It seems that the majority of Gator Nation is somber. After Florida’s first loss this season, many fans and outside observers seem to have a grim view of the Gators. Yes, Florida lost to Tennessee, and yes the win streak ended, but that loss did not end the season. On his weekly television show, Florida head coach Jim McElwain noted that some may be writing off the Gators, or jumping off of the Gators’ bandwagon. As I stated earlier this week, I am still optimistic and hopeful about the other two-thirds of the season that Florida has left to play.
Florida has suffered more than a few losses in recent seasons but this week the mood has seemed particularly subdued. Why is that?
Is it because a somewhat large, and vocal, segment of our fanbase feels entitled to win every game? Past successes can breed high expectations. (We all want the Gators to win every game, obviously. But that’s a rather unrealistic expectation to have.)
Is it because of the tumultuous seasons and inconsistent performances that have plagued the Gators over the last several years? The past few years Florida has turned in some great performances and some decidedly not-so-great ones. The Gators have also dealt with injuries, quarterback changes, and coaching changes that have affected their seasons. Have the frustrations with the Gators’ inconsistent performances, on both sides of the ball, caused some to surrender their hopes?
Is it because the loss exposed weaknesses that some don’t think Florida can fix this season? The secondary was out of sorts against Tennessee, and the results could have been worse had Florida not benefited from several Volunteer receivers getting a case of the dropsies in the first half. The Gators’ offense after halftime was abysmal, totaling negative nine yards after its first six drives of the second half, and only finally getting a first down on their seventh. (Personally, I think Florida has the talent on defense to compete with anyone, and Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmeier have proven that they have the ability to put together a successful offensive game plan.)
Is it because the streak ended? The Gators went 11 glorious years without ever losing to Tennessee. Florida even beat the Vols while changing quarterbacks in 2013 and 2014 (due to injury and due to ineffectiveness, respectively). And last year the Gators pulled off a miracle comeback in the Swamp, but Tennessee was the beneficiary of the come from behind win this year.
Is it because of the way we lost? I already mentioned the secondary issues and the second half offense. Losing a game in which you once held a 21-point lead doesn’t sit well with anyone. The Gators also dealt with special team miscues and terrible field position, in addition to defensive breakdowns and an ineffective, and largely vanilla, second half offense.
What do you think? Why has the mood around Gator Nation been so dispirited since the Tennessee loss? How do you personally feel about the Gators going forward this season?