It started with a dramatic 28-24 loss to LSU, a game in which the Gators led all but the final 69 seconds. The loss gave the Gators two consecutive losses for the first time since midway through the 2004 season under former coach Ron Zook.
In the aftermath of the defeat,
Before the Gators could start working toward getting back, senior safety Tony Joiner met with reporters for the first time since being arrested Oct. 2 on felony burglary charges for removing his girlfriend's car from an impound lot before paying the fee.
Joiner admitted, "I'm ashamed of myself, especially going through that with a big game coming up and having the focus on me and not on my team was extremely tough on me."
Then quarterback Tim Tebow revealed that he had to change his cell phone number after receiving hundreds of threatening messages the previous week. "It was an interesting experience handling it all," Tebow said.
The Gators then attempted to get
back to normal during an open date. They suffered the worst kind of loss when
Michael Guilford, a 19-year-old walk-on defensive back, was killed early Friday
morning in a motorcycle crash. His roommate, redshirt freshman defensive lineman
John Fairbanks, was the first to arrive at the scene to identify
"That was probably one of the worst
experiences in my entire life,"
"It's so incredibly empty (not having him around), I can't even describe it. Off the field he was probably the most genuine person I had ever met. He was free and fun-loving and goofy. He rarely made people feel uncomfortable when he was around them. I just know that's what I'm really going to miss."
Guilford, nicknamed "Sunshine"
because of his resemblance to the character in "Remember The Titans," wasn't
destined for stardom but played a valuable role for the Gators, often playing
the part of the opposing team's star player on the scout team. Before the SEC
championship game he tried to imitate
In his role,
"Everybody was impressed that he wasn't afraid of anybody," junior defensive back Telly Concepcion told the Sun. "(Brandon) Siler would pop him or Earl (Everett) or anyone else would hit him and he would just get right back up and go run another (play). He earned the team's respect, whether it was the seniors or the starters or anyone, even though he was on the scout team. ... He was definitely a leader of the offensive scout team."
As if the two game losses aren't
heavy enough, the Gators will carry a heavy heart into Saturday's match against
In a way, the consecutive losses
That's just one of the priorities
The defense must find a way to get
off the field.
"This will give us time to regroup,
get our minds together, and start game planning for
The Gators are going to be very good again – maybe not this week, or this month, or even this season, but at some point. Who thought the Gators would win the national championship at this point last season? You never know how a team will respond to adversity or how players will grow and mature, but the Gators are putting together the elements of another national championship contender.
"For certain, the team's future is
still bright," Tebow said. "We can still make it to
"It's been a tough week. Coming off
the loss to
Richard Scott is a Birmingham-based sportswriter, author and featured columnist in Tiger Rag. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.