Florida Gators bounce back with 52-17 rout of Eastern Washington in rare Sunday game

Listen Now! Can Florida rebound in Neyland against Tennessee? David Whitley will tell us

Tim Walters
The Gainesville Sun
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For Florida Gators fans, the 1990s were a wonderful time.

The school’s then-only Heisman winner, Steve Spurrier, was hired to be the football team’s head coach to start the decade.

The Gators went on to play in back-to-back national championship games, winning the title in 1996. Danny Wuerffel would become the school’s second Heisman Trophy winner.

Spurrier could certainly be prickly, but for Gator fans, he was a like a favorite blanket, always there to keep you safe, warm and happy.

When he left in 2001, Gators fans were wondering if their best days were behind them. Ron Zook brought in top-level talent, but he just couldn't get them to perform up to spec.

But then Urban Meyer came along and won two national titles while leading Tim Tebow to become the school’s third Heisman Trophy winner, making the first decade of the new millennium a soaring success.

Three titles in two decades, what a wonderful time to be alive.

Previous three podcast columns:

Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) sets his line during the first half against the USF Bulls at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, September 17, 2022. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

Once the solar calendar hit 2010, things have't been the same. Over the past 12 years, Will Muschamp and Jim McElwain saw limited success and Dan Mullen didn’t live up to the hype as Florida just never regained its magic.

New head coach Billy Napier has big shoes to fill and high expectations at Florida given it’s been 14 seasons since their last title.

After a poor showing in a close win against USF and a loss to Kentucky over the past two weeks, Gators fans are already getting antsy.

And it could get worse if Florida loses to Tennessee this weekend.

The Gators travel to Neyland Stadium on Saturday where 100,000 hostile fans will await. It’s one of the loudest environments in college football. Florida as an 11-point underdog.

A win would bolster this program while a loss will have fans clamoring after a 2-2 start.

So, does Florida have what it takes to beat Tennessee for the 17th time in 18 years, or will the Gators’ frustrations continue to mount.

To help break down the Tennessee game and other aspects of the Gators, I welcome back David Whitley to “The *State* of Florida Sports Podcast,” powered by the USA TODAY Network.

David and I will discuss Florida’s recent struggles, including what has happened to Anthony Richardson. After one game he looked like a Heisman Trophy candidate, but after the past two performances some are wondering about his longterm viability.

“He is confused and out of sync in that, you know, it's not just him, it's the whole offense. Although it starts with him,” Whitley says on the podcast. "He's still developing when it comes to just the finer points of quarterbacking."

David and I also discuss the running game, and we talk about what has happened to Florida’s defense, a unit that used to see players selected high in the NFL Draft, but has struggled to stop anyone over the past several seasons.

Then, David takes my trivia challenge and learns how Florida got the mascot of the "Gators," and in what year that occurred.

If you’re a fan of the Gators – or you just love college football – be sure to check out this podcast.

Join the tens of thousands that have downloaded us and find out why we give you the best sports breakdowns in the state.

We can be downloaded wherever you listen to podcasts, or simply type in “The *State* of Florida Sports Podcast” into your favorite search engine. We also can be found on any of the 17 USA TODAY-Network Florida websites.

If you like it, you can check out previous shows, which feature current and former professional athletes and coaches, as well as our stable of journalists who cover beats and write columns, all of whom have a tie to the Sunshine State.

Contact Walters at twalters@gannett.com

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