Florida Just Got Beat

The Florida Gators came into Saturday's SEC Championship with high expectations. They were favored and knew they had a defense that was going to keep Alabama honest on the day. All of that flew out of the window early in the contest as the Gators suffered their worst defeat since Alabama in 2005. The defense got beat and the Florida players stood like men and gave Alabama credit.

It has been rare when this group of Florida players has been beaten, especially like it happened Saturday night. Make no mistake about it, Alabama was the better team on the field Saturday and the Gators were upset in the locker room after, but knew that was a tough team on the other sideline.

It seemed like Alabama could do nothing wrong on offense. They ran at will and riddled the Florida run defense to the tune of 251 yards. Gator starting corner Joe Haden knew they were tough, but thought they got Alabama's best game of the year.

"Yes, I expected them to play like that," Haden said from the locker room following the game. "But it looked like they were running the ball harder on us than they did on film."

With starting defensive end Carlos Dunlap out for the game, sophomore Jaye Howard played a more prominent role on the defensive line. It was the line and the front seven that seemed to get the worst part of the Alabama punishment on Saturday.

"That was the best team on the field…no excuses," Howard said. "We had the same preparation as always, we just came up short with missed tackles. We have to move on and get ready for the next game."

Starting freshman defensive tackle Omar Hunter was also certain of just how good Alabama is after they piled up 490 yards of total offense.

"They are a good team," Hunter said. "We have to give credit where credit is due."

Senior linebacker Ryan Stamper also gave Alabama credit and credited Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy with being a gamer. McElroy finished 12-of-18 for 239 yards and a touchdown and also came up with some key 3rd down conversions with his feet getting out of trouble.

"He played a good game," Stamper said of McElroy. "His receivers were open. They played great in every phase of the game."

Stamper also knows he and his troops didn't have a good game.

"We just played bad, it was the worst game we played all season," Stamper said. "It's my senior year…we thought when we came out and was going to be a good game."

Alabama's offensive line was very impressive on the night as the Gators sent a lot of bodies to get to McElroy and sacked him just once. He wasn't ready to blame that on Carlos Dunlap missing the game because of suspension.

"We just couldn't get to them," Stamper said. "We feel like if a guy goes down someone else has to step up and play at the same level. If we played like we did today with him here, we still would have lost."

One key stat as I thought going into the game was third down conversions. However, I was really wrong about how that would turn out. Coming into the game Alabama was averaging 38 percent on third down conversions and managed to go 11-of-15 on third downs for a whopping 73 percent. Meanwhile Florida, who averaged 50 percent on the year, came up short at just 4-of-11 or 36 percent.

It was frustrating for Haden and company when they couldn't get off the field.

"We were trying to get off the field but they kept converting," Haden said.

For a team that had so much on the line, it all came crashing down so fast for these Gators. Still, we are talking about a 12-1 team. It is a group of seniors that has won more games than any in the history of the SEC. This was a huge game, but it was just one game. Stamper will treat it as such moving forward.

"A loss is a loss," he said.

Urban Meyer spoke to the team after the game and expressed that they have to move on and realize it has still been a very successful year.

"We still won 12 games," Haden told the media what Meyer was telling his distraught team in the locker room. "You are going to win some and lose some. Today they came out as the better team. We still have another game and we have to send the seniors out the right way."

Getting up for the bowl game and trying to win one more this season is the next thing on the agenda. The Gators are expected to be announced for the Sugar Bowl and they want to finish the season on a good note.

"We just know we have one more game left and we aren't going to go out and finish the season in a bad way," said Trattou. "We just have to go out and finish strong."

"We can't come out flat like this any more, we have to get our 13th win," said Howard. "We just have to go hard and get past this game."

For a little while, these Gators have to let it settle in that they aren't the number one team in the country. They have been that way since the opening kickoff of the season opener. It isn't going to be easy.

"It's tough…tough," said Hunter.

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