It only took one week.
From the high of a 47-point victory over Charleston Southern in the opener to the first loss to Kentucky in 31 years, the Florida Gators unearthed the doubts that have plagued this program for several years now. They’re not a bad team, but they’re certainly not as good as they looked against Division I-AA Charleston.
The Gators may have a long way to go.
“We’ve got to be much more physical at the point of attack,” first-year Head Coach Dan Mullen, said after the Kentucky loss. “We have to be more physical up front on the offensive line. (Physical play) is a mindset that takes some time for us. I’m not a very patient person, though.”
And neither are Gator fans, certainly after the embarrassment of last season’s 4-7 debacle under Jim McElwain. No one is used to seeing this kind of mediocre football from the Gators.
They seem to have rushing and receiving weapons galore, but it takes more than that. Start at quarterback where Feleipe Franks looked great in the opener, then just decent in the second game. Perhaps more important is the poor play of the O-Line. When your head coach calls you out after a loss (see above), you better believe you’re not doing the job.
At least in the last few seasons, the Gators could count on a stout defense. But that seems to be history, after allowing 454 points and 27 points to an improving Kentucky squad. Maybe help will arrive this week with the return of starting DL Cece Jefferson, who was suspended for the first two games of the season.
This week, the players seemed to have gotten the message that it pays to be positive when looking ahead to the rest of 2018.
“We need to practice harder and not let this loss sink in,” senior OL Martez Ivey told reporters. “It’s a light to show us we’ve got to go much harder than what we think we’ve been giving.”
“We are going to respond. Trust me, we are going to respond,” junior DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson added. “That loss was hard for us to swallow, but you can’t go into practice thinking about the last game. We’ve got to focus up.”
Coming to Gainesville on Saturday for a 4 p.m. kickoff is Colorado State from the Mountain West. The Rams are 1-2, but coming off a huge home win over another SEC team, Arkansas.
After Colorado State, is the rest of the SEC schedule with mid-season tests against Mississippi State, LSU, and Georgia. Will Mullen find out how resilient this bunch is, or will he realize he’s got a much larger rebuilding job ahead of him?
We’ll all start to get some answers in the next few weeks.