November 14, 2011
It's Furman week for 5-5 Florida, which means the Gators will be gaining bowl eligibility on Saturday unless something unfathomable happens -- UF losing to an FCS school at home.
Bowl eligibility is a nice reward for the players, coaches and fans at the end of a tough season, but it's really important for this young Florida squad because it would mean two weeks worth of extra practice dates at the end of the regular season.
That's a huge advantage for a new coaching staff still molding its players for next season.
Even players that wont be around for 2012, like senior quarterback John Brantley, realize the importance of getting that extra work in.
"It's good for the program, good for the school," Brantley said. "I was a Gator before I came here, I'm going to be a Gator when I leave. I want to be able to see the program keep getting better and watch these young guys be successful here."
There's no doubt UF's players expected to be bowl eligible well before the 11th game of the season, but that doesn't necessarily ruin the bowl experience.
Brantley said he still enjoyed the team's bowl game in Tampa last year at the Outback Bowl, though it wasn't the caliber of bowl Brantley had become accustomed to during his first three years on campus.
Sophomore Sharrif Floyd said it still means something to play in the postseason, regardless of which bowl the Gators land.
"A bowl game is always good, not the bowl game we were expecting, but a bowl game is a bowl game," Floyd said.
UF head coach Will Muschamp also acknowledged the importance of getting to work with his team for an extra couple weeks and one extra game, giving the staff time to try to iron out some of the wrinkles.
Floyd said a lack of mental focus has done the team in all year long, including against South Carolina on Saturday.
"Florida beat Florida, not South Carolina beat Florida," Floyd said.