Over the Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow’s career, he has not had to deal with many failures and has made it a knack to will his team to victory. But he was unable to lead his team to victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, falling 32-13 on Saturday.
While he took the loss hard as he was seen crying after the game, Tim Tebow has learned over the years that losing is not the end of the world.
Tebow wore a wristband during the game for Taylor Haugen, who died after his liver ruptured during a JV football game in 2008. The death of the Gator and Tebow fan put things into perspective for Tebow.
“It puts things into perspective. Obviously I am emotional after games and it means a lot to me. But at the end of the day, it’s not what really matters. Stories like that and people like that, that’s what matters,” Tebow said. “And that’s why at the end of the day, you can walk away holding you head high because of things like that.”
Alabama head coach Nick Saban reminded Tebow after the game of what he has accomplished and not to get down because of the one game.
Tebow finished the game 20-of-35 passing for 247 yards with a touchdown and added 63 yards on 10 rushes.
“He just said, ‘Keep your head up, you are still a great player, you’ve had a great career, just keep your head up and don’t change who you are,” Tebow said.
With his team down 32-13 at the start of the fourth quarter, Tebow tried to rally the troops and keep the mood positive.
The senior still had hope his team could pull off the comeback.
“I was just trying to get everybody going, the fans into it, all the sideline into it. I really wanted to refocus the players when they scored the third touchdown because it took up a lot of time and I knew it was the fourth quarter, but I was like, ‘Don’t panic, don’t worry.’”
He took his offense down the field with a chance to score. On the drive’s first six plays, he was 3-of-5 passing for 52 yards and rushed for seven yards, setting up 1st and goal from Alabama’s 6-yard line.
After audibling at the line, Tebow saw an open Aaron Hernandez in the corner of the end zone but did not put enough air on the ball, and it was intercepted by Alabama cornerback Javier Arenas.
“They did a good job. We were in a play and they were going to bring a no-deep look, so I audibled to bring someone in, then they checked out of it, and I just though I could fit it in there. I should have tried to get it over his head.”
The turnover ended any hopes of a comeback for the Gators, and also brought an end to UF’s preseason goals of repeating as SEC champions.
“It was frustrating obviously. This is not how we wanted to finish our season in the SEC,” Tebow said “We had a lot of goals, and a lot of those goals we won’t be able to accomplish, but it was frustrating.”
As a starter for Florida, Tebow had only lost five times before Saturday in 39 games and hadn’t loss in 22 straight games.
The 19-point loss was the most he loss by in his time with the Gators, but he feels his team can learn from the defeat, just like it has from the others.
“This is a feeling we don’t like, so we don’t want to repeat it too many times. That’s something you get out of it — just the drive to prepare and work harder and get everybody prepared a little better because coming in here, we felt prepared but obviously we could have done a lot better job,” Tebow said.