Everyone associated with the Florida football program wants to forget what happened on Saturday afternoon in Arlington.
Coach Jim McElwain said he wants to forget it. Defensive end Cece Jefferson said he wants to forget it. Multiple other players said they want to forget it. But left tackle Martez Ivey showed it when asked if he was surprised about No. 17 UF’s offensive line getting physically pummeled by Michigan.
“I don’t know,” he answered. “Next question.”
Next was a key word for many Florida players following its loss to the No. 11 Wolverines. Many of them answered questions about what happened in Saturday’s loss, but all of them eventually came back to some variation of, “We need to get better and prepare for next week.” It seems obvious, but defensive end Jordan Sherit admitted it’s not easy to forget getting what McElwain described as “whooped.”
“I can’t say I wont think about it,” he said. “Obviously it hurts, and I will think about it.”
But Sherit, like all Florida’s players who spoke to reporters after the game, said that can’t consume them for too long.
“All of our goals are still attainable,” he said. “Obviously it hurts, but you can’t dwell on the past. You have to look forward.”
Doing so will involve two main tasks: Fixing an offensive line that got dominated by the Wolverines and deciding what to do at quarterback.
McElwain admitted as much about the offensive line following the game, emphasizing the unit needs to be more physical. And after touting a “plan” on offense heading in, McElwain said Michigan foiled it. So now, it’s time for new ideas amid the chaos.
“We got to look at a lot of things,” he said. “And yet it’s not time to hit the panic button. We’ve got a good football team. We’ll come back and do the right thing and be OK.”
What will doing the right thing look like? McElwain said it starts with finding an identity on offense, where the Gators split time between redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks and graduate transfer Malik Zaire. He said after the Michigan game, he’s optimistic the pieces are there. It’s just a matter of putting them together.
“It’s something we have to do,” he said. “No doubt about it... I think sitting down and really probably more than anything cleaning up that get-it-to list and let those guys go out and make some plays.”
The “get-it-to list” refers to players who McElwain felt deserved more touches than they got. Players like Kadarius Toney, Brandon Powell and Dre Massey, who combined for five catches and 37 yards. Some of that just didn’t have time to be executed with Michigan controlling the game’s time of possession 34 minutes to 26 minutes, but McElwain said there also needs to be more of an effort to get those guys involved in his revised plan.
He’ll likely be looking to revise more than just that, and in doing so, shift focus to what’s next. His players will try to do the same ahead of Saturday’s game against FCS-opponent Northern Colorado.
“When we were in the locker room,” Jefferson said, “there wasn’t any pointing fingers or blaming. Everybody was mature about this loss, and everybody knows we just have to move on and get ready for next week.”