Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gators Seek Swagger UF Hopes to Regain Its Winning Ways

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gators Seek Swagger UF Hopes to Regain Its Winning Ways

Article excerpt

ORLANDO -- Jon Hoke had been on the sidelines at the University of Florida all of two games before it hit him full force.

It began early in the week during preparations for the Tennessee game, when Gator players ran their mouths and bowed their chests at weekly media interviews.

It was Hoke's first look at UF's swagger and moxy " the cocky confidence of championship teams " since he arrived as the new defensive coordinator.

He hasn't seen it since.

"The Thursday before the game, there were 85 guys who knew we were going to beat Tennessee," Hoke said. "It didn't matter that they were the reigning national champions, there were 85 guys who knew they were going to beat Tennessee. When did they lose [the swagger]? It's hard to put your finger on one incident.

"I know this: We need to get it back."

Back in time to save a season.

Who knows what really shook the confidence and swagger of the 10th-ranked Gators, the team that had risen to one of the top three winningest programs in the 1990s under coach Steve Spurrier?

Maybe it was the way things unfolded in an overtime loss to Alabama and the loss of a 30-game home winning streak, or the constant badgering by the coaching staff. Or the quarterback controversy, or the countless mental mistakes.

Somewhere along the line, the team that thought it was invincible in Week 3 has deteriorated into a team searching for answers going into today's Citrus Bowl against ninth-ranked Michigan State.

"We lost a bit. We've lost a little bit of the confidence that we can go up and down the field on offense," Spurrier said. "The only way to get it back is to do it several times. Success breads more success."

Right now, the Gators are sitting on a two-game losing streak, and in danger of reaching a low point never hit in 10 years under Spurrier. …

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