Florida coach Ron Zook is hoping his young football got a lot more than win out of Saturday's home game against Arkansas. He's also hoping the Gators learned a valuable lesson.
The Gators led 38-7 with 3:30 left in the third quarter before allowing Arkansas to rally and cut the lead to 38-30 with 6:47 left in the game. The Gators survived the scare to win 45-30, but the game didn't have to be that close.
No. 12 Florida (3-1, 2-1 SEC) should have known better. The Gators led Arkansas 33-7 last year before holding on for a 33-28 victory.
"I just told these guys, enjoy this win because a lot of times you get in a game like that and lose," Zook said. "I don't know why things happen the way they do. But they happened last year. I told them I refused to let them walk out of the locker room feeling bad.
"The thing we have to do is be able to play a whole game like we did the first half. If I had the answer why we didn't, I probably wouldn't be coaching. It's something you have to continue to stress. When we had to have it, we did it."
The fans want winning to be impressive and overwhelming, but sometimes, given the competitive and dangerous nature of the SEC, winning is all that really matters.
"There's no reason to walk around here with our heads down," tailback Ciatrick Fason said. "We came up with the victory and that's all that matters."
Still, the Gators must realize that victory could have become a defeat.
"In the SEC, you have to be ready to play every day," safety Cory Bailey said. "You can't let up. You have to play a full 60 minutes."
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