Gators motivated to turn things around after 4-8 season
Published: Sunday, August 3, 2014 at 6:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, August 3, 2014 at 8:09 p.m.
With media day Sunday and the official start of practice on Monday, some might say that it's OK now for the Florida Gators to go ahead and forget about their disastrous 4-8 season in 2013. File it all away — all the misery and embarrassment, all the injuries and losses.
The 4-8 season, of course, is one that will live in infamy in the long and rich history of Florida football. And, apparently, it will continue to live in the hearts and minds of the players and coaches.
They don't want to forget. They can't forget. Not yet.
“I'd say it's in the sideview mirror,” said senior linebacker Michael Taylor, when asked Sunday if the 4-8 season was now in the rearview mirror. “You want to have that memory. You want to be able to go back there and know what you did wrong so you can learn from it.
“You get stronger from it. In life and in football, you take your past mistakes and your struggles and your pain and you learn from it. You become a better person, a better man, a better football player.”
The Gators learned many tough life (and football) lessons last fall. One is that when you lose your starting quarterback and a bunch of other starters for the season, it's tough to survive in the rugged SEC. Another is that when you get embarrassed at home by Georgia Southern and end the year on a seven-game losing streak, people aren't going to let you forget.
“You hear about it a lot,” senior fullback Hunter Joyer said. “It's kind of a reminder, and it's motivating, definitely. Anytime you fail in something, there's going to be more motivation the next time you're out there. We're motivated by it.
“It was a nightmare. You never knew what to expect, how things were going to go, which way we were going to go. You stick together as a team and try to get through it. I think we did that extremely well.
“I feel that starting (today) will be the first step toward getting over it and getting ready for a new season.”
The Gators say they have carried the 4-8 season with them throughout the long offseason — through winter conditioning, through spring, through a hot summer of running and lifting.
It came up again Sunday during a team meeting before media day. It was brought up by head coach Will Muschamp, who enters the season on the hot seat over what happened last season.
“It's something you've still got to deal with. It's there,” Muschamp said. “I addressed our team about preparation, about our attitude, about our embracing adversity, about having a competitive edge every day.
“To stick your head in the sand and pretend it was all (caused by) injuries, that's not right. You'll fool yourself if you believe that. We addressed a lot of things in the offseason in moving forward.”
Quarterback Jeff Driskel, who missed the last nine games of the 2013 season after breaking his lower leg against Tennessee, said the Gators can't act like 4-8 never happened, or try to make excuses for it.
“You never really want to talk about it, but at the end of the day, it happened,” he said. “We're not going to shy away from it. We know people are still going to be talking about it.
“But it's a new season. We're just worried about getting better. That's what we're going to do, get better.”
Senior defensive tackle Leon Orr said all those miserable memories from last season have stuck with the Gators — and they are motivated by them.
“It's Florida. You usually don't have those kind of seasons here,” he said. “You use that to build a foundation to make (2014) an extraordinary season, which is something you're used to seeing at Florida.
“Of course, no one wants to always hear people talk about 4-8, but at the same time, it happened. Everybody that I'm around, they're working toward making sure that doesn't happen again at Florida.
“My eagerness is at an all-time high. I can't tell you enough about how much these guys and me are ready to pad up and get ready to really dominate. It's not something you can talk about. It's something that you've got to go do.”
Taylor said the players are now closer to one another having shared the same difficult experiences of a year ago.
“We have a bond, we have a love for each other,” he said. “When you have that, it will show up on the field.
“When we're celebrating together this season, it will be even sweeter when you have that love for the guy next to you.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.