October 7, 2012

Simonton: Validation



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    It was just one win.

    But damn if it didn't mean something.

    By now, nearly everyone has seen the viral celebration video (LSU post game lockerroom). Will Muschamp's postgame pretexts should fall on deaf ears. You don't crowd-surf into a team of ecstatic players after whipping Kentucky.

    This one was special.

    "It's a good win, but I know we're going to go out of hand with this. This is one win, it doesn't count for one-and-a half and it doesn't count for two."

    Technically, he's right.

    Technically.

    It counts for validation. And for Muschamp, that should equal infinity, even if he won't admit it.

    After suffering through an embarrassing 7-6 transition year a season ago, Muschamp's No. 4 Gators Johnny Hancocked their way back to national relevancy with Saturday's old-school bullying of then-No. 4 LSU.

    "That was typical 1980's SEC right there," he said. "That was a physical, physical football game."

    For 18 months, Muschamp has talked about "the process," but following a more-than-lackluster opener against Bowling Green, many questioned if the ship was even on course.

    Guess so.

    Florida's 2011 campaign was defined by fourth-quarter fades and a 30-point thumping at the hands of the Tigers.

    The only fades on the 2012 squad belong to 'Juice' Johnson and a dozen other guys' high-top hairdos.

    "We pounded it into their heads," said Muschamp on the sobering 72-22 fourth quarter stat.

    "It worked."

    How's 41-0 in five games sound?

    "As a competitor, you take that personal, and we have a competitive bunch," Muschamp said.

    Pride.

    Respect.

    Validation.

    Muschamp called his team soft last season, and after months of agonizing work, criticism and collaboration (see: strength coach Jeff Dillman, line coach Tim Davis and Muschamp too), Saturday's drop-kicking culminated like the perfect storm.

    It was never supposed to be pretty.

    It's all part of the "process."

    Florida abused what many considered one of the nation's elite. LSU's suddenly-dysfunctional offense -- albeit battered with line injuries and ineffective quarterback play -- was nearly shutout in the Swamp.

    Line of scrimmage domination.

    "We wanted to come in and hurt them," end Dominique Easley said. "We wanted them to feel the pain that we had last year. We had hurt in our hearts, so we wanted them to feel the pain that we had."

    Texas A&M was nice, and Tennessee was better, but on a real national stage, the Gators stamped their resurgence by gashing a premier Tigers team with physicality and misdirection.

    "We want to take somebody's will. We like to take people's will, not just win the game. Take their will and make them remember this night," Easley said.

    LSU won't be the only team to recall Oct. 6, 2012.

    At the same time the Gators redefined their toughness, several of Florida's biggest rivals were rendered national frauds following humiliating defeats.

    Florida State, Georgia and Miami all went home licking its wounds as none appeared ready for Prime Time.

    On Saturday, the Gators proved they were.

    Emphatically.

    Validation. The process.

    The perfect storm.




     

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