This time, they showed up.
This time, they fought.
This time, they kept things interesting until the final minute.
But the end result was the same as it has been the last four times the Gator football program took the field- they lost, this time to former head coach Will Muschamp and his new team, the South Carolina Gamecocks, 28-20.
This one hurt more than the others, because the Gators had more than their fair share of chances. Florida was inches away from a pick six on the Gamecocks’ second possession of the game, but CJ Henderson fumbled that opportunity away at the one yard line- and with AJ Turner’s subsequent return of that fumble, Carolina actually gained 21 yards on the exchange. Florida came even closer a few plays later, when Chauncey Gardner picked off a wounded duck to a receiver that was once open, but was thrown far after the window had closed- and got tripped up at midfield by a fingernail with nobody else to beat. And sure enough, Florida failed to score on that drive.
Incredibly, those two interceptions- on what was basically the same possession- accounted for only half of the Gamecock turnovers on the day, and the Gators could take advantage of none of them. Carolina gave Florida the ball in great field position with a muff on the inevitable punt two drives later- on which Florida could only muster a field goal- and a third quarter duck that Vosean Joseph managed to corral resulted in a predictable three and out.
Even worse than the loss of the game was the loss of two, maybe three players. Quarterback Malik Zaire was knocked out of the game late in the first half with an apparent leg injury, and by the time the day was done, DT Elijah Conliffe and OL TJ McCoy were gone, too.
Now Florida has to beat UAB and FSU in its final two games to even have a prayer of reaching a bowl game. And that’s not looking very likely, even knowing how bad both those teams are. This is a lost season, a dead body, a shipwreck from which there is nothing of true value to salvage anymore other than potential bowl eligibility via the school’s APR score and what would amount to a bronze-ish lining if the Gators could stop the Seminoles’ four game winning streak.
All we know for sure is, it’s almost over. And for one of the two worst teams Florida has fielded since 1979- particularly with loaded basketball, softball and baseball teams across the street- that’s not such a bad thing.
In all kinds of weather, y’all.