It has not always been pretty, but Florida football keeps finding ways to win

By Michael Phillips
September 19, 2019
It has not always been pretty, but Florida football keeps finding ways to win
Football

Image Credit: Twitter / GatorsFB

In the second halves against their two Power Five opponents so far this season, the No. 9 Florida Gators have outscored Miami and Kentucky a combined 39–14. Neither game entered the second half with the Gators on top, but they didn’t fold and were ultimately able to pull out the comeback victory.

Florida (3-0) has not gotten here with pretty game play, but at the end of the day, that record still has a zero at the end of it.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess, right?” said head coach Dan Mullen while discussing his team’s resiliency at Kentucky. “I thought it was pretty fun, pretty exciting, pretty stressful, pretty aging, pretty everything.”

Mullen is 13-3 in his tenure at Florida with six of those wins (46 percent) coming in games that were decided in the fourth quarter. Like Mullen said, it’s definitely exciting and stressful to play games like that, but they are great learning experiences for the Gators as well. 

 “I think one thing, there’s some confidence in them expecting to win games,” Mullen said. “It’s, ‘Hey, we’ve faced adversity. We’ve been in tough situations. We’ve really worked hard for these moments. I know the offense and defense a little bit better, and I’m comfortable. It’s not like guys waiting for something bad to happen. It’s guys, ‘Hey, give me the opportunity. I’ll make something good happen.’ There’s a little bit of confidence that comes from that.”

One year ago, Florida fell to Kentucky at home. This season, facing the same deficit (21-10), things went differently. The Gators dropped 19 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and stole victory from the Wildcats. 

“That’s one of the big things,” Mullen said. “That game was a mirror image of the game the year before, in a lot of ways. Up until 4 minutes left in the game, it was a mirror image of the game the year before. And the game the year before we couldn’t make a play to win it. This year we could. That’s the biggest difference.”

Florida has not been overly impressive to this point. The Miami game was riddled with issues and neither the defensive nor offensive line won the battle up front against Kentucky. 

Those, among other issues, are certainly concerns. Less so is how these players have reacted in crunch time. They don’t flinch. They learned what it took to win last season and are continuing that trend so far in 2019. 

“Towards the end of the year, we started to grow as a team and really come together and learn how to win those games when things are gritty and things get tight in the fourth quarter and we need to make those plays to win the game,” senior wide receiver Josh Hammond said. “I think we’ve just been able to keep propelling that through this year, and it’s been good for us and we started off 3-0.”

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