Westbrook moving past costly drop

Florida tight end Tevin Westbrook made himself watch the play. The senior tight end dropped a sure touchdown pass that would have given the Gators a four-point lead with less than two minutes remaining against LSU.

Instead of avoiding the play and trusting himself to make it next time, Westbrook went back and watched it “over and over again.” He wanted to see what happened, what went wrong and how the ball fell out of his hands. The film showed that Westbrook didn’t look the ball all the way into his hands, and the emotion of scoring the go-ahead touchdown took control before the ball was secured.

“I took it for granted thinking that it was such an easy pass,” said Tevin Westbrook, who made the decision to speak to the media. “And then when it hit my hands I was too excited to go celebrate with the team that I forgot that I had to secure the ball.”

The added emotions took his focus off the ball, and it bounced off his hands and fell to the ground. Westbrook fell, too. He went from every football player’s dream of catching the game-winning pass to feeling like he cost his team the game by the drop.

Westbrook’s drop got the publicity because it came at the biggest moment, but drops have been a massive issue for the pass catchers in the Florida offense. Florida coach Will Muschamp has emphasized that no one can catch the ball for the players, but they have to improve.

For Westbrook, that meant extra time at the JUGS machine during Monday’s practice. He spent more time locking in and treating every rep like the game was on the line. Moving on from Saturday has been easier than expected because of the help from the teammates and coaches around him.

“Everyone has been supportive -- teammates, coaches,” Westbrook said. “We’re a family and try not to listen to anybody else outside of football. Coaches, they’ve all contacted me and called me over the weekend, all very supportive. Will (Muschamp), D-Lew (Derek Lewis), everybody on the coaching staff and teammates after the game, they could see how upset I was. I normally make that play in practice and any other time. I just got to focus more next time, so they’re all supportive.”

When Westbrook gets his next chance, he doesn’t know which quarterback will be throwing it. The Gators plan to play both Jeff Driskel and Treon Harris on Saturday against Missouri, so the pass catchers have been catching balls from both quarterbacks this week in practice.

It might seem minor, but there is an adjustment to be made with a new quarterback throwing the ball.

“It’s a huge difference,” Westbrook said of catching passes from the two quarterbacks. “Driskel throws it on the money, but it comes very hard, fast. You can tell he played baseball in the past. Treon has good touch on his ball and it doesn’t come as hard. He gets it there. The difference in the two, I’d say, is Driskel is faster and you feel it when it comes. Treon has a little touch, a little float to it.”

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