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October 28, 2012

Simonton: Keep it in perspective



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    At times, emptiness clouds perspective.

    Scratch that.

    Fans almost always haze context in favor of panic and overreactions.

    Welcome back Gators fans, ye how you've been missed.

    After losing to Georgia 17-9 in a turnover-laden affair, Florida fumbled away its unblemished record, a chance to control its own destiny and an opportunity to bury its bitter rival.

    The demoralizing loss left both players and coaches searching for answers, while fans questioned if the year had simply been propelled by smoke and mirrors.

    Reality check: The Gators are a flawed team.

    Who isn't?

    It's here where all the numbness stones one's mind.

    Florida's season is not over.

    At the very worst, Florida should win 10 games this year.

    Prior to the start of the season, how many of you would have been happy with that?

    While the loss to the Bulldogs severely spoiled UF's chances to get back to Atlanta, everything -- yes, everything -- still stands as a possibility headed into the home stretch.

    Shoot, the Gators may have done themselves a favor avoiding Alabama.

    I kid. I kid.

    But Florida's winning formula didn't vanish after one rocky game. The Gators' glaring Honey Boo Boo-esque deficiencies have lingered all season.

    Before UF went on its surprising run, what were everyone's realistic expectations three months ago?

    Go back to August, take a drop of truth serum and ask yourself if you would take a 7-1 record heading into a cupcake-weighted November?

    Last season's 0-for-October is a distant memory. In the same brutal stretch in 2012, UF has dropped two top-10 teams on the way to a 3-1 record.

    All is not for naught.

    Ultimately, Florida has overachieved. Stacked with a top-notch defense and great special teams, the Gators thrashed preseason expectations despite possessing little offensive firepower, a young quarterback and an up-and-down offensive line.

    For the first time all year, UF's Molotov cocktail of quarterback inexperience, a lack of play-making receivers and pedestrian pass blocking reared its ugly head.

    Bad.

    But it was bound to happen sometime. It wasn't astonishing to see Jeff Driskel crumble against a defense filled with NFL talent.

    It simply hadn't happened yet.

    Every team has warts -- well, maybe not the Tide -- but as coach Will Muschamp said the Gators aren't a group with a "whole lot of margin of error."

    Saturday's loss was the perfect example.

    "We need to push through this," Muschamp said after the defeat. "There's no question -- there's a lot of football to play."

    With a month until another potential top-10 showdown in Tallahassee, the Gators should use the next three weeks against pedestrian opponents to figure some things out offensively. Driskel's issues need to be addressed.

    Florida must shape up its pass protection and find someone other than Jordan Reed who can consistently get open.

    Finding a quality pass rusher would be nice too.

    But it ain't over.

    I understand the disappointment.

    I get your sadness and frustration.

    In a bizarre fashion, 2012 was shaping up to be a special season.

    It still can be.

    Actually, it still is.





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