturday's 17-9 loss to Georgia, the Florida Gators find themselves in a position they haven't been in for almost 11 months. On the rebound.
What: No. 8 University of Florida (7-1) vs. University of Missouri (4-4).
When: Noon Saturday.
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, aka The Swamp.
TV/Radio: ESPN2, 103.7-FM, AM-850.
Information: www.gatorsports.com or www.gatorzone.com/football.
Losing to the Bulldogs ended the Gators' eight-game winning streak and cost UF a chance to win the SEC's Eastern Division on Saturday. The defeat is damaging, but it has not eliminated the Gators from the division race. They will need help, however.
UF has to defeat Missouri on Saturday and hope that the Bulldogs fall to either Ole Miss this week or Auburn the following week. If that scenario somehow plays out, the Gators would win the division and advance to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.
For any chance of that happening, the Gators have to recover from the humbling loss and move past it this week.
"I told our players at the end, we've handled success well, now we need to handle adversity well," UF coach Will Muschamp said on his television show Sunday. "And our group will. We've got good leadership in that locker room. We've got a bunch of good kids that were hurting last night. We'll recover. We're going to be fine.
"Our effort was outstanding. Our kids played hard. They laid it on the line to win the football game. We came up short. We've got a lot to play for. We've got Missouri coming up on Saturday. We have four games remaining and three at home. We're looking forward to getting back in The Swamp."
Saturday's defeat was the first since UF fell to Florida State 21-7 in last year's regular-season finale.
Including the Gator Bowl win over Ohio State, the Gators were riding an eight-game winning streak going into Saturday's game.
But unlike their performances during the undefeated start this season, the Gators killed themselves with turnovers against Georgia, six in all and four by sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel, who lost two fumbles and threw two interceptions.
"You can't have six turnovers and win the football game, not in the SEC," Muschamp said. "You've got to take care of the football. We put ourselves in too many difficult situations to win the game."
After shutting down the Florida running game early in the game, the Bulldogs brought steady and heavy pressure against Driskel, who was sacked five times and rarely had enough time to go through his progressions and find his receivers.
"We've got to play better around Jeff," Muschamp said. "We need to protect better, get open better, run the ball better.
"Jeff did a good job. We have to continue to manage where we are offensively and continue to progress. We've got to take care of the football."
Georgia is in command of the division race now, but the Gators are still in the hunt. Muschamp reminded his players that there is still a lot to play for, and it begins with Saturday's game against Missouri, which is coming off its first SEC victory, against Kentucky on Saturday.
The Nov. 10 Florida football game against the University of Louisiana-Lafayette is set for a 12:21 p.m. kickoff in The Swamp and will be shown on the SEC Network.
It will be Homecoming weekend.
Florida hosts Missouri at noon this Saturday. It will be carried on ESPN2.
— Special to the Guardian
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