UF football

Florida Gators look pretty good winning ugly games


The Gators might not be winning in style, but they are ranked No. 2 in the BCS poll and on the cusp of winning the SEC East division crown.

Miami Herald Writer

So far this season, the Gators have personified the cliché of “winning ugly.”

In their past three games, they have just 232 total passing yards and 23 penalties, and running back Mike Gillislee has twice been held to fewer than 100 rushing yards. In those same three games, Florida has beaten two top-10 teams by 41 combined points and earned a No. 2 ranking in the Bowl Championship Series standings.

A year after going 0-4 in October, the Gators are 3-0 and have a chance to clinch the Southeastern Conference East division and a trip to Atlanta with a win against Georgia on Saturday.

So don’t be surprised if they’re not exactly concerned with style points.

“We’ve got an excited locker room,” coach Will Muschamp said. “They like winning.”

Said wide receiver Frankie Hammond: “As long as you keep winning, there’s nothing really to complain about … no matter how ugly or how pretty it is.”

Last year at this time, there was plenty to complain about.

Florida was on the heels of consecutive embarrassing losses to Alabama, LSU and Auburn in which it was outscored 96 to 27 and outgained 1,097 yards to 629. The Gators rushed for just 256 yards in those three games, gave up seven turnovers and eight sacks and made mistake after mistake.

“We’ve got a bunch of guys in the locker room that were there in Columbia [S.C.] and were in Auburn and Jacksonville and all those places,” Muschamp said. “Certainly we have grown from that. We’ve got a bunch of competitive guys in the locker room and they rally around that a little bit. There’s certainly been an extra sense of motivation each week.”

In three games this October, Muschamp and Co. have architected a complete turnaround. Florida has outscored opponents 89-34, including 27-13 in the fourth quarter, and has turned the ball over just twice while forcing eight.

But the Gators don’t care about any of those stats. They care about crossing one more name off their list — the Bulldogs.

Last year, Georgia closed out Florida’s miserable October with a come-from-behind victory during which cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Jaylen Watkins were twice beaten on jump balls in the end zone. Purifoy has not forgotten.

“There’s a lot of hate and anger going into that Georgia game,” he said. “There’s a lot of hate and anger going into all games. That feeling in that locker room, it’s just crazy when you lose that close to a team like them. … They thought they was better than us last year.”

Offensive lineman Jonotthan Harrison said that last year, especially in the month of October, was a wakeup call for the Gators. They used that as motivation, he said.

“We just changed the mind-set completely,” he said. “We can’t accept that because we know it’s not Florida. We just took that and we came into this season with a chip on our shoulder ready to get back to where we’re supposed to be. … We’re on our way to be what Florida used to be, what Florida’s known for.”

Read more State Colleges stories from the Miami Herald

University of Miami Pole Vaulter Alysha Newman is shown at practice in Coral Gables on April 15, 2014.

    UM | Track and Field

    University of Miami pole vaulter Alysha Newman overcomes fear to succeed

    To watch Alysha Newman vault nearly 15 feet in the air, she seems like a natural. But don’t let the stunning visual of an airborne Newman fool you. She’s just about as petrified as you might be if you were to try this daredevil event in track and field.

This image from Sept. 2003 video shows Miami booster Nevin Shapiro gesturing on the field at an NCAA college football game between Miami and Florida, in Miami, Fla.  The NCAA's probe of Miami's athletic compliance practices is ramping up yet again. Only this time, the Hurricanes aren't exactly the subject of the inquiry. The NCAA itself is being investigated after NCAA President Mark Emmert acknowledged on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, "a very severe issue of improper conduct" by former investigators working the long, complex Miami case. (AP Photo/WFOR/CBS4)

    Legal affairs

    Florida Bar accuses lawyer who represented UM booster Nevin Shapiro

    Maria Elena Perez, who represented Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro, was slapped with allegations of ethical violations during botched NCAA probe.

  • Colleges | Barry University

    No. 1 Barry men win Sunshine State golf title

    Barry University, ranked No. 1 in the nation and led by Adam Svensson, won the Sunshine State Championship title by 18 strokes over Saint Leo at the Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club, a 7,072-yard par-72 course, in Dade City. Barry totaled a 19-under-par 845 team total for the tournament and recorded a school-record sixth tournament victory of the season.

Get your Miami Heat Fan Gear!

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category