Howard Says Win is Building Block

Winning the 2012 Gator Bowl was more than just about pride for the Florida Gators who fought hard to avoid a losing season for the first time since 1979. To some, this game was about the future and getting back to the championship football that this program is used to. That thought wasn't left just to the players that will return, but to the seniors that wan their Alma Mater.

The Florida players have heard it all month from fans, the media, and even coaches about the chance of having a losing season and the stigma it would leave. It played on a lot of their minds, including senior Jay Howard, who did his part with his 1.5 sacks and relentless pursuit of the ball the entire game.

"That was the biggest thing, we just had to go out and be known as a winning team," Howard said shortly after the ga24-17 win over Ohio State in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. "We didn't want to be known as a losing team at Florida."

Howard knew it would be a fight, but he brought his lunch pail and finished the game strong. There was no doubt Ohio state could win the game.

"Any given day any team can win," Howard said. "We just came out here and played as hard as we could play."

Florida showed strong with their pass rush of the season and had a season high six sacks on the day. Howard did his part with the 1.5 sacks and one that he shot the gap, exploded in the backfield and slammed quarterback Braxton Miller to the ground.

"I will always remember that, it was a great feeling," he said of the sack. "We practiced four weeks on the pass rushing, and it showed up today."

For Howard a little more incentive was added to the game because former Florida head coach Urban Meyer took over the reigns of the Ohio State program last month and will start coaching the Buckeyes from this point forward.

"Even though Urban isn't there right now, it meant a lot to win this one," Howard said. "He recruited me, so it was big for me. I took it personally, I don't know about the other guys, but I took it like that."

Finally, this was a game that Howard says is a turning point and one that the Florida program can grow on. Two consecutive mediocre seasons has turned a dark eye on a program that has won two national titles in the last six years. Howard wants the young defense and the program to build on what happened on the field Monday.

"It feels great and is a building block for these younger guys, he said about the win. "I am looking forward to watching them every Saturday kick butt all year next year. I am always going to be a Gator and it will be great to turn on the TV and watch them swarm on defense like we did in the past."


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