Florida linemen Richard Gouraige and Gervon Dexter don’t fit the profile of bowl game participants in 2022.
Gouraige is a fifth-year senior with a Senior Bowl invitation. Dexter declared for the NFL last week after receiving a second-round grade from the league’s Draft Advisory Board.
Each will line up for the Gators one last time Saturday at the Las Vegas Bowl against No. 14 Oregon State.
Neither player has much to gain, while injury risk is omnipresent. Yet, both feel obligated to finish the season despite a 6-6 record under a first-year coaching staff.
“We’re blessed to get that last game,” Dexter, the team’s top defensive tackle, said Monday night. “So I’m just doing it for the love of the game and for the love of my teammates. I just wanted to finish it off strong with them.
“We won that sixth game [to become bowl eligible], so I felt like it was the right thing to do.”
Gouraige said playing in the bowl was a no-brainer, dating to his first season in 2018.
“When I started this journey, since my freshman year, I always told myself I wanted to finish this season,” he recalled Monday.
Credit the mother of Florida’s left tackle.
“My mom always just told me finish what you started,” Gouraige said. “I just always carried that with everything I do.”
But Dexter and Gouraige are outliers, even on their own team.
Quarterback Anthony Richardson, linebacker Ventrell Miller, receiver Justin Shorter and guard O’Cyrus Torrence will skip the game to begin NFL preparations. Each also could use rest.
Richardson left several games this season with ankle soreness, while taking a beating; Miller missed a game-and-a-half with a foot injury requiring pain-killing shots for several weeks; Shorter missed three of the final four games with a hamstring injury; and Torrence sat out an Oct. 15 loss to LSU with a knee sprain.
Even so, Gouraige is set to make his 13th start in 2022 and 42nd for the Gators, which would generate wear and tear on anyone’s body.
“I know some guys have different situations. I understand that,” he said. “I’m just the guy who wants to finish the season strong with my brothers. Then onto the next chapter.”
Also playing into the decisions is Napier and his staff’s efforts to engender a sense of brotherhood among players.
“This is what Coach Napier preaches all the time: Just be a good teammate,” Dexter said. “So I’m just trying to be here to be a good teammate and finish it.”
Torrence earns All-America: Torrence made more of his one season in Gainesville than anyone could’ve imagined. After all, the Louisiana transfer’s impact was unprecedented.
Torrence became the first offensive guard in school history to become consensus All-America, earning a spot on the first team selected the Sporting News on Tuesday after landing on the Walter Camp Football and Associated Press squads.
Torrence is the 34th overall and fifth Florida offensive lineman to earn consensus All-America, joining Lomas Brown (1984), Jason Odom (1995), Mike Pearson (2001) and Maurkice Pouncey (2009).
Torrence followed Napier from Louisiana, where the 6-foot-5, 347-pounder started three seasons. In Gainesville, Torrence anchored a unit opening holes for a rushing attack averaging 5.8 yards a carry, third among 131 teams, and 213.7 yards (16th).
Pro Football Focus graded him the nation’s top guard, completing his assignment at an 88% rate while not allowing a sack or committing a penalty during 698 snaps.
Spurrier remembers Leach: During 12 seasons at Florida, Steve Spurrier revolutionized passing in college football during the 1990s.
Mike Leach carried the torch into the 21st century.
Following Leach’s untimely death Tuesday at age 61, Spurrier shared insight into what made him so successful.
“The key to his offensive success was the repetition,” Spurrier said on Gainesville’s WRUF. “We tried to throw the ball all day, too, and we ran the ball a whole bunch more and had tight ends and all that … but we tried to do the repetition thing over and over and that’s why his offenses, teams were so good.”
Leach did not enjoy Spurrier-esque success. He finished 158-107 during stops at Texas Tech, Washington State and Mississippi State, where he spent his final three seasons.
Like those Gators teams under the the Head Ball Coach, Leach’s squads put up video-game numbers by attacking defenses down the field. This is the 11th straight season when Leach’s team led the nation in pass attempts.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Edgar Thompson at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @osgators.