'Remember back in October'

Florida players are motivated by the memory a winless October in 2011

Updated: August 3, 2012, 8:27 AM ET
By Michael DiRocco | GatorNation

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- James Wilson has been on top of the college football world. It was back in 2008, when he and his Florida teammates won the program's third national title.

It is a feeling he'll cherish forever.

But he's been at the bottom, too. It was last October, when the Gators failed to win a game and were embarrassed in losses to Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Georgia.

That feeling won't go away, either -- and he and most of his teammates don't really want it to.

"I've been through some good times here, bad times here," Wilson said Thursday during UF's annual media day. "Last season wasn't Florida standard and I think we all know that, and we just really want to build to make sure that doesn't happen again."

Sharrif Floyd
Jeff Barlis/ESPN.comFlorida defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd prefers to forget about 2011 and move on to 2012.
The winless October -- in which the Gators were out-rushed 804-175 and outscored 120-47 -- ruined coach Will Muschamp's first season. It also will potentially have an effect on his second, too, because it has been the players' motivation throughout offseason workouts.

Extra reps, extra sprints, longer sessions, all because the players can't bear to go through it again.

"We don't ever want to forget that feeling," receiver Frankie Hammond Jr., said. "All the coaches remind us. The players remind us. When we're down and out and we were going through those summer sessions or those spring sessions, it's like, 'Remember back in October.'

"You don't want to feel that again, so you keep putting in that work so it'll pay off in the end."

That was UF's first winless month since the Gators went 0-3 in September 1986. There were extenuating circumstances, though. Starting quarterback John Brantley was injured late in the first half of the 38-10 loss to Alabama and he missed the LSU and Auburn games. Freshman Jacoby Brissett played against LSU and he also started the Auburn game before giving way to freshman Jeff Driskel in the second half.

Brantley returned for the Georgia game, but he was nowhere near 100 percent. He could hardly move on the ankle and the Gators were forced into using the pistol formation.

But that doesn't really matter. The results do, and they weren't pretty. The players were embarrassed and humiliated.

As painful as it is, Muschamp wants them to remember.

"I told them, 'Don't ever forget the feeling,' " he said. "I told them that in the locker room after the games.

"There's a key to every kid and there's a key to every student-athlete. It's your job as a coach to find the keys. But I know one thing: Embarrassment and failure are huge motivators for competitors, and I think we have a lot of competitors and a lot of prideful guys on our football team that take a lot of pride in their performance representing the University of Florida, and we certainly didn't do a very good job."

Right guard Jon Halapio still winces when the subject is brought up because he knows the offensive line was a big reason the Gators weren't competitive with Alabama and LSU.

"It still sticks to us, just having flashbacks to everything that went wrong last year," Halapio said. "We were out-physicaled at times, most of the time up front. We definitely talk about that all the time. It just motivates us to push us more."

There's at least one player, however, who isn't following his teammates' example. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is going with amnesia.

"What happened in October?" he asked.

Then he paused and smiled. August 2012 is much more important than October 2011, he said.

"It's in the past," Floyd said. "We're focusing on what we've got coming and this camp right here."

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter