October Will Determine Success for Gators

As the Gators break in a new quarterback and multiple new starters on defense, the schedule sets up perfectly. Florida gets four games, three at home, to get things in order before the month of October starts. It's the month that could decide the success of the season.

Florida couldn't have drawn the September schedule up any more perfect. John Brantley has been on campus for three seasons, but this will be his first season as the starting quarterback. Add in a defense that loses six starters, and there is plenty of work for the Gators do to in the first month.

They have the easy first game against Miami (OH), followed by an emotional game against instate USF. The Gators then hit the road for the first time, heading to Knoxville to play in one of the toughest road environments in the SEC. Florida will then play Kentucky at home to close out September.

October is the month that determines it all. Florida starts the month in Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama in one of the biggest regular season games of the year. From there, the Gators have no room to celebrate a win or pout over a defeat, as the LSU Tigers come to Gainesville a week later.

A home date with Mississippi State follows for the homecoming game on October 16, followed by an off-week to allow the Gators to catch their breath. The last weekend in October signifies the matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville to close out the month.

Outside of the four October games, the regular season schedule for the Gators seems manageable.

The trip into Bryant-Denny Stadium to take on Alabama won't be a complete shock for the Gators. The Tennessee game plays perfectly into this. The young players for Florida will play in front of a crowd more than 100,000 in Knoxville. The Volunteers won't be as strong as usual this season, so assuming the Gators come out with a win, playing in that environment will only sharpen the young players for the Alabama game.

October will also test the young Gators' ability to handle success or deal with adversity. After the Alabama game, Florida has to turn around and take on a talented LSU team in Gainesville the following week. The fear is easy to understand. If the Gators beat Alabama, they could get overconfident in the week before playing LSU. If the Gators lose to Alabama, there's the fear of a young team folding the tents and getting frustrated.

Dan Mullen will have his Mississippi State team ready to play. It will be Mullen's first trip to The Swamp since serving as the offensive coordinator for the Florida team that won the national championship in 2008.

The Gators will end the month against a Georgia team that looks to be their best since 2007. Georgia breaks in a new quarterback with Aaron Murray, but he has a veteran offensive line and experienced playmakers around him to make the transition smooth. The success of the Bulldogs' season could come down to how quickly they pick up the 3-4 scheme that new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham implemented.

Despite the outcome of the four games in October, a young Florida team will gain toughness for the stretch run. They just hope they can use that toughness in a race for a spot in the SEC Championship.
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