After muddling through a 7-6 season last year, Florida has been relegated to afterthought in the league, at least for now. And don’t think for one moment coach Will Muschamp isn’t hammering that point home to his team.
When the SEC coaches’ preseason votes were released last week, Florida’s lone first-team member was kicker Caleb Sturgis.
“I texted our team, ‘Congratulations to Caleb Sturgis, And the SEC coaches must not think much of the rest of you guys,’ ” Muschamp said Wednesday morning.
Gee, think this might have something to do with that?
… The Gators will have a new quarterback, and speedsters Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey also are gone. The leading returning receiver is tight end Jordan Reed. And the Gators weren’t an offensive juggernaut last season.
In five of its six losses, Florida scored 12 or fewer points. Quarterback John Brantley, Demps and Rainey were slowed by and missed games due to injury. The Gators were minus-12 in turnover margin and outscored 72-22 in the fourth quarters of their eight SEC games.
After two-plus decades of cockiness emanating from Gainesville, this just sounds weird to hear.
“Last year was real tough,” senior running back Mike Gillislee said. “We’ve all got a saying, not the coaches but the players, we’re all saying we’ve got to get Florida back to where they used to be. It used to be that Florida fans, people, expected us to be good. We have to get back to that, get this program back right.”
Florida minus the arrogance? Florida trying to motivate itself by wanting respect? Sounds like the Gator version of fake juice to me. And I can’t help but wonder if this is going to wind up playing into the psychology of the Cocktail Party.