Jan 2, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel (6) is sacked by Louisville Cardinals defensive end Sheldon Rankins (98) during the second half of the Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

SEC Media Days: Sugar Bowl Left Florida "Embarrassed"

Jan 2, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel (6) is sacked by Louisville Cardinals defensive end Sheldon Rankins (98) during the second half of the Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Among the enduring images of the 2009 SEC championship game is a tearful Florida Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow. His goal of winning a third national championship, and second straight, was thwarted by eventual BCS titleholder Alabama.

Tebow and his Florida teammates sought redemption a month later in the Sugar Bowl, where they blasted undefeated Big East champion Cincinnati, 51-24.

The 2012 Florida Gators had their own championship dreams dashed by SEC East rival Georgia during the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. The Bulldogs won the tiebreaker to represent the division in the conference championship game.

In falling short against SEC West representative Alabama, Georgia had two losses and thus, was leaped in the BCS standings by Florida. The Gators were rewarded with a bid to the Sugar Bowl.

However, defensive tackle Dominique Easley’s comment at SEC Media Days suggests the Gators didn’t see it as such a reward.

The typically stout Gator defense surrendered a season high 33 points to the Big East champion Louisville Cardinals, and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater catapulted into the 2013 season’s Heisman Trophy discussion.

Louisville stunned Florida, scoring 14 first quarter points, and 24 in the first half. The Cardinal lead swelled to as much as 20 points in the third quarter.

The scenario played out oddly reminiscent to Utah’s 31-17 romp against Alabama in 2009. The Utes unveiled a hurry-up offensive scheme, allowing quarterback Brian Johnson to call plays at the line. Utah scored 21 first quarter points against a shocked Tide defense.

Perhaps the sluggish starts both Alabama and Florida suffered do suggest some kind of mental lethargy. That’s been a common refrain in both instances. To wit, FOX Sports South’s Steve Eubanks wrote after Florida’s Sugar Bowl loss:

Not to take anything away from Louisville’s performance, but Florida played this Sugar Bowl like it wanted to be home with its fans.

Will Muschamp put it differently:

“We got outplayed and outcoached,” coach Will Muschamp said. “That’s the bottom line. If you go out and get beat, you get beat. That’s what happened.”

Quarterback Jeff Driskel also painted a much different picture at SEC Media Days:

Regardless what kind of intangibles might have impacted January’s Sugar Bowl, Florida will kickoff the 2013 season with nearly eight months of time to refocus, readjust, or do whatever it must to make a run at something for which it won’t “take a game off.”

Tags: Florida Gators Football Louisville Cardinals SEC Media Days 2013 Utah Utes

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