Wake up Gators, plenty still to achieve

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Florida players celebrate after defeating Vanderbilt 37-27 last year in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Back when Kelsey was a little girl, I used to sing this Tom Petty song to her on school mornings.

“And it’s wake up time

Time to open up your eyes

And rise

And shine.”

Now I know that the thought of me singing has you ready to jam darning needles into both ears. Imagine how it traumatized her. 

But it’s a song that has been running through my head all week, because today Florida has another of those noon games. They are pretty common around here (it feels like college football is stacking the schedule with the best games during the sunlight, but that’s another column for another day.)

Florida again has one next week (11 a.m. Central and have I complained yet about how much I hate when we leave Daylight Savings?) and could well have another one the following week against Florida State, assuming the Seminoles haven’t given up football.

But this one is different. 

The Gators are coming off a season-changing loss to Georgia, which rarely results in positive electricity. Dan Mullen has appealed to the Gator Nation to pack the stadium and bring the noise, but this isn’t going to be an Auburn crowd.

It’s going to be a Vandy crowd. Which means the Gators will have to bring their own juice.

And we have no idea how much they have left.

“I’ll be there,” Mullen said this week, which we kind of figured. “Wide awake, fired up, read to play the game.”

Of course, he won’t be playing in the game. And I think it will take more than Petty’s “Wake Up Time” to get these guys going.

Maybe someone walking up and down the halls of the team hotel with a bullhorn playing a Yoko Ono album at 11 and banging garbage lids together  to make sure everyone is awake and ready to go.

Already, Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason revealed that he thinks the noon game is an advantage for the Commodores.

“We really believe playing at noon should work as an advantage for us, because we practice in the mornings,” Mason said on the SEC conference call. “We’re going to be ready to go.”

I’ll concede that it may be an advantage, but it won’t help Vanderbilt win today’s game. The only thing that can help Vandy win this game is Florida.

If the Gators want to feel sorry for themselves, it’s a proven recipe for a stunning upset.

If they look at the Commodores’ 2-6 record and brutally inept stats on both offense and defense and don’t take this game seriously, they could be in trouble.

If they play down to the level of their opponent as they have done several times this season, well, you’re going to be nervous in the fourth quarter.

We’ve already talked about how much there is left to play for this season over these last three games. One of them is a longshot (winning the SEC East), but why not make it tougher on Georgia?

So it’s wake up time.

Time to wake up, secondary. How many times is a receiver going to be wide open 20 yards behind the defense this year?

Time to wake up, running game. Don’t abandon it just because you fall behind.

Time to wake up, special teams. I know there is a blocked punt or a long return in there somewhere.

Time to wake up, Kyle Pitts in the second half.

It’s as good a day as any for this team to wipe the sleep out of its eyes and bring down the cheers. You want to sleepwalk through this? Good luck.

Spike your coffee with Red Bull, slap yourselves in the face, pinch your teammates on the arm, crank your headphones on louder than normal.

Whatever it takes to make sure you are bright-eyed and excited like it was Christmas morning.

“Time to open up your eyes

And rise

And shine.”

Otherwise, you may be facing a third loss in four games and that’s never a good thing. 

Worse, Mullen may ask me to sing you awake next week.

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

2 COMMENTS

  1. The 4th quarter of the UGA game provides a model for how to start this game.

    Script the first 25 or so plays and practice them like crazy. Then, start with a controlled passing game that puts together a couple of long drives that end in scores, get the crowd into the game and drive Vandy out of it… early!

    GO GATORS!!!

  2. Amen StL. I will bring a noise maker if I have to. I get to the stadium right after it opens on noon games. The Gators need to play like their life depends on it these last three games. No doubt Vandy is sitting there thinking that the Gators have only beaten one ranked team this year and after Vandy knocked off Missouri, they think they have a chance. The Gators need to show them early that they don’t. This is The Swamp and these are The Gators. National championships, Heisman trophies, etc. The Gators are ready to play and ready to play mean and angry. Dominate and send us fans home smiling and cheering. Go Gators!