Florida Follow-Up

Florida Head Coach Ron Zook remains positive about loss. Plus, quarterback Ingle Martin said to have suffered a concussion....

His mood was pleasant, yet his voice was hoarse. Sunday, no doubt, couldn't have been easy on Florida coach Ron Zook -- no matter how uplifting he attempted to be.

An afternoon following the meltdown in Miami, where Florida gave up a 23-point lead to lose 38-33 against the Hurricanes, Zook continued to pull out the positives in an otherwise disastrous fall.

"We're going to learn a lot more from this loss than if we had won the game," Zook said. "I know that sounds crazy, but I really believe that."

So which would be worse? Losing 41-16, as the Gators did a year ago? Or fizzling away in what would have been the finest moment in Zook's short tenure?

The answer, it seems, is far from simple.

"I don't believe in moral victories," Zook said. "It tore my guts up to be in that position. This one hurt me worse than last year. But our football team understands there are 10 games to go. We haven't even started the SEC run yet. We've got a long way to go."

What becomes the more important question, though, is how the Gators will find a way to remedy the slew of second-half slip-ups.

After a notably impressive early defensive performance, Florida failed to keep its poise. The Gators dominated Miami's rushing game. They didn't allow a single yard in the first quarter.

The second half? A nightmare. After picking up just 117 yards of offense in the first two quarters, Miami finished with 454 total yards.

The obvious reason would be the result of a more passive, overrun defense wearing down through the game's duration. Zook, on the other hand, said otherwise.

"We probably should have backed off a little more," Zook said. "We ran out of gas. If we would have backed off, we might have been a little better off."

As for the offense, Florida may have finally felt the repercussions of leaning on a true freshman quarterback. This time, though, the Gators had no other choice.

With Ingle Martin sidelined because of a concussion, Florida called on Chris Leak to drive the Gators down field. After hitting sophomore wide receiver Dallas Baker on two previous attempts, Leak looked to Baker again with six seconds remaining. This time, the throw was intercepted.

Zook said Leak pressed too hard, forcing the pass into Baker.

"He has a pretty good feel for Dallas," Leak said. "So he tried to force it in there. They ran the route he was supposed to run, but I think he did force it in."

Aside from the impressive play of Martin, Zook continued to defend his choice to rotate quarterbacks.

Does he intend to establish one quarterback to carry the weight?

"No, no, no," Zook said. "I don't understand why that's so important to everybody. You have to do what gives your team the best opportunity to win."

MARTIN SUFFERS CONCUSSION: Florida quarterback Ingle Martin suffered a head injury during the third quarter of Saturday's 38-33 loss to Miami, sidelining the junior for Miami's 23-point comeback.

Coach Ron Zook, who called the injury a concussion early Sunday morning, said Martin isn't sure which hit caused the damage.

"We think it was the second series of the second half," Zook said. "But it doesn't look like he got hit in the head. The next series, he was trying to focus. He thought he was all right, but then he realized he wasn't."

The junior suffered a similar injury in the spring. And like Saturday, he was unsure of when the actual hit took place.

Martin was scheduled to meet with trainers Sunday afternoon. Should he be able to play, he likely will start Saturday against FAMU. The junior went 7-for-10 for 114 yards against the Hurricanes.

"I would say that he'll be the starting quarterback on Saturday if everything's alright," Zook said.

LAMAR'S INJURY NOT SERIOUS: Cornerback Johnny Lamar, who was carried off the field by two teammates after intercepting a Brock Berlin pass in the third quarter, suffered cramps and will return to practice Monday.

Lamar, a former walk-on from Dillard High, led the Gators with six tackles before he left the field.

BACK TO WORK: Less than a day after the meltdown in Miami, a reporter asked Florida coach Ron Zook if the upcoming week would be the most important of his career. In essence, could Zook's squad rebound from a loss like Saturday's?

"This has got to be a positive step for us," Zook said. "Last night was an accelerated growing spurt. The frustrating thing is that you get that close. But our guys believe they can win. They know we're going to continue to improve and get better."

"I'm proud of what they've done. We will build on this. We will get better from this. I think our football team will realize we our better than other people think."

Heading into its game against the Rattlers, Florida plans to keep rotating its quarterbacks despite Ingle Martin's clear edge on Chris Leak and Gavin Dickey.

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