Once the lightning cleared the area and Florida ran out to the field to warm up following the first delay, they were still surprised at the large number of fans in the crowd, especially in the student section. The Florida students have received bad press in recent years, struggling to sell out their allotment of student tickets.
It was evident when the Florida coaches first came out of the locker room to check the playing surface. The students erupted when Will Muschamp came out of the locker room. After walking half of the field to see if it was acceptable, Muschamp looked at the student section and gave a fist pump, sending them into a frenzy again.
“You ain’t hear it from me,” Muschamp said when told that the students have received criticism because of struggles to sell tickets. “It was unbelievable. They were great.”
A lengthy delay could cause a team to come out flat once it was cleared to play. That didn’t happen to the Gators, and many of the players credited the energy still in the stadium as one of the reasons.
“It was cool to see,” said Florida tight end Jake McGee, who was playing in his first game at The Swamp after transferring from Virginia. “There’s a bunch of lightning, bunch of rain and you’ve got people out in the stands acting like it’s 75 (degrees) and sunny. It was cool to see that just the way they were excited for the season, too, because that’s really a big part of playing. You want to sort of put your product on the field for the fans.”
During the anxiousness of waiting out the delay on Saturday night, multiple Florida players stuck their heads out of the tunnel to look up into the stands and see how the field looked. Even the ones that didn’t could hear the loud noises from the crowd. Whether it was the “orange-blue” or “Let’s go Gators” chants echoing off the inside of the stadium or the words to the songs the fans were singing, most players weren’t surprised to come out of the tunnel and see the large number of fans still there.
“That shows the loyalty of the fans, and we just love the fact that we have Gator fans that support us through the utmost, unconditional weather,” Florida safety Jabari Gorman said. “It just made us grateful to have them.”
The Florida coaches did their best throughout the delay to keep the players focused on the game. Every 20 minutes, the position coaches got their players together and went over the game plan, just to remind them of what the goal was. During the second delay after Florida had the kickoff and lined up on offense, they spent the time in the locker room talking about how Idaho lined up on defense and what they saw.
The goal was to keep players focused on the game and avoid a slow start if they were able to get back on the field and restart the game. It ended up being the energy from the crowd that had the players focused on the game.
“That was pretty surprising,” Florida left tackle D.J. Humphries said. “That got me pretty excited. When we saw the fans still into it, that had us pretty excited as well. They were into it. They had us pretty fired up."