There was nothing the Florida Gators needed more Saturday than a blowout win, but now that they got what they needed, it is time to put it in the rear view mirror. Junior Dante Fowler is a leader on the team and of a defense that shutout Eastern Michigan and he knows they have to get ready for the SEC schedule ahead of them.
“It was really about getting a ‘W,’ you know after the long season we had,” Fowler said to the Florida media Monday. “Just getting a win again to start fresh, we’re ready now. It just makes us even hungrier to get another ‘W.’”
Florida forced five turnovers on the day and the defense swarmed like Florida defenses have done under Will Muschamp. With both sides of the ball complimenting each other last weekend, things got to rocking and rolling.
“Yeah it was good, you know, we emphasized that a lot, getting the ball out and getting it back to the offense so Driskel can put our offense back in the end zone again, but that’s just what we do. That’s the name of the game… getting the ball out, getting it back to the offense and that’s what we did.”
A dominating performance was nice, but the Gators have a lot of new pieces to the puzzle. The big question here is, are these Gators capable of being that good all year?
“In my opinion, I would think so,” Fowler said. “When you put a tape out like that, a shut out like that, in my opinion, I think that shows a good sign. But, there are always things you can get coached on and get better and we’re going to find out today, so we’re just going to get ready to get coached.”
The Florida defense has a lot of new parts, a lot of young guys that are playing big roles. Four or five freshmen in the secondary, a few freshmen up front, and a slew of underclassmen in the two-deep make up a talented but really inexperienced group. Fowler understands what these guys are going through as he did back in 2012.
"My first experience, it was pretty kind of surreal, because I was out there with them guys,” he said. “It was basically like a learning thing. They put a big emphasis on me that I was going to learn. First get the techniques and the small things down right, because we all knew that I was athletic and I can do whatever. But it was just the small things I tried to get right. So that's basically what it is. Playing in the SEC conference, you're going against the best guys so you have to get bigger, you have to get stronger. So it was really the classroom and the weight room that I had to take seriously and just watching those guys. When it was my turn to get in, I took advantage of it."
The Gators open SEC play this weekend against Kentucky and quarterback Patrick Towles is fourth in the conference averaging 273 yards per game through the air, but he has also tallied 89 yards rushing in the two games to start the season.
“Oh, whenever you have a dual threat quarterback you always have to respect him, because he can pass and he can run. You just get in the film room and see what those guys do and get ready for him.”
The last time the Gators played Kentucky at home, they shutout the Wildcats. There is also a 27-game streak on the line. Florida hasn’t lost to the Wildcats since 1986. But all of that goes out the window this week in preparation for their first conference game.
“It’s an SEC game so I think that should explain it all right there,” Fowler said. We don't think about (the win streak). We treat every team with respect. We say, 'respect all, but fear none.' We respect our opponent, but we're not scared of them. We're going to be ready, and I'm pretty sure they're going to be ready for us, too."