GAINESVILLE — Florida has suffered back-to-back losses for the first time since 2007, its offense continues to struggle and injuries are mounting, but coach Urban Meyer said there is still plenty to play for and it's not time to panic.
"We're fine," Meyer said during his postgame show. "The key is we have to get better. To start worrying about things far off in the future, we're still right in the middle of the season halfway home. We just have to take care of business this week."
Florida (4-2, 2-2 SEC), which fell to No. 22 in the Associated Press and the coaches polls, hosts Mississippi State at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Last season at this time, the Gators were on their way to clinching the SEC East title by the end of October. It won't be like that this time around.
Florida's goal of reaching the SEC Championship Game remains a possibility, but there is little margin of error. If UF wins its remaining conference games against Mississippi State, Georgia and Vanderbilt, the Gators could be playing South Carolina and former coach Steve Spurrier on Nov. 13 at home for the right to advance to the championship game.
"Last year was kind of a unique situation where we won straight through, and the East struggled, so that was over rather quickly," Meyer said. "But we're right in the middle of this thing. Everybody is right in the middle of it. History shows in the SEC just the last team who is standing healthy and playing well is going to take care of it."
INJURY WOES: The injury list continues to grow.
QB John Brantley injured his hand Saturday against LSU to go with the bruised ribs he suffered against Alabama. RB Jeff Demps didn't play Saturday due to the sprained left foot that has hampered him since the Tennessee game. Other injuries from the LSU game: senior WR Deonte Thompson was injured after a 7-yard reception, was helped off with 11:04 left to play and did not return; freshman S Matt Elam suffered a concussion with 2:28 remaining in the first quarter; and former St. Petersburg Catholic OL Jon Halapio left in the second quarter with a reported compound fracture.
Meyer and Brantley each said there was never any doubt the quarterback would play.
"John Brantley is a tough nut, he's always been a tough nut," Meyer said. "He's battling through a rib injury and then also he has a hand injury as well. He didn't practice much on Thursday."
NOTable: Florida has picked off a pass in 29 or its past 34 games, and six different Gators have accounted for Florida's 13 INTs. … Trey Burton is third all time in UF freshman touchdowns in a season (nine) behind Jabar Gaffney (14) and Emmitt Smith (13). He is second in freshman rushing touchdowns in a season (eight) behind Smith (13).
Antonya English can be reached at email@example.com.