Florida talked all offseason. It’s easy to imagine that it continued on the field for the first 30 minutes of the game as the Gators built an early 21-0 edge.
But a furious 38-0 rally by Tennessee had to be a humbling experience for a Florida team that was incredibly vocal about its dominance of the Vols heading into the game on Saturday.
“I hope they take a big lesson,” said coach Jim McElwain when asked about the Gators talking trash and guaranteeing a victory for this game. “In life, there are a lot of good things in being humble. As I said, back it up. They didn’t back it up. There might be a lesson.”
“Learning from this, having this draw us closer together and becoming a better team of it,” added linebacker Alex Anzalone. “Coach McElwain mentioned it can humble a lot of guys and I think that’s good for our team, even though it had to happen this way.”
Quarterback Austin Appleby said earlier in the week that “all stadiums are the same” when asked about playing in the hostile atmosphere of Neyland Stadium. Nebraska was the biggest and most hostile environment he’d previously started in, and after a fast start against UT, Appleby wasn’t able to move the ball with any regularity against the Vols in the second half as Tennessee made its comeback.
The graduate transfer, who made his first start for the Gators on Saturday, admitted that Neyland did seem to give the Vols a boost in the second half.
“I think it had a lot to do with their crowd,” Appleby said. “Their offense started going, created a tempo … hats off to them. They did a really good job and we will be okay. We’ll make the corrections, we’ve got a lot to watch, we left a lot out there. We still put up 28 in a hostile place; I’m proud of the way our guys fought. I wouldn’t want to be out there with anyone else.”