Season Goals Remain Intact

Brandon Hicks

Brandon Hicks fixed his eyes on the long-term goals when Saturday night's game came to an end. Getting blown out in Tuscaloosa wasn't what any of the Florida players expected. The work put in preparing for the game made it tough to get over, but there is a sudden sense of realization around the players. All of their offseason goals remain intact.

"Some coaches say that a team is only as good as how they bounce back and stick together," Brandon Hicks said. "This actually opened our eyes and made us feel like we can be beaten. There's no going back. It's only going forward and getting stronger as a team."

The Florida defense wasn't gashed by a dynamic Alabama offense. The Crimson Tide managed 273 yards of offense, with only 84 coming from quarterback Greg McElroy through the air. The two-headed rushing attack of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson combined for only 110 yards.

Going into the game, the Gators would have taken all of those statistics and felt good about their chances. However, it was the 202 yards of offense Alabama rolled up in the first half that allowed them to cruise to victory.

"They capitalized off our mistakes," Hicks said. "Like every good team, they take advantage of the little bit that is given. We feel like we've seen our mistakes on film over and over… all the coula, woulda, shouldas."

The Florida offense couldn't pick up the slack that the defense allowed in the first half. The Gators capitalized with only two field goals in the entire game. They were 1-for-4 in the red zone, sending immediate frustration throughout the offense when they couldn't punch the ball in during the first drive with three chances from the two-yard line.

"It doesn't matter how many points our offense scores," Hicks said. "If they kick a field, we should win. Any defense in America should always think that way. We should be the ones to stop the big plays."

Hicks is now pushing for his teammates to forget about the loss. It can drive them to success, or it can eat at them and become their focus. If the team doesn't work as hard in preparation for LSU as they did against Alabama, they could be looking at a two-game losing streak.

"I don't want them to think about it at all," Hicks said. "We still have a lot of games to play. If we capitalize on each week and keep winning games, we definitely plan on seeing them again."

In order for that rematch to happen, the Gators know there is improvement and maturation that must happen. Hicks admits some of it must come in better communication between the veteran players and the freshmen. As more young players see playing time in their first year, communication is important for both groups.

"There was a fine line between young and old. Once we all came together and age doesn't matter, it's just how you play and approach the game that's important to us."

The rivalry with LSU is one that has always stood out in Hicks' mind. The Tigers were in his top five schools while the linebacker was being recruited, so playing them is more special than most.

"It's always been a big game," Hicks said. "They've always been a great team to me. Their players have been recruited by our coaches, and we've been recruited by their coaches. It's all on which team is prepped the best. No one has bad players. It's your decision to go to what school you want to, and it's on your position group to have the best preparation to win."

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