Gameday with the Gators
Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 28, 2004
6:00 – Terry Moore sits on a weight bench listening to headphones, trying to block out the urge to get out on the field. The waiting continues as the players sit around talking, tying their shoes and bringing out their shoulder pads and helmets.
6:15 – The first group of players kickers, returners and quarterbacks heads out to the field. The second group of skill players then comes out of the fieldhouse. Wide receivers work with the quarterbacks on pass-timing, while the kickers continue to practice punts and field goals.
6:40 – Both Madison and Vicksburg send out their main groups of players. The Gators join together at the 35-yard line where they holler and clap in unison. They spread out and begin their stretches, while a little trash-talking starts at midfield. The team ends with a huddle and cheers before heading back into the fieldhouse to wait for the introductions.
7:00 – The Gators put on the final pieces of their uniforms the jerseys and helmets before they listen to the pre-game speech from Stevens.
“This is what you’ve been working for the whole year,” he says. “You’re right where you need to be. This is the time.”
7:15 – The team goes back to the field, runs through the paper sign to the sidelines and the game is set to begin.
7:45 – Madison recovers a fumble for its second touchdown early in the first quarter, and doubt starts to creep into the minds of the Gators.
8:25 – Vicksburg enters the fieldhouse down 32-0 at halftime. This wasn’t the game they expected for homecoming as the defense struggled for the first time all season with Madison racking up 205 rushing yards in the first half.
“Everything you ever worked for, you just flushed it down the toilet,” Tadlock tells the defense in the locker room.
8:35- While the homecoming court is being introduced outside, players on the offense begin squabbling and arguing in the weight room after being held to 35 yards of offense in the first half. Assistant coach Toriano Wells has to break them up before it gets out of control.
“You’ve got to search inside for character, follow what we’ve been doing, correct that and go back in the second half,” he tells them. “You’ve got to stay together.”
9:45 – The weary, downtrodden Gators shuffle back into the fieldhouse. The defense held strong in the second half, not allowing any more points, but the offense never came along for a 32-0 loss. The defeat puts the Gators out of the playoffs.
Stevens brings the team together for a speech.
“We’re going to finish this season on a positive note,” he says. “The guys who are with me, come on, if not, no hard feelings … We’ve got to get over that and pick ourselves up.”
After the coaches walk back to the office, the players huddle up with their hands together in the air and chant before hitting the showers and heading home.
Another week of preparations started on Sunday, and the Gators will be back at it again on Friday, fighting for the last two games of the season. Together.