GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida interim coach Greg Knox might sense one thing slightly completely different from the Gators after their assembly within the staff lodge on Saturday morning.
It had been a wild six weeks for Florida, stuffed with losses, adversity, and the dismissal of coach Dan Mullen final Sunday. Relatively than hand over on the season, Knox and his seniors led Florida to a 24-21 win over rival Florida State, clinching bowl eligibility whereas denying the Seminoles their very own shot to get to 6 wins.
“We had an incredible senior class with some management,” Knox stated. “They understood the state of affairs they had been in and we talked about alternative in chaos. In a chaotic state of affairs that began Sunday with Dan getting dismissed and me being put in place after which all of the issues coming from the surface that I believe they pulled collectively and made them stronger. It made me stronger as a result of I pulled with them and we held this factor collectively.
“And right now after we watched our spotlight video, we got here out of that assembly at that lodge, I knew after we walked out of that room they had been able to play, they usually had been.”
Headed into the sport, Florida seemed to be the extra overwhelmed down staff. Along with enjoying with out Mullen, Florida was additionally with out its defensive coordinator and offensive line coach, fired after an embarrassing 40-17 loss to South Carolina as a strategy to make modifications to cease the downward slide.
However that didn’t assist the state of affairs. Mullen was fired after a 24-23 time beyond regulation loss to Missouri final weekend to drop the Gators to 2-6 in SEC play. Florida had misplaced 4 of its earlier 5 headed into the Florida State recreation, and the one win in that string was a extremely ridiculed 70-52 win over FCS Samford.
Florida State, however, had gone 5-2 since an 0-4 begin and appeared poised to get to 6 wins in what would have been a exceptional turnaround. What unfolded was a sloppy recreation between two groups which have made related errors all season. The groups mixed for 21 penalties and 6 turnovers, however Florida took management within the second half behind quarterback Anthony Richardson — who entered the sport completely after Emory Jones threw an interception ultimately zone (his third of the day).
Richardson has been a fan favourite all season due to his skill to make large performs on the bottom, and his entrance appeared to vary the power on the sideline and within the stands. Florida grew to become the aggressor throughout the board, and Dameon Pierce ran arduous, with 62 yards and a landing.
After Florida took a 24-7 lead early within the fourth quarter, Florida State fought again. Jordan Travis, enjoying with a clearly injured proper throwing shoulder, did his greatest to get the Seminoles again within the recreation – main two landing drives to shut the hole to 24-21 with 49 seconds left.
The Seminoles lined up for the onside kick, however kicker Parker Grothaus mistakenly hit the ball as he tried to swing his leg over it. The ball moved a couple of inches, and Florida State had no selection however to fall on it despite the fact that it didn’t journey the required 10 yards – successfully ending the sport. Knox stated afterward, “I’ve by no means seen that earlier than in my life.”
Florida State coach Mike Norvell stated particular groups errors as an entire had been one key motive they misplaced. The Seminoles misplaced a fumble on a muffed punt by Ontaria Wilson within the third quarter, which led to a Florida landing that broke open the sport.
“There have been some essential errors that had been made,” Norvell stated. “It isn’t only one second, not only one play however as an entire we’d like particular groups to be one thing that is a constructive for us. There have been too many instances this yr the place I do not know if we displayed the funding that we make and the time we put into it.”
Travis ended up ending with 304 whole yards and two touchdowns, nevertheless it was not sufficient in opposition to an impressed Florida protection, which has taken its share of criticism all through the course of the season. Florida defensive lineman Antonio Valentino credited performing defensive coordinator Christian Robinson for the development.
“It does not matter what the file is, the usual right here is we do not lose to Florida State,” Florida defensive lineman Antonio Valentino stated. “As a protection these final couple weeks we have actually come collectively. If you happen to discover, one man makes a play, all people’s coming to have a good time with him. Within the early half of the season it form of wasn’t like that on a regular basis. C-Rob introduced that up and was like, ‘Why is not it like this?’ So it was a acutely aware effort, all of us, to go in there and try this.”
Because of this, Florida retains is season alive for yet another recreation.
“We knew what was at stake this recreation,” Florida defensive deal with Zachary Carter stated. “They had been combating for a bowl. We had been combating for a bowl. We needed it extra. We needed to get to that bowl.”