GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Taven Bryan didn’t hear David Reese’s comments directly, but he agreed with the sentiment expressed.
As a refresher, Reese, a sophomore linebacker, said after Florida’s 45-16 loss to Missouri that it was “sad to see” the lack of collective effort from the team against the Tigers.
“We just didn’t come out as one,” Reese said. “We didn’t have the energy we needed. We didn’t play together as a unit.”
That was clear Saturday.
The defense gave up season-worst marks in points (45) and yards from scrimmage (455) against a Missouri team that had gone 0-5 against Power 5 opponents before defeating the Gators.
For the third time in their current four-game losing streak, the Gators gave up more than 200 rushing yards after holding all three opponents during their three-game win streak before that to 183 or fewer.
The offense had some flashes but saw drives stall before reaching the end zone. Florida’s lone touchdown came in garbage time late in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t know,” Reese added. “It just wasn’t as personal to us as it should have been.”
Two days later, the comments are still resonating with the team as it prepares for a three-week stretch of the season that is essentially all must-win games. At 3-5, Florida needs to win its final three games — Saturday on the road at South Carolina and a pair of home games against UAB and Florida State — to secure bowl eligibility.
And it’s an underclassman in Reese leading the charge.
“[The comments] were very true,” defensive lineman Khairi Clark said. “We’ve got to follow the expectations like that.”
Bryan added: “It’s really good for someone to fill in and step up to be a leader.”
Both Bryan and interim coach Randy Shannon said Monday that the defense has had leaders all season. But with each passing injury to the few veterans on that side of the ball — first Marcell Harris, then Nick Washington, then Jordan Sherit — the onus has begun to fall on the younger guys to pick up the slack and rally the troops.
“We really need some leaders that are really going to lead the way,” Bryan said.
Enter Reese, who had no problem taking on that role on Saturday.
“We haven’t come out and haven’t played as a unit,” Clark said, “and I feel like we need to start doing that before the season is over.”
That message applies to the entire team — from the fifth-year seniors to the true freshmen to the coaching staff.
The Gators know the season has not gone their way. In a matter of three months, Florida went from opening the season with a chance to make their third straight SEC Championship Game to seeing their coach fired and barely holding on to a chance to make a bowl game.
“The culture of the Florida Gators is togetherness,” offensive lineman Tyler Jordan said, “and we need to bring that back.”
That starts by embracing the challenge Reese presented on Saturday.
“That’s going to be that silver lining,” Jordan said. “We’ve had a hell of a year. It’s been crazy, but if we can pull it out, we can get to a bowl game.”
The post Florida players react to David Reese’s postgame comments about lack of effort appeared first on SEC Country.
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