Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida Gators have more at stake than usual against I-AA Furman

GAINESVILLE — There was a time not so long ago when hearing Florida players talk about preparing for Furman as if it was a conference game would clearly be seen as trying to be politically correct.

But for a Gator team that finished with a losing conference record for the first time in 25 years and is struggling in all facets of the game, it's more like an excellent idea because every game is important.

Even when it's Division I-AA Furman in the 11th game of the season.

"Absolutely, we're treating this like a regular team we play," junior safety Josh Evans said. "We're coming in with the same momentum that we would come in for any other team. We're treating them just as if they're Florida State. It's still a football game. We've been struggling, and we're really coming in hungry to win."

Ordinarily, this would be the kind of late-season, filler game teams might use to get some of its younger, lesser-used players some game time.

Strangely enough, it's a huge game for the Gators.

Sitting at 5-5, Florida needs a win against Furman to keep its bowl-eligibility hopes from riding on the outcome of the following week's game against FSU.

"(A bowl game is) very important," quarterback John Brantley said. "It's good for the program, good for the school and everything. And it lets us keep playing ball longer, keep practicing."

It's difficult for the Gators to find themselves in this position, the players keep saying. They are fighting as hard as they can as a team, they insist. If they could just get some of the young players to be more consistent, the story goes, this might all be different.

Even offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said he walked out of Tuesday's practice still convinced this team is better than its record suggests.

"I'm talking to one guy saying, 'That's not a 5-5 team,' " Weis said. "But as one of my old mentors said, 'You are what you are.' We're 5-5 for a reason, because we've been too inconsistent at critical times."

The Paladins are 6-4, but those losses include Coastal Carolina and Elon. Florida coach Will Muschamp said none of that matters. For the Gators, losers of five of their past six, it's about getting back on the field — versus anybody — at this point.

"We get an opportunity to go on the field and play better," Muschamp said. "That's the way I approach it. It's nameless and faceless for me. We go out and look at the schemes and what they do and what matchups are issues and what we've got to do in order to win the football game.

"I don't put an asterisk by certain games and say, 'These are more important than these.' They all count for one. And with our football team right now, we just need to work on Florida —I've said that all season and every week — and work on improving ourselves as a football team and playing well on Saturday."

The Gators have two remaining regular-season games to improve and, perhaps, prove Weis' theory correct.

Said Brantley: "We have to go out there and prove to ourselves, and prove to everyone, that we're getting better and everything's going to work out."

Antonya English can be reached at Follow her coverage at

Florida Gators have more at stake than usual against I-AA Furman 11/16/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 10:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays Tales: The stories behind Corey Dickerson's ascension

    The Heater

    The 25 pounds DH/LF Corey Dickerson lost during the winter through diet and exercise are considered the primary reason for his ascension to one of the American League's most productive hitters, going into the weekend leading in hits, multi-hit games and total bases, and ranked in the top five in average, runs and …

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) connects for a sac fly, scores Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Steve Pearce (28) in the fourth inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
  2. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting


    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  3. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  4. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.