Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Defending Champion UF Starts 6th; FSU Is 19th

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Defending Champion UF Starts 6th; FSU Is 19th

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL DIROCCO

GAINESVILLE - When Florida football coach Urban Meyer received the news Saturday morning that his Gators were sixth in the Associated Press' preseason Top 25 poll, he smiled and threw out some fake enthusiasm.

"That's great," he said after UF finished its first of two practices. "That's really good news. I've got to write that down."

Then he went mock serious.

"Why aren't we No. 5?" he asked.

Meyer's comments mirror his attitude about preseason polls. It doesn't matter to him that the Gators are sixth any more than it matters that USC is No. 1, followed by LSU, West Virginia, Texas and Michigan to round out the top five.

"I don't care about the polls," he said.

The Southeastern Conference has four teams ranked in the Top 15, more than any conference. Georgia is ranked No. 13 and Tennessee No. 15.

Florida State is ranked 19th, the Seminoles' lowest preseason ranking in 22 years .

Like Meyer, UF senior tight end Tate Casey said he doesn't care about the polls either, but he seemed a little bothered by the sixth-place ranking.

"I don't think if you ask anybody on this team they'd really care," Casey said. "That's one of those things where we know how much work we've put in, how much time we've put in in the offseason. We'll be all right.

"Let them say what they want. We'll make a statement on the field."

FSU will have to make an even bigger statement to contend for a national title. The Seminoles are making their 25th consecutive AP preseason poll appearance, a streak that began with a No. 7 ranking in the 1983 preseason poll. This is their lowest ranking since they also began the season ranked 19th in 1985.

Unlike Meyer, FSU coach Bobby Bowden said he likes the preseason polls.

"I like to see where you are and what you've got to do,'' Bowden said. "I think it tells you something. So [19th] is fine, if that's where they want to start us. Now we'll see what we can do about it. …

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