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The Alligator Army Weekly Open Thread, Vol. LXXIV

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Does a closer-than-the-score-indicates loss to a very good team leave Florida fans thinking two different things?

NCAA Football: Florida at Tennessee
I used this for Fred Johnson’s 74. You know how mad I am that I have no pictures of Jack Youngblood to use?
Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

I am sure I will have many more thoughts about the Florida Gators’ loss to the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday as the week progresses (and especially after I get a chance to watch the game again), and will likely share most of those thoughts with you on this here blog.

But right now, I’m curious about one thing: Are we spending more time thinking about how far removed from Georgia this Florida team is, or thinking about what needs to be done to get to — and/or past — that plateau?

I wonder this because I sincerely think that Georgia’s very much not much better than Florida. Better, sure: Georgia had a defense that could stand up to the pass and had enough depth to survive its injuries, two things that Florida clearly lacks and that left the Gators inferior on this Saturday.

But much better? I don’t buy it.

Georgia would’ve trailed 7-3 early on if Feleipe Franks had been just slightly more accurate on Florida’s opening flea-flicker, and wouldn’t have gotten the touchdown that it got after a fumble on that same drive. Maybe that touchdown settles Franks down such that he doesn’t throw his terrible pick or fail to cover the ball on his disastrous fumble, two mistakes that probably cost Florida points and certainly gave Georgia a field goal, respectively.

A much better Georgia team — like, say, last year’s — buries this Florida team long before the fourth quarter, and probably does a lot more to stop a one-dimensional offense. (Florida averaged 5.0 yards per pass attempt, its worst mark of the season by more than a yard ... and still got 4.6 yards per carry on the ground.) A much better Georgia team’s win by 19 points would be one people would say was more lopsided than the score indicates, not closer.

And it’s progress, in a largely unsatisfying way, that Florida didn’t get beaten by a much better Georgia squad: A team would have to be superb to be much better than this Florida team, it would seem, and I don’t see that team remaining on Florida’s schedule.

But I think that while some Florida fans might be focusing on that today, others may very well be focusing on the material improvements Florida needs to make to beat Georgia and teams on its level.

Plenty of Florida fans are taking this moment to once again castigate and condemn Franks as a player who will never be good enough to lead Florida to true glory. (One wonders how they might have felt had he been incrementally more accurate on that flea-flicker.) Some are doubtless scouring the 247Sports prospect rankings for corners that Florida could add to solidify its 2019 secondary enough that C.J. McWilliams no longer sees the field. Still others — the deep-pocketed fans who can actually influence the program — might be reaching out to Mullen to see what he thinks he needs to rev up recruiting, or assure him that, if finding a place for former Mississippi State recruiting director Tony Hughes on Florida’s staff is a Mullen goal, money would be no object.

In other words, I think most Florida fans are either marveling at where the Gators are just eight games into Mullen’s tenure or wondering how to go higher, if not both.

And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

Which bucket do you fall into? And what’s on your mind on this Monday?