GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida coach Will Muschamp believes he has a surefire way of keeping his team from overlooking Bowling Green in Saturday's season opener.
"I'll turn the tape on from last year and let our team watch that," Muschamp said. "You watch the Furman game?"
The 23rd-ranked Gators haven't forgotten the near-debacle against the lower-division Paladins. Or that embarrassing loss to rival Florida State the following week.
Those are Florida's last two home games — forgettable performances for sure. No doubt, then, that the Gators want to provide a better showing Saturday in The Swamp.
"We know that what we put out last year isn't University of Florida, and this season we have to change that," center Jon Harrison said. "That's our goal: to change. We've been working hard all offseason to change this season around."
Florida needed a victory in the Gator Bowl to avoid the team's first losing season since 1979. It was an eye-opener for many, including Muschamp. He hired a new offensive coordinator and revamped the team's weightlifting program in hopes of closing the gap on Southeastern Conference heavyweights Alabama and LSU.
If the changes work, Year 2 of the Muschamp era should go considerably smoother than 2011.
The Gators went 7-6 last season, which included four consecutive losses in October. They managed a combined 11 points in the second half against Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Georgia, and they didn't score a single point in the fourth quarter.
Needless to say, finishing was a big theme in the offseason and during fall practice.
"We're thinking of this as a new year, trying to redeem ourselves," right tackle Chas Green said.
It starts against the Falcons, a middle-of-the-pack team from the Mid-American Conference.
Bowling Green returns 17 starters, including 10 on defense, and seemingly heads south with some confidence.
"I think we have to talent and depth to give them a game and come out victorious," center Chip Robinson said.
Surely, the Falcons watched Florida struggle much of last season. They also know things could be very different under new offensive coordinator Brent Pease.
Pease spent the last six years at Boise State, helping direct one of the most prolific offenses in the country. Can he do the same at Florida?