Gators must wait extra week for redemption
Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 7:59 p.m.
Georgia's hangover from losing to a non-conference rival did not last long. Maybe even less than 24 hours. That's because the Bulldogs had to jump right back into another game plan and another game week to get ready for their SEC opener.
Now, after their big win over South Carolina last Saturday, that tough loss to Clemson a week earlier is a tiny speck in their rearview mirror.
Unfortunately for the Florida Gators, their hangover from a bitter loss to arch-rival Miami is going to linger a little bit longer. That's because they have to live with the pain through an open date before they can put it behind them against Tennessee on Sept. 21.
“They'll be fine. We've got a good group of players in there,” UF coach Will Muschamp said. “We've got good character in that locker room. They're hurt, they're disappointed. You lose as a team and you win as a team.
“We'll regroup, we'll move forward. Unfortunately, we have an open week so it will be two weeks before we have an opportunity to get back on the field.”
Muschamp and the Gators would prefer to be playing this week instead of resting. Watching other teams play on television is no way to get over a loss.
But the reality is, the Gators probably need this week off to rest and recuperate before they dive into their physically demanding SEC schedule.
The time off will give a banged-up team a chance to recover.
UF's injury list is long and rather significant.
Starting quarterback Jeff Driskel slightly sprained his knee in the Miami loss and is on crutches this week. He's supposed to be full go by next Monday.
Starting left offensive tackle D.J. Humphries played with a sprained knee last Saturday and had to leave the game in the second half after experiencing pain and discomfort. His status for the start of next week is uncertain.
Starting right offensive tackle Tyler Moore was on crutches after Saturday's game with what appeared to be a potentially serious left ankle sprain. His status also is uncertain for next week.
Starting right guard Jon Halapio, who has been out since the start of camp in August with a partially torn pectoral muscle, is scheduled to return next week after another week of rest.
This will be a long week off living with the UM loss, but maybe it's one the Gators need.
“Again, you'd like to go play tomorrow, to be honest, if you're a competitor,” Muschamp said. “But we certainly need a little time to get these guys back, hopefully get Jon Halapio back. It seems we will for Tennessee.
“We've got to get some guys healthy as we move into the SEC.”
Muschamp said the Gators will work mostly this week on correcting their mistakes before moving to the game plan for Tennessee.
Two offensive priorities this week will be working on efficiency in the red zone and taking care of the football. The Gators had three turnovers — one fumble and two interceptions — in the red zone against Miami that could have cost UF the game.
“We need to go back in the off week and get back to ball security and coming together and playing a little better in those situations (in the red zone).
“We've got to play smart football. You can't throw the ball into traffic in the red zone. You're taking points off the board and creating momentum for the other team.”
Driskel was responsible for three of UF's five turnovers overall. He threw the two interceptions in the red zone and lost a fumble when he was sacked in the fourth quarter, setting up UM's clinching touchdown.
Muschamp said Driskel will be hard on himself this week, but that that's OK.
“Jeff is hard on himself in a good way,” Muschamp said. “Any good competitor I've been around is very hard on themselves. I don't know that he puts any undue pressure on himself. There's a lot of pressure being the quarterback at Florida.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.