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Saturday, May 21, 2022
<p><span id="docs-internal-guid-f36f139a-7fff-e4f5-ab26-c4e0beaa63af"><span>Wide receiver Josh Hammond didn't record a catch in last year's 42-7 loss to Georgia. "The past is the past," he said. "We have to let go of it.</span></span></p>

Wide receiver Josh Hammond didn't record a catch in last year's 42-7 loss to Georgia. "The past is the past," he said. "We have to let go of it.

Running back Jordan Scarlett remembers the frustration of watching Florida-Georgia last year washing over him like a wave surrounding a rock.

He felt helpless, just like that rock before it sinks back into the sea, because he was suspended indefinitely at the time and couldn’t contribute to the team. Scarlett watched the game with former UF receiver Antonio Callaway from the unenviable position of his home.  

“We just felt like we could make a difference,” Scarlett said. “Just watching the offense struggle last year was just a problem for me and him.”

A lot has changed since nearly a year ago. Scarlett is back with the team and thriving in his starting role, leading the team with 381 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

Florida’s troubles of a 4-7 season are far behind, as it sits as the No. 9 team in the country. And a new coach ushers in a new era in Gators football, one without the lull of supposedly made-up death threats and mediocrity as the norm.

Scarlett isn’t the only Gator that was affected by the memories of last season’s Florida-Georgia beatdown.

Quarterback Feleipe Franks doesn’t remember much of the pregame drama. Former coach Jim McElwain was on his way out of the program, and he even told his players he expected that game to be his last.

“To be honest I can vaguely remember it,” Franks said. “My mind hasn’t been too focused on that, haven’t thought about that. Just focused on this weekend and playing Georgia and stuff.”

Like with Scarlett, the Franks from last year was much different than the one from this season. The redshirt sophomore quarterback only threw for nine touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2017. He has 15 touchdowns and five picks through seven games this season.

“I always knew we’ve had really good players,” Franks said. “At the same time, we’ve always had good players, it’s just been when can we put it all together, when can we make it all happen?”

Some of Florida’s players wanted to reflect on the past. Receiver Josh Hammond wants to leave it behind him.

Of course, he remembers the feeling of having to go through McElwain’s departure and sitting through the uncertainty of the future. He believes, though, that everyone has moved on.

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“The past is in the past,” Hammond said. “We have let go of it. We are just worried about this year and worried about going out to practice and execute and get ready to compete and try to get better.”

Hammond said the team is just focused on making Florida-Georgia, No. 9 vs No. 7, live up to the hype.

The Gators spent the bye week resting and rejuvenating. They hardly thought about Georgia. But this week, Florida is all-in on the Bulldogs.

“It’s a great feeling. I think knowing it’s a big game, it gets guys ready to play,” Hammond said. “It gets them amped up. I think we will be ready to play. We got to prepare all week for it.”

 

Follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake or contact him at jdreilinger@alligator.org.

 

Wide receiver Josh Hammond didn't record a catch in last year's 42-7 loss to Georgia. "The past is the past," he said. "We have to let go of it.

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