A Roller Coaster Ride

Well, after all of the second-guessing, the name-calling and just general Zook-hating that has went on for much of the season, Ron Zook has Florida in a position to have a successful season.

Will it be successful in terms of what most Florida fans expect every year? Certainly not, but after beating Georgia Saturday night, Florida is in a position to finish the year with just three losses, not an unreasonable number considering the coaching change and the brutal schedule.

Perhaps it was the overtime touchdown pass from Rex Grossman to Taylor Jacobs against Auburn that has triggered this resurgence. Maybe that was just the spark the Gators needed to get themselves going. Then again, maybe it was just the site of a Georgia uniform that gave them confidence. This game had Florida players talking before the game as if they were the undefeated, defending national champs. What other undefeated team would a Florida player predict a victory over other than Georgia? Maybe this game just served to reinforce to the players how good this team really is when it plays well. With all of the fuss being made over Georgia, Florida players must have been thinking aloud, Isn't this the same team we beat soundly every year? It was, and Florida beat them once again, which should give this team the confidence that when it plays well, it has the talent to play with anyone? If it does, then the Gators have a chance to become the surprise team of the second half of the season.

With two very winnable games against Vandy and South Carolina upcoming, the Gators are basically one Georgia loss away from ending up in the SEC Championship game, an unthinkable prospect just a few weeks ago.

If it seems like it was just a week ago that the program was in shambles and the Zook Era was on a one-way path to disaster, that's because it was. That's how big the Georgia win was. This was no mirage like the Tennessee game. This wasn't beating a flawed, untested team in a monsoon. Make no mistake, Georgia is for real. And the Gators beat them on a night when they didn't play their best.

In fact, Florida beat them on a night when they seemed hell bent on giving the game away. Four turnovers that took away two scoring opportunities for the Gators and created them for Georgia; five points left on the field due to special teams blunders. This was not a game in which Florida simply caught all of the breaks on a night of flawless execution. Instead, Florida simply looked like the better team who rebounded from their mistakes better than Georgia did.

Georgia fans that might have blamed the loss on the absence of their biggest playmaker, Fred Gibson, were silenced when Taylor Jacobs, even more valuable to the Gators than Gibson to the Bulldogs, went down on the first series of the game. The difference was that it was Kelvin Kight and Carlos Perez, not Reggie Brown and Terrence Edwards, who stepped up to the plate when called on. That was pretty much the story of the game for Florida, players stepping up to make crucial plays in crucial situations, something that's been missing for most of the year. Whether it was Ben Troupe, or Gus Scott or Rex Grossman, it seemed whenever a big play was needed to be made, a Gator stepped up and made it.

And dare I say that Georgia was also out coached? I will because that's exactly what happened. The Gators' offensive and defensive plans seemed to be right on target from the very start. Were it not for the careless turnovers, the Gators very easily could've been nursing a two-touchdown lead at halftime. Georgia had no answer for Florida's quick passing game and was never able to make an effective adjustment. On offense, Georgia seemed befuddled by John Thompson's defense all night long, converting exactly the same number of third down conversions as the Bulldog cheerleaders.

So, after a season that for Gator fans has seemed unrecognizable, at least there is one constant that can always be counted on: Florida beats Georgia. Just like death and taxes, certain things are inevitable.

Now, if the Gators can finally sustain this level of play for the rest of the season, Zook can momentarily relieve himself of the heat that has followed him like a heat-seeking missile this season.

Zook seems to have found the formula for job security: just keep beating the teams that Florida fans hate the most to make them forget about losing the games you're supposed to win. So, if this trend continues, of course Florida will lose to Vandy and South Carolina, blowing any chance of going to the SEC title game or a New Year's Day bowl. This will prompt all of Gator Nation to call for Zook's immediate resignation after the South Carolina debacle, signaling the end of the Zook Era for good. Zook will then respond by beating Florida State in Tallahassee by 20 points.

And who ever said this guy didn't know what he was doing, anyway?


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