Tabor, Gators determined to prove one bad half doesn't define team
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – It’s been awhile since the Gators have had a positive story.
First there was the second-half collapse in Knoxville. That was followed by an underwhelming performance at Vanderbilt, leading to a 13-6 win that didn’t exactly scare anyone in the SEC. And, of course, last week, fans of LSU and other teams affected by the result of the game, pushed a narrative on social media that the Gators hid behind Hurricane Matthew as an excuse not to play the Bayou Bengals.
Cornerback Teez Tabor isn’t worried about the way things appear to be trending. He said the way he and his teammates see it, if it weren’t for the second half at Tennessee, the Gators would be recognized as one of the top teams in the nation.
“We’ve played pretty good football except for one half of one game,” Tabor said. “One half of football and we’re probably one of the best teams in the country. If you take away one half of football, no doubt in my mind.”
At the same media availability, Tabor was asked a few questions later about pass interference concerns when playing aggressive coverage. He couldn’t help but talk about what was really on his mind.
“Man, that’s going to happen. We’re a press-man team. We’re going to be physical with you. We’re not going to let you get free releases,” Tabor said. “Like I said, if you take away one half of football, man, that’s scary. One half of football. I think we gave up seven to UMass. Kentucky, six, seven. Who was after that? North Texas, zero. Tennessee in the first half, three. Vanderbilt, six. One half of football. But that happens, though. We learned our lesson.”
One lesson he hasn’t learned is to avoid giving the opponent any bulletin board material. When asked if he was excited about facing Missouri QB Drew Lock, he didn’t mention the signal-caller in his answer.
“Yeah. SEC got a lot of good players,” Tabor said. “Every team’s got good players. It’s always a challenge.”
Naturally, the reporter pressed Tabor about facing the SEC’s No. 1 passer.
“I think we’re No. 1 too,” he said.
The Gators are No. 1 in the SEC in passing defense. Slowing down the Mizzou passing offense would certainly be a sign that the Gators have learned from the mistakes of the Tennessee game. Randy Shannon, the team’s co-defensive coordinator, prefers not to focus on what happened in Week 4.
“Believe it or not, you can’t change anything around from the past. You’ve got to move forward,” Shannon said. “What happened in the past, you can’t change it. The only thing you can change is what happens in the present. That’s the only thing we can continue to work on. We cannot as a football team think about something in the future, if we don’t take care of our business right now.
“Me, personally, I’ve moved on. We’ve moved onto everything else. We think about this Missouri team that, like I said fellas, they have nine explosive plays every game. That’s a scary situation for a defense. We’ve got to control that part of the game.”
While Mizzou’s explosive play tendencies worry Shannon, Tabor is excited for the challenge.
“Yeah, as a defensive back you like teams that throw the ball. It’s high risk, high reward,” Tabor said. “You can get bombed and torched up or you can make some money. Put up or shut up.”