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Gators focusing on getting better every week

Robbie Andreu
Gator Sports
Florida coach Dan Mullen celebrates Saturday with the Gator fans in the stands at TIAA Bank Field after the Gators beat the Georgia  Bulldogs 44-28  in Jacksonville.

After a big win over an arch-rival at the end of the season, it’s perfectly OK to celebrate for days, weeks, months — maybe even longer. But if one of those wins comes in the middle of the season, the celebration usually is going to be a one-day deal.

 It’s just the way it has to be, at least for the players and coaches.

That’s the situation the Florida Gators are in now. While their fan base is still basking in the afterglow of a crucial 44-28 victory over Georgia, they’re working at and focusing on the next game — Arkansas in The Swamp on Saturday night.

 “We know it was a big win,” junior linebacker Amari Burney said. “We celebrated on Saturday night and Sunday and now it’s time to move on and get better every week so that we can win out the rest of the season.”

 The win over Georgia last Saturday was huge. Not only did it end a three-game losing streak to the Bulldogs, it has put the Gators in command in the SEC East race.

 If they win out, they’re going to Atlanta. Even if they lose one more, they have the tie-breaker edge over Georgia and still likely would make it to the SEC Championship Game.

 The Gators are in command, in control. The last thing they want to do is grow complacent. To avoid that, the goal now is to stay focused and strive to get better every week.

 That’s the message Dan Mullen has been sending to his team this week. And it’s apparently sinking in.

 “We’ve got to get better every week. We can’t get complacent,” Burney said. “We’re going to try to be 1-and-0 every week. It’s hard to win games in the SEC and winning last week was a big deal for us, but now it’s time to move on and try to win all the games from now on.”

 The Gators certainly played well last week, putting together one of their best overall team performances of the season in dismantling Georgia, the No. 5 team in the country at the time.

 But they can play better. They have to play better from here on out, Mullen said.

 “We’ve put ourselves in a good position at the halfway point of the season,” Mullen said. “We still control our own destiny in what we can do and what we want to accomplish this year. But any great team is going to get better from one week to the next.  If you want to be a great team, great teams get better every single week.

 “Great teams don’t peak at the midway point of the season. Great teams peak in early to mid-December, and early to mid-January. Those are your peak moments as a team. For us, that’s got to be our goal and our focus this week. If we don’t improve, last week was really irrelevant.”

 So, the Gators haven’t been celebrating this week. They’ve been grinding away on the practice field, with Arkansas on their minds, not Georgia.

 “If we don’t come out and play harder than we did against Georgia, if we are not more efficient and executing at a higher level on offense, and if we don’t have 11 guys running to the ball and tackling and making sure we’re sound, limiting our mistakes, then we shouldn’t expect to win,” Mullen said. “Great teams get better every week.”

 So, that’s the goal now. Get better every week and hopefully celebrate at the end of the season.

 “We talk all the time, just playing at a high level on a consistent basis, and consistency of performance,” offensive coordinator Brian Johnson said. “Going out there and executing and doing what you’re supposed to do every single play.

 “You never want to peak in the middle of the season. The goal is to be playing your best ball and continue to build throughout the course of the season and execute at a really high level on a consistent basis.”

Saturday

Who: Arkansas (3-3) vs. No. 5 Florida (4-1)

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

TV: ESPN

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

Florida running back Dameon Pierce (27) celebrates his two-yard touchdown run against Georgia with offensive lineman Brett Heggie (61) during the first half Saturday in Jacksonville.