That’s especially the case this week. The Gators travel to Nashville this weekend with a chance to get the matchup back on their side. The Commodores completed a 34-17 win in The Swamp last season, their first win over Florida in 22 chances and their first win in Gainesville since 1945.
The silent, sulking locker room after the game has been stuck in the minds of Florida players this week.
“Bad. It’s embarrassing,” Florida cornerback Brian Poole said. “(It was) homecoming. It was just a bad feeling.”
When the team met together on Sunday, the message was to regroup. Florida is coming off an emotional win over Georgia, but the Gators can’t let Vanderbilt sneak up on them in Nashville. To make sure the team’s focus is in the right place, Florida coach Will Muschamp brought up the outcome of last year’s game against Vanderbilt.
The players joked this week that he didn’t need to do that because they still remembered what happened.
“If you have some pride about yourself, you just look at last year’s film and that’s all the motivation you need,” said Florida right tackle Chaz Green, who missed all of last season with an injury. “It shouldn’t be a rivalry game to get you up to play anyway. Just look at the film from last year and that should be all the motivation we need.”
Green didn’t need to be on the field to understand the hurt from that game. He felt it just as much as the other players as he watched from the sideline. The players heard all week about the 22-game winning streak on the line, and for the lifetime of most players, all they had seen was Florida dominating Vanderbilt. That changed last year.
“It was rough,” Green said. “I had the same feeling a lot of guys that played did. They just felt like we feel we could have put on a better show. Being embarrassed, having them come into our homefield and take one from us. … we’ve got to use that as motivation on the practice field and go from there.”
Multiple Florida players pointed to the game being another one in a long line of embarrassing losses last season. For some, that’s enough motivation. Antonio Morrison got hurt against the Commodores last season and wants to give them his best shot this year.
It was the fourth straight loss in what ended up being seven straight losses to close the year, but this one had a lot of history along with it. The Gators still lead the series 35-10-2, but they want to start another streak on Saturday.
“They completely embarrassed us last year,” Florida center Max Garcia said. “We're going to their house, and we want them to experience the same disappointment they gave to us last year. We have to redeem ourselves in that way. We're going to out there and it doesn't matter who we're playing against, but it is an added knowing they embarrassed us last year in The Swamp."