To be the best, Gators gotta beat the best

By Adam Silverstein
September 18, 2014

Faced with one of the toughest schedules in the nation this season, the Florida Gators (2-0, 1-0 SEC) will not be short on obstacles to overcome in 2014.

But before Florida can get to its cross-division rivalry game, annual neutral-site contest with its border rival or season finale against the defending national champions, it has to hit the road and go head-to-head with arguably the best team in college football over the last five seasons, the Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0, 0-0 SEC).

As the home team, the Tide are -14.5 favorites over the Gators as the teams prepare to square off at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. UF, however, does not feel like an underdog entering the contest.

“We’re not really looking at ourselves as underdogs. I mean, we never have,” said sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III this week. “We’re looking at it as Florida against Bama. It’s a big game, we all know it, that’s not a secret. There’s no doubt that those guys are going to play hard and the results will be the results.”

A departure from Urban Meyer’s motivational tactics of emphasizing rivalry games and big-time opponents, head coach Will Muschamp continues to instruct his players to look at each team as a “nameless, faceless” opponent – in order to avoid let downs against teams with less hype or prestige.

Despite UF’s 0-3 record against Georgia and 1-2 record against Florida State under Muschamp, his stance does not seem to have changed even as Florida prepares to go up against his former boss, Nick Saban.

“Nameless, faceless opponent. We’re going to keep the same saying. We’re going to prepare like we do every week, hard and very focused. And we’re not going to take this team lightly,” said sophomore wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood.

Added sophomore defensive back Marcus Maye: “You just know who you’re going up against, but you can’t harp on it too much. You can’t get yourself too psyched about who you’re playing against. We still use [“nameless, faceless”] as our motto, but we’ve got to go out like we do every week and play our game.”

The Gators have expressed renewed confidence in themselves throughout the offseason, and it all appears to stem from how close the players have gotten over the last nine months. For that reason, redshirt senior center Max Garcia explained that Florida is blocking out distractions and maintaining its focus entering the game.

“Like we’ve said from the beginning, ‘We’re all we got and we’re all we need.’ We don’t need anyone else’s opinion or approval. We don’t need anyone else’s confidence in us. We have our confidence in ourselves and this team and this program. That’s just the way it’s going to be. People are writing us off, but that’s just how we want it. We’re going to go in there and compete,” he said.

That does not mean the Gators are not aware of the opportunities they will be presented with on Saturday. Florida has the chance to make a major statement against Alabama, one that could vault them back into the top 25 polls and put the Southeastern Conference on notice.

“Statement game, second SEC game. Our job is to be the No. 1 team in the SEC and win it, so it’s just another ‘W’ we’ve got to get,” said junior defensive end Dante Fowler Jr..

A dominant defensive threat for the Gators through their first two games, Fowler put a perfect bow on Florida’s mindset entering Saturday’s game while (most likely accidentally) paraphrasing 16-time World Heavyweight Champion (and long-time Gators fan), the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.

“Playing against Alabama, you know, they’re considered one of the best. So in order for you to be the best, you gotta beat the best,” Fowler said.


  1. G2 says:

    Theres definitely a chance to win this game, Bama has issues too. If the QB and DB’s don’t lay an egg, we’ll be in it in the 4th quarter.

    • Dave Massey says:

      I agree, this is a winable game. But the O-line and the secondary have to correct the mistakes of last week. Bama is weak at quarterback and O-line so I think the defense will do well against them. They are missing both safeties (one for just a half) and they are a little weak there. I think that might be the difference in the game. Keep turnovers and mistakes down and I expect a close hard fought game that can go either way at the end. Time for the Gators to prove they are better than everyone thinks.

      • gatorboi352 says:

        I wouldn’t necessarily say Bama is ‘weak’ at QB this year. They’ve won at a high percentage for years with little more than game managers at QB; guys that can’t dream of landing starting jobs in the NFL.

  2. MikeIll says:

    Alabama is not weak at QB. Alabama has won games with guys such as Greg McElroy as their starting QB. McElroy was an exclusive game manager and a guy who couldn’t throw in more than 30 yards and probably was the slowest person on their team during his tenure. Blake Sims is way better than him. I see Alabama turning it on this weekend and winning 35-17. UF will struggle to score while eating up the clock with predictable run plays up the middle. And will probably miss a few FGs. Sims will manage the game nicely for Bama and then add some explosive plays on scrambles.

  3. SW FL Joe says:

    Driskel is ranked 76th in the country, 13th in the SEC. Sims is 6th in the country and 2nd in the SEC. Obama is not weak at QB

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