Gators ready to get back at it Saturday night
October 10 does not seem all that long ago.
You've been in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak, have gone through daily testing for the virus, have had two games postponed, lost two weeks of practice and endured days of self-isolation.
This is what the Florida Gators have gone through the past three weeks, so, yeah, that Oct. 10 loss to Texas A&M seems like a long, long time ago. And, yeah, they're jacked up about having the chance to get out there and actually play football again in The Swamp against Missouri on Saturday night.
“It’s just really exciting to finally get back on the field Saturday," quarterback Kyle Trask said. "You sit at home and watch two games straight and you're missing being out there. A lot of our guys are just happy and ready to get back out there.”
Happy and motivated. Because what made the long layoff seem even longer is the fact the Gators had to spend all that time living with that frustrating 41-38 upset loss to Texas A&M on Oct. 10.
It was a big blow for a team that came into the season with its sights on winning the SEC and being a playoff contender.
"I know everybody on the team is itching to play, itching to hit, itching to do everything and prove themselves because we just came off a loss," junior linebacker James Houston IV said. "We’re itching to prove ourselves that we’re still the same Florida Gators. We’re coming for the national championship. We’re coming for the SEC championship.
"(With that loss) you have that little taste in your mouth. That’s the fuel, though. You need that. You need that to keep pushing yourself and have that motivation to keep grinding. It was a very good motivator that we had two weeks to let that marinade and sink into everybody’s head what we’ve got to do and how we’ve got to move forward.”
Moving forward, there will be no more rest, no more scheduled bye weeks. The Gators are staring at seven straight Saturdays of SEC games, starting with Missouri on Saturday night and ending with LSU on Dec. 12 in The Swamp. In between, UF faces Georgia, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Tennessee.
After all that rest, it's grind time for the Gators.
"I kind of like it, honestly," Trask said. "There’s no bye week, so you’re in a straight grind, your routine every single week. there’s going to be no time where we kind of step away. We’re going to be having our foot on the gas pedal every single week, which I think is going to make us play at our highest level and just continue to take that next step each and every week.”
One Gator especially eager to move on is running back Malik Davis, whose fumble late in the fourth quarter at Texas A&M led to the Aggies' winning field goal as time expired.
"When you're out there, you're a competitor, you're looking to make a big play for your team," Davis said. "Then that happens and, of course, it's frustrating. But the most important thing is you have to just move on and keep working.
"I can't let that bring me down. It doesn't take away from what I've done, or it doesn't take away what I can do. I just know I've got to move forward and focus on Missouri."
Who: Missouri (2-2) vs. No. 9 Florida (2-1)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548 - 17,000 reduced)
TV: SEC Network Alternate
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850