The last time these two teams faced each other, things didn’t go so well for the Florida Gators (9-3). As a matter of fact, there are some players in this Florida football team that have had two bad experiences with the Wolverines (10-2) in the las three years. In less than two weeks, the Gators get a chance to prove how far they have come against the No. 7 ranked Wolverines.
To lead off last season, Florida travelled to Dallas, Texas to face Michigan and came home with a 33-17 lump on their head that was much worse than the final score would indicate. At the conclusion of the 2015 season Florida played in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl and were whooped again 41-7 in a score that was very indicative of the game that was played.
Two embarrassing losses to a national power program and these No. 10 Gators may have something to prove that they have come a long way since then.
Junior quarterback Feleipe Franks remembers that game and how good that Michigan team was a year ago.
“Coach Mullen wasn’t here, but these guys, we played them last year and they were a super good team,” Franks said last week. “(They’ve) got a super good team and I think our guys are ready to play them. We look forward to playing big-time games like this.
“(It’s) obviously, a big turnaround from last year when we went 4-7 or whatever, now playing in a New Years Six Bowl. It’s another opportunity for us to go out there and play, opportunities for a bunch of these guys to go out there and show what their talents are made of and play in a big-time game.”
Franks is a different quarterback than a year ago. He started the contest and went just 5-of-9 for 75 yards before being replaced by grad transfer Malik Zaire. Franks struggled most of last year and has improved a lot throwing for 23 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2018. He believes they will show the improvement in a couple of weeks.
“We’ve played a whole season already so I think that’s kinda shown a little bit from where we’ve grown from last year,” Franks said. “And I mean being able to play this extra game, it’ll be an opportunity for us to keep on just showcasing on what we’ve improved on from last year to this year and especially playing a team that we played last year that pretty much dominated the game. It’s another opportunity for us to go out there and show on certain points where we got better, playing the same team.”
Junior linebacker David Reese believes the offense will be a big difference this time around. In the 17 points scored by the Gators in last year’s contest, 14 were interceptions for touchdowns, scored by the defense.
“As a team, our offense did a great job of putting points up on the board, getting us off the field,” Reese said about this 2018 season. “(In the) Michigan game last year, we had two turnovers on defense that we scored but we didn’t score on offense that whole game. But looking from then to now, we’re scoring about 30-40 points a game, being able to stop people, getting off the field, it’s been a whole 360, especially on the offensive side of the ball.”
Junior receiver Josh Hammond is having his best year as a Gator, gathering 26 receptions for 308 yards and four touchdowns and believes that Michigan is going to see an entirely different team.
“I think it’ll be different,” Hammond said. “I think we have all the different offense and scheme of how we do things now in this offense. “I think the preparation will be different from last year to this year going into this game. And that’s just the thing, we’ve gotta continue to work hard. Not just me, but our whole offense and defense and our whole team. We’ve just gotta continue to work and get better to prepare us for this game coming up.”
We have seen with our own eyes the improvement of the Gator team from the last several years. Michigan, despite being blown out in its last game against Ohio State is a better team than Florida faced in the last two meetings as well. In two weeks we will see which has made the bigger strides.