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Five Defining Moments

January 6, 2019
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As we suffer through the first weekend without Florida football until the Gators take the field again in the spring, Inside the Gators Kassidy Hill counts down the five moments which most defined the 2018 season.

5) Stewart’s Pick-Six Against LSU

I went back and forth here on Dan Mullen before the game getting the crowd going and the sealing play itself. In the end, the play really encapsulated the whole day. When Brad Stewart ran back that pick-six against LSU, it was in a Swamp that was still packed to the gills with fans and members of the 2008 National Championship team on the sidelines that went out of their minds ballistic. It meant that the Gators had knocked off No. 5 LSU. It meant Stewart had a personal moment of thumbing his nose at his home state school. It meant the atmosphere Mullen had asked for since arriving had paid off. It meant that the Gators had claimed the title of DBU at least for this year. It meant Florida got to kick down the door of the SEC and officially say, we’re back and we have some things to say.

4) Goal Line Stand Against Georgia

This one is a little bittersweet since the Gators ended up losing this game. But the Florida defense standing strong during a seven play goal line stand against the Dawgs was one of, if not the most impressive defensive feat we’ve seen in Gator football in, like, forever. It’s statistically unheard of and asked of the defense to do something even the best NFL teams can barely fathom. The goal line stand was a defining moment of not only this season but of the new era in Gator football because in it the defense embodied everything their coaches had asked them to be—fast, physical and aggressive. They didn’t get discouraged and only got stronger as they drive continued. There was some faltering against Missouri, but for the most part the attitude from that goal line stand carried over into the rest of the season when they stood up and said, to quote Todd Grantham, “give us a blade of grass to defend and we’ll defend it.”

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3) Feleipe Shushing Fans

When quarterback Feleipe Franks shushed his own fans after two touchdowns versus South Carolina, reactions were split from the fans themselves as to whether it was justified, but few can argue with the results. Since that turn heel moment, Franks has spent the four game stretch (South Carolina, Idaho, Florida State and Michigan) putting up 1,039 total yards, 12 total touchdowns and no interceptions. That’s three more touchdowns than he had all of last season and only 399 yards short of 2017’s total production…in a four game span. Those two moments of him putting his finger to his mouth will be remembered as the moment Franks found the match to light his fire and become the quarterback Mullen truly needed to lead this offense and the come to Jesus moment the fans and team needed to get past in order to heal and take on the rest of the season together.

2) The Idaho Game

The cupcake game? That’s a defining moment? You bet it is. Stick with me. Florida beat the Vandals 63-10, exactly like they should. They put up 600 yards of total offense, exactly like they should. They held Idaho to less than 100 yards passing, exactly like they should. None of that had happened in recent years. For starters, that was the most points the Gators have put up in a week 11 game since 2008 when they scored 70 on The Citadel. In 2015, when the Gators went to the SEC Championship game, it took overtime to beat Florida Atlantic 20-14 in week 11. In 2013, Florida lost 26-10 to Georgia Southern that week. In 2012, even with the Gators hanging on to a Top 10 ranking, it took a last second punt block returned for a touchdown to beat Louisiana Monroe. Even if this season didn’t end in a Sugar Bowl or league championship game, for the first time in a decade it seemed like the Gators were on the right track and it had a lot to do with a run of the mill dismantling during cupcake week. And hey, they did it by making it to week 11 with a full roster that wasn’t missing legions of guys to scooter accidents or injuries brought on by inadequate strength and conditioning.

1) Emotions after Peach Bowl Win

It was a defining win on a big stage that left little to the imagination or room for excuses centered around missing UM players. Then there were more tears than not following the Gators win over Michigan in the Peach Bowl. The emotions were worn proudly, indicative of a team who’d been through hell and come out stronger on the other side, a culmination of a season in which they collectively decided to buy in to a new mindset and then put in the work to make it happen. With each tear and smile, there was a picture of a guy who’d poured everything they could into a program that meant everything to them and saw the fruits of their labor pay off. They showed us what can happen in one year under a new program and bodes well for many more smiles and happy tears in the future.

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Five Defining Moments

baseballdad16
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Another great article Kassidy. Keep up the good work.
Gators51
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Loved this one Kassidy!!
Dwil87
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Great read, enjoyed it! Louisiana Lafayette by the way. That game is still imprinted in my mind by how hype I was for the blocked punt followed immediately by anger for needing it in the first place lmao
Eric-UF
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Great write up!

Over the last few years, I've held that goalline stand against LSU in 2016 as one of the better moments in Gators Sports. More so than the 2015 comeback against Tennessee (which was awesome) because of the environment that surrounded that game. Given "relocation" of the game, what was "on the line" (pun intended) with respect to securing the SEC East, and that it was the last play of the game...that was a marque moment!

However, to your point, the stand against Georgia, even in a loss, was a defining moment because it said and showed that this team can go toe to toe with anybody and we won't back down! To me, that moment showed what this team is capable of, even if they had some lapses the following week.
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