Florida’s 36-17 loss to Georgia put an end to UF’s hopes of winning the SEC Eastern Division, and the team knew it in the immediate aftermath.
After winning six of its first seven contests, Florida would be staying home for the second consecutive season, with Georgia and Kentucky set to battle it out for a spot in the SEC Championship Game this Saturday.
It would have been easy for the Gators to harp on the lost opportunities and lament the failures they had just suffered. It had happened just a year ago, as the loss to Georgia, and subsequent firing of Jim McElwain, in 2017 sent the team reeling, too.
However, the team was able to focus on the few bright spots that emerged in defeat.
“I wanted this one really, really bad. But things didn’t go our way, so I got a couple more games left with my brothers and we’re in The Swamp the next three home games,” senior defensive end Cece Jefferson said. “I’m just going to brush this off, watch this film and just get prepared to go out and attack each week.”
The four weeks remaining on the schedule should see the Gators favored in all contests, although a battle with Missouri is up next, and Florida will prepare to face a team that will also come in looking to redeem a letdown over the weekend.
“We got Homecoming next week going back home, we got three straight in The Swamp coming up, a lot of great things and a lot of football still to play for this team,” UF coach Dan Mullen said. “I want to see our guys attack the week with the right attitude, continue to clean up on the mistakes that we’ve made in the course of the game, and hopefully just continue to grow and be a better football team.”
The Tigers have talent, and the Gators who will hit the field come Saturday seem cognizant of the threat Missouri presents — especially if UF expects to escape Homecoming with an undemanding victory.
“We just got to keep on grinding, keep on working. And on Monday, we got to keep on going,” quarterback Feleipe Franks said. “The most important thing right now is just everybody have a positive attitude towards next week. It’s a quick turnaround, and we have the opportunity to go out there and win a big time game (against) the team that beat us last year.”
The Gators haven’t been driven much by revenge this season, instead focusing on the controllable variables inside the program. But the team seems eager to let the 45-16 loss at Missouri motivate them — ultimately, the focus is on finding enough motivation to carry UF through the final stretch.
“Last year we let Missouri run through us. It was kind of a downhill type of time. We let the rope slip. We just gave up in that season early,” linebacker David Reese said. “So, we just want to show that we’re not the same program, and we’re just building as a team.”