Bowl Game Can Provide Momentum

The Gator Bowl is an opportunity for Florida to turn the page and begin building momentum for next season. That's how the players and coaches are taking the field for practice in preparation. As a season to forget comes to a close, the returning players are hopeful that a win will carry a positive mindset into offseason workouts and spring practice.

"We look at it like that," Josh Evans said. "It's basically the first game of next season. It's a good start for us to start it out with a win."

Building for next season already started earlier this season. The youth of the Gators hurt them on the field this season, but Evans has seen that youth start to mature on the practice field and in meeting rooms. The players are hoping the frustrations that youth caused in games this season will pay off with a mature, experienced squad next season.

"Coming in, you've got younger guys and with them knowing the system and taking things more seriously, we could become a really good team," Evans said.

"It's about getting extra film and staying after practice for extra drills. Sometimes the younger players don't take that into consideration but towards the end of the season, they're starting to think about things a little more."

There's also another goal the players have been focusing on. Florida hasn't experienced a losing season since 1979, and as the Gators sit at 6-6 heading into the matchup with Ohio State, Florida would be looking at a losing season with a Buckeyes win.

Word of that streak has already made it into the Florida locker room.

"We spoke about that a couple days ago. That's something we don't want to happen. We're trying to better ourselves to make sure that doesn't happen. The coaches brought it up and the players talked about it, too. We're trying to finish on a good note with a win."

The shadow looming over the bowl game is Urban Meyer, who will take over the reigns as the head coach of Ohio State for next year. With plenty of players in Gainesville because Meyer recruited them, Evans admitted that the team has talked it about, but he downplayed the impact it would have on the game.

"It was a shock, a little surprising," Evans said. "We've moved on and moved past it. I'm sure there are some (players at Florida) who probably feel a certain way about it, but we don't really discuss it much."

Meyer then hired strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti away from Florida. Evans said the players thought it could happen after Meyer took the job because they all knew how close Meyer and Marotti were.

"That was big for us. Not only was he a good coach, but he was like a father to some players. That was a big loss. When we came in here, everybody knew he was the strength coach."

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