Here’s what ESPN says it learned about Florida in Week 3

·3 min read

Florida came up just short of pulling off one of its biggest wins in years, as a potential game-tying two-point conversion try couldn’t get across the goal line and the Gators lost, 31-29. Still, it was even closer than last year’s exciting shootout in the SEC Championship, and it was in fact the closest an SEC East team has played Alabama since the Crimson Tide were upset by South Carolina in 2010.

Despite the loss in the record book, it seems that UF has earned quite a bit of national clout for hanging with UA down to the wire. Here’s what ESPN’s Alex Scarborough said he learned about Florida in Week 3.

Don’t forget about Florida

There are no moral victories in the SEC. There are only wins and losses, and at the end of the day, Florida lost to Alabama. But how the Gators lost should tell us a lot about their chances moving forward. Despite a terrible start and despite not having one of its best offensive weapons, Florida was only a two-point conversion away from taking the No. 1 team in the country to overtime. The defense, which last season was so terrible, wasn’t that bad, especially in the second half. If the Gators can cut down on pass interference penalties and make more than the occasional open-field tackle, they could be pretty good, in fact.

But it’s the offense that showed the most promise. The line, despite injuries, was terrific. Emory Jones had all day to throw the football, and when he settled down after a rocky first quarter, he was fairly accurate. His ability as a runner, combined with a loaded backfield of Dameon Pierce, Malik Davis and Nay’Quan Wright, gives coach Dan Mullen a lot to work with. When quarterback Anthony Richardson comes back from his hamstring injury, that’s even more firepower to call upon.

While Florida wasn’t perfect against Alabama — far from it at times — and a loss is a loss, Mullen and the Gators appeared to find something that could challenge Georgia in the East and pave a way to a possible rematch with Alabama in the SEC title game.

Ultimately, whether this is a successful season in the eyes of Gators fans will likely depend on how that matchup in Jacksonville goes. The Bulldogs appear to be stout defensively once again, but perhaps we overrated the group after shutting down a Clemson offense that has looked anemic even in wins over South Carolina State and Georgia Tech.

They seem to be figuring things out a bit offensively with J.T. Daniels, but that game looks much more winnable now than it did just a couple of weeks ago. Florida has a lot of areas to improve upon, but all of its goals are still on the table, aside from a perfect season.

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