Redshirt seniors quarterback John Brantley and running back Chris Rainey have won championships and seen the Florida Gators reach immense success during their five years with the team. Unfortunately for both men, the vast majority of that success came before they were elevated to full-time starting roles.
With Florida posting a losing record in Southeastern Conference (3-5) play for the first time since 1986 and treading just above the Mendoza line at 6-5 overall, the duo have a unique opportunity to leave a lasting impression on Gators fans this Saturday.
Florida will host the Florida State Seminoles in The Swamp, a game that also marks Senior Day for UF’s seven fifth-year seniors and 11 true seniors.
“It’s not going to really hit me until that day comes. I don’t think it’ll be a scary feeling. I’ll just be sad, get over it when that day comes and then get ready for bigger and better things in the future,” said Rainey while looking ahead to the event.
After ending their team’s six-game winning streak against the Seminoles with a 31-7 drubbing a year ago, the Gators have a chance to avenge that loss and partially make up for being 0-5 against ranked opponents including rivals Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina.
“This win will probably override all the losses,” Rainey said. “We ain’t looking at nothing negative. We just got to keep going. There are a lot of games that we should have won but lost. It would be a good thing for us to leave the season with.”
“It would make everything a lot better,” he said. “That’s the one team that is always circled on your schedule each year. Definitely it would make up for it. Having a win over FSU, no matter what your record is or anything, that’s always huge.”
Taking a more conservative approach, Florida head coach Will Muschamp agreed that beating FSU would be a good note to end the season on but added that it does not make up for UF’s failures this year.
“I don’t’ know that it would override the losses,” he said. “Certainly ending [the season] on a positive note against Florida State would be certainly a shot in the arm for us emotionally heading into a bowl game, heading into the offseason and sending the seniors out the right way.”
To prepare for the showdown, Muschamp will have the Gators’ seniors – including Brantley and Rainey – address the team Friday night before the game. They will reminisce on their Florida careers and try and give the team an extra boost to take down an arch rival and end the regular season with a bang.
For their part, Brantley and Rainey have their heads on straight heading into the game and hope to look back on Saturday’s potential victory with pride.
Brantley, a Gators fan growing up, said he has absolutely “no regrets whatsoever” about how his college career has played out and is ready to take down a team he has disliked his whole life in the Seminoles.
The mindset possessed by Rainey is one Muschamp has been trying to get the team to buy into from day one, something that could serve them quite well on Saturday.
“I had a crazy career,” Rainey said on Monday. “All I have to do is just keep my head up, stay focused and keep looking ahead. Everybody is going to have highs and lows, all I have to do is keep being positive.”
An entire team wearing orange and blue will be able to share in that positive feeling if they can pull out a victory on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
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