The Florida Gators beat the Alabama Crimson Tide in a game that was closer than it should have been. The Gators scored on the final play of the game to win by one point, but their victory is bittersweet because they were not able to hold onto the lead.
In the ncaa football playoffs Alabama lost to Florida. Despite this, Florida football knows that moral victories aren’t enough.
The Florida Gators football team’s 31-10 victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday was a moral victory.
The ncaa football playoffs is a sport that has been around for over 100 years. The game is played by two teams of 11 players, and the goal of the game is to score more points than your opponent.
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA – Over 90,000 supporters screamed so loudly and stamped so hard inside a crowded Swamp that they became a factor in the game between Alabama and Florida, and it seemed like old times — back when the Gators were the dominating club in the SEC.
Though it’s easy to forget now that Alabama has had a stranglehold on the conference for the last decade, Florida dominated the 1990s and mid-2000s, and the fans at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium frequently created havoc for opponents. Under Steve Spurrier, Florida won 30 consecutive home games and five SEC titles. The Gators have won games even when they were underdogs, like they were on Saturday.
When Florida won two national championships under Urban Meyer, the fans were electrified because the teams they were seeing were electrifying. Being a part of the Florida coaching staff while Spurrier and Meyer were there meant knowing that the Gators had a legitimate opportunity to win a national title every year.
For the last decade, such has not been the case, leading to indifference and disengagement within a devoted fan base. It had been six years since Florida had seen such a large crowd as they did on Saturday. It’s easy to see why it seemed so familiar.
Only one thing was missing: a victory. Even in loss, Florida demonstrated that it is time to quit expecting and celebrating too much.
It’s time to start looking forward to championships once again.
Florida coach Dan Mullen stated, “We’re at a position where we can compete.” “We need to get to a position where we’ll be able to win. There is genuine regret that we did not win the game as anticipated, but we must continue to improve. Right now, everyone is on board with making it happen. When the Swamp is rocking, there’s nothing like game day in the Swamp. Our fan base believes in what we’re doing to create that atmosphere, so we need to restore it to the point where the Gators are contending for championships every year.”
Of course, it is the dilemma. Florida hasn’t won an SEC title in 13 years, but coming back from a double-digit underdog and trailing 21-3 after the first quarter feels better than another blowout. But the truth is that winning a tight game will never be a criterion for Florida. There are still certain rules that must be followed. One of them isn’t a close defeat. Neither of these wins are moral victories.
Development should be recognized, and it would be stupid to ignore Mullen’s four-year progress. The margin with Alabama has narrowed somewhat, but not nearly enough. Under Jim McElwain, Florida was thrashed again in the SEC championship game by the Tide; in the previous two encounters, Florida was defeated by an average of eight points.
The most significant difference is where the Gators are offensively, particularly at quarterback, where Mullen has a proven track record of success. Florida is a far different squad than it was a year ago, when Kyle Trask almost led the Gators to an upset of Alabama in Atlanta.
Florida has proven it can win in a variety of ways, thanks to quarterbacks Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson, strong running backs, and a seasoned offensive line, demonstrating that a coach who understands how to put his players in position to succeed. Last year, Florida threw for 408 yards and ran for 54 yards against Alabama; this year, Florida threw for 195 yards and ran for 245 yards.
Last year, Florida threw for 408 yards and ran for 54 yards against Alabama; this year, Florida threw for 195 yards and ran for 245 yards. Getty Images/James Gilbert
Despite a rocky start to the season, Jones had his finest game against Alabama, and Mullen said that part of it was gaining a feel for calling games with Jones at quarterback. Richardson’s burst of huge plays has astonished everyone this year, prompting concerns about whether he should start; maybe the result would have been different if he had faced Alabama, since he offers such a distinct change of pace.
With Richardson out due to a hamstring injury, Mullen and his teammates obviously felt confident in their game plan. They were on the verge of winning without him. However, the accolades the Gators have gotten for playing Alabama closer than anybody else in their previous two encounters is typically reserved for teams without the history or championship legacy that Florida has.
While the issue may be that Alabama has been so dominating that no other team has been able to keep up, Florida is now in a position under Mullen to start winning games like this one.
Then there’s East Division foe Georgia, whom Florida defeated for the first time under Mullen last season in a game that was widely credited with putting the Gators “over the hump” and back to the SEC title game.
“We’ve reached a stage where we’re able to compete. We need to get to a position where we’ll be able to win. There is genuine regret that we did not win the game as anticipated, but we must continue to improve. Right now, everyone is on board with making it happen.” Dan Mullen is the coach of the Florida Gators.
Closing the gap with Alabama is critical, but surpassing Georgia and regaining Florida’s position as the SEC East’s dominating program is arguably even more critical. The Gators must defeat Georgia in order to earn another chance at the Tide, something Florida really desires. Despite Georgia’s No. 2 ranking, it’s not unreasonable to believe that Florida is close behind them, given on how it handled Alabama. In late October, the proof will be available.
That is why the Gators’ remaining games, which begin Saturday night against Tennessee, are so crucial. To earn that desired rematch with Alabama, Florida has to win out. There will be no humiliating defeats like LSU did last season to stifle development. There will be no repeat of Missouri’s refusal to show up in 2018. People may bring up the Cotton Bowl, but really, Florida played without too much of its squad in that defeat to Oklahoma in December to be held accountable.
Close defeats, in the end, can’t simply be tucked away in a record book. Something useful must be learnt in order for them to lead to sufficient development in order to achieve the final objective.
“I saw a desire from our players in the locker room after the SEC championship game to put themselves back in a position to go back to Atlanta,” Mullen said. “That Monday, the desire to say, “We’re going to address those couple of things,” that attention to detail, the laser focus of players talking and lifting each other up, those are the things I want to see. I’d want to see our players adopt that mentality of working together to create those plays and eliminate the two-point deficit.”
When it comes to Alabama, the problem for Florida is the same as it is for the rest of the SEC (even Georgia!). Mullen, on the other hand, understands what it takes to win a title, unlike virtually every other coach in the SEC. That leaves the most important issue of all: how near is Florida to achieving its goal?
Mullen responds that Florida is closer. Closer isn’t going to be enough for an usually impatient fan base at some time.
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