Five Fast Thoughts: Florida can go toe-to-toe with anyone

Sep 19, 2021 | 0 comments

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Here are Five Fast Thoughts after Florida's heartbreaking 31-29 loss to No. 1 Alabama. Included is a look at how Emory Jones took charge in the fourth quarter, the game actually being a win-win for Florida on the recruiting front and more.


I write the outline for this as the game is being played and then go back in and fill in the blanks post-game. Thus some ‘takes’ might seem a bit dated or perhaps even over the top as I write my thoughts ‘in the moment’. Plus, this is a bit more of a ‘raw’ update in that I write what I write and really don’t go back and check the game tape before publishing the article.


1) There were some doubters coming in, with I, myself being one of them. The oddsmakers had Florida as a two-touchdown underdog and I predicted a three-score loss. We were all wrong. What Florida showed in taking No. 1 Alabama to the wire is that the Gators can play with anyone on their schedule, and for that matter, in the nation. Florida might now actually be considered the favorite in the East over Georgia. We saw two heavyweights exchanging blows on Saturday in the Swamp and though you never want to walk away satisfied with a loss, the Gators certainly have nothing to hang their head about.

2) To follow up on the boxing match analogy, there's no doubt that Emory Jones answered the bell in the 10th round. In doing so, maybe, just maybe, he cemented his status as Florida's starting quarterback regardless of Anthony Richardson's availability. After beginning the game 11-of-20 for 111-yards and too many poor throws to count, Jones came alive in the fourth quarter. Taking over at their own one-yard line due to an unfortunate mistake by kickoff returner Jamarkis Weston, Jones had back-to-back incompletions to Keon Zipperer and Rick Wells – with the pass attempt to Wells being particularly worrisome. However, then on 3rd & 10 he hit Nay'Quan Wright for 18 yards and a first down. That began a game-ending run that saw him go 6-of-7, for 70-yards to lead Florida to back-to-back touchdown drives. Yes, he still has work to do, but Saturday was a positive step in the right direction.

3) No, I don't believe in celebrating losses. Yes, I realize that this was a loss. However, while not attempting to bring back memories of Randy Shannon's time as the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes, truthfully the loss tonight will help Florida more than you will ever know. Coaches, players, and fans suffer a letdown after a loss, but to prospects, especially those in attendance, what they saw was Florida go toe-to-toe with the No. 1 ranked team in the nation for 60 minutes and almost pull the upset. They saw a well-coached team while enjoying an incredible game-day atmosphere – one I would be willing to bet hasn't come close to being replicated during any other visit they've taken. With such a close game, they saw an opportunity to be able to come in and help put Florida over the top. The coaches still have to take advantage of this gift along the recruiting trail, but the table has been set, we'll see what they can do with it.

4) Speaking of obtaining talent, and Florida's struggles along the recruiting trail, Dan Mullen is now 6-7 playing against the AP Top 25 as the Gators' head coach. He is now 2-7 against SEC programs (Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and Texas A&M) that out recruit Florida on a consistent basis. How often can anyone say that Nick Saban and his super staff were outcoached? Well, you can legitimately make that claim tonight. Mullen is such a damn good game day coach, an offensive play-caller, director of the program, and developer of talent you can't help but wonder what heights the Florida football program could reach if he and his staff were just able to show modest improvement in recruiting.

5) Raise your hand if you honestly thought coming into the game that Florida would only give up one sack in 27 pass attempts, while rushing for 258-yards against Alabama's vaunted front four. Go ahead and put your hand down. No. 1, I don't believe you. No. 2, I can't see you anyways. I tweeted it during the game, but it is well worth pointing it out once again, Florida's offensive line has played magnificently through the first three games of the season. For all the flack that John Hevesy and his linemen have taken over the last three years, they deserve all the recognition and praise the Gator Nation can possibly send their way right now.

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