JACKSONVILLE — The disappointment was evident on the faces of Florida players and coaches as they exited EverBank Field Saturday night. The Gators' hopes of winning an SEC East title ended with a 24-20 loss to rival Georgia, and now they are faced with trying to regroup and salvage what has been a miserable season.
"It's very frustrating," OL Jonotthan Harrison said. "We're killing ourselves, basically. We can perform a lot better than we actually are, it's just executing and finishing."
Two of Florida's three fumbles led to Georgia touchdowns, and QB John Brantley was sacked six times as Florida lost its fourth straight SEC game for the first time since 1979.
"We've got to grow up, and keep making progress," DT Omar Hunter said. "Everybody just needs to grow up a little bit more each and every game, take a step to get better. We've got to learn how to finish games."
Florida coach Will Muschamp said he didn't envision the season like this, but vowed the Gators will work hard to improve.
"I don't really think about losing a whole lot," he said. "But obviously it's happened and we've got to regroup and re-evaluate where we are. We need to move forward. It's disappointing, but believe me there's no one more disappointed or impatient than I am. So we've got to evaluate ourselves, starting with me, then we'll work from there."
INJURY UPDATE: Last week offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said the Gators were as healthy as they've been since preseason, but it turns out, injuries continue to be an issue. K Caleb Sturgis, injured against Auburn, did not play because of his leg strain. Starting RT Chaz Green (Tampa Catholic) injured his ankle midweek and did not play. He was wearing a boot on his right leg as the team arrived. And during the game, CB Cody Riggs injured his wrist and senior starting DE Lerentee McCray sustained a shoulder injury and was in street clothes in the second half. RB Mike Gillislee is still nursing an ankle injury from the Auburn game.
PHILLIPS' DEBUT: He is listed as a freshman walk-on from Gainesville Buchholz High, but on Saturday K Brad Phillips was among the few bright spots for the Gators. Phillips missed his first college field goal of 38 yards with 14:04 remaining in the first quarter, but later made field goals of 43 and 40 yards. He also handled kickoff duties.
"The first kick I was obviously disappointed because nobody wants to miss a 30-some yard field goal," Phillips said. "But the rest of the team was able to pick me up because of it, and from there I was able to perform how I wanted to."
CHANGE OF PACE: Weis called the game from press box — the first time this season he has not been on the sideline. Muschamp said Weis felt he could see the field and manage the game better from up top. Brantley said it took getting used to, but it wasn't a problem. "I had the headset on each time and we were communicating just fine," Brantley said. "It wasn't too difficult. Everything went fine."