2011 Florida Gators Football: Reviewing and Previewing the Season

John PattonContributor IOctober 20, 2011

Gator fans are looking forward to seeing John Brantley under center again.
Gator fans are looking forward to seeing John Brantley under center again.Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Hey, Gator fans, it's OK. Take a deep breath. There are worse things in the world than three straight losses, two of which were to the best teams in college football (Alabama and LSU) and the third was at defending BCS national champion Auburn.

To lighten things up a bit here, how about a joke.

Did you hear Dancing With the Stars wants Chris Rainey in next season's cast?

They like his one step forward, two steps back number.

OK, OK. It may not be that funny, but that might get more chuckles than it would have gotten last Sunday.

All I am trying to say is that it's not so bad to lighten up.

Callers to talk radio shows in the Gainesville area have been very critical of Florida's players, first-year head coach Will Muschamp and his staff in the last few days.

But the thing is, you had to know growing pains were a possibility. I know I did.

I can't explain the brutal punt return mishaps last weekend. I'm not sure anybody can.

But losing senior quarterback John Brantley for two-and-a-half games and replacing him with a pair of talented, but woefully inexperienced, freshmen against the Crimson Tide, Tigers and other Tigers would cause problems for anyone—especially a team implementing a pro-style offense with primarily spread pieces.

But let's take a big picture approach to this.

The Gators are in the middle of a much-needed off-week before what will be their biggest game of the year against red-hot Georgia on Oct. 29 in Jacksonville.

Florida controlled its own destiny in the SEC East prior to the ugly loss to the Tigers last weekend. Now, the Gators sit at 2-3 and are tied for third place behind the Dawgs and South Carolina, each of whom is 4-1.

It certainly isn't impossible to win the East if UF does its part and gets a few not-so-ridiculous bits of help.

It will require winning out in conference play, and that means defeating Georgia, which will enter the contest on a five-game winning streak, and getting a victory at South Carolina, a proposition that just got less difficult with stud Gamecocks' tailback Marcus Lattimore now out for the year.

On the help side, it is a very good possibility that South Carolina will lose at high-powered Arkansas on Nov. 5. The Bulldogs could get tripped up on Nov. 12 against visiting Auburn.

Couple those with the Gators topping Georgia, tougher-than-expected Vanderbilt and South Carolina and you can book rooms in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.

See, it isn't so cloudy now, is it?