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Saturday, December 09, 2023

UF gets chance to show what it's made of Saturday

As of Saturday night, you'll know what type of men are on UF's football team.

That?s when the final score in Lexington, Ky., will be up, and it will show what the Gators are made of.

These players have a decision to make.

Will they let these circumstances devour them from within or will they become men and start becoming who they are for the rest of their lives?

Basically, it?s gut-check time, and it?s time for UF?s younger players to grow up.

I believe they will, too.

Urban Meyer has never used youth as an excuse this season, but he has still said it takes time for a young team to grow up.

When game time comes around, time?s up.

Contrary to the past two games, however, the Gators are ready this time.

They?ve gone through too much to not be ready.

The Gators have lost two straight games, had one of their senior captains arrested and lost a teammate.

That?s a lot.

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A humongous lot.

Especially when you?re dealing with a team full of 18- and 19-year-old kids, kids who soon need to become adults if the Gators want to turn around this skid - their first pair of consecutive losses since the Zook Era in 2004.

Kentucky and UF enter the weekend with huge amounts of intangibles, but in opposite ways.

While the Wildcats were drunk with fans-storming-the-field ecstasy Saturday night, the Gators were inebriated with grief.

One team is strutting around as kings.

The other is just trying to make it through a week without an arrest or another tragedy.

When the least of UF?s problems is losing, the Gators are in a hole.

My money?s on the Gators pulling through - barely.

At the beginning of the season, I thought Kentucky could easily upset UF.

It would be Andre? Woodson and the Wildcats? stage, the date they had circled on their calendar.

But the big game came a week earlier than expected.

Now they?re trying to repeat the performance of their lives.

It has happened before, but it?s easier to get back to a high than to sustain that level of play.

The Wildcats have earned respect, and nobody can say they aren?t a great team.

Just ask LSU.

Now it?s up to UF to win respect back.

The Gators have gone through as difficult a three-week period as anybody, and they must prove their maturity Saturday.

Meyer won?t have to talk about the youth in the postgame press conference because it won?t be apparent after Saturday?s game.UF doesn?t have a shot at the national title this season, but next year the Gators will point to this game as their turning point.

They?re playing a highly ranked team on the road, and this team is too determined not to find a way to win.

Kentucky fans should enjoy today, because they are not going to be smiling come Saturday night.

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