Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF Not Driven to Distraction; the Gators Want a Title but Say They Won't Rest on Their Laurels This Year

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF Not Driven to Distraction; the Gators Want a Title but Say They Won't Rest on Their Laurels This Year

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL DIROCCO

GAINESVILLE - The videos of the BCS national championship game, which played on an endless loop on televisions throughout the Florida football complex, no longer run.

The championship rings are either tucked away or have been given to family members.

The T-shirts lauding a 41-14 victory over Ohio State have been through the wash several times by now and begun to fade.

Those reminders of the Gators' second national title are gone, but players and coaches remain keenly aware of the task they face this year: defending - and possibly repeating - as champions.

"We have a target on our backs right now," senior wide receiver Andre Caldwell said as sixth-ranked UF prepared for Saturday's season opener against Western Kentucky. "We have to defend ourselves. We are going to get the best from everybody, and we have to bring our best week in and week out.

"You can see the confidence in people. They walk a little different and talk a little different. There's a little swagger in everybody. We worked hard to get it, but we aren't showing off, and we are getting our work done."

The UF men's basketball team embraced a chance to repeat its championship. It was the reason that Corey Brewer, Taurean Green, Al Horford and Joakim Noah returned for their junior seasons in 2006-07.

The circumstances for the football team are different. It lost nine starters on defense and five on offense - including quarterback Chris Leak and two players who were first-round NFL Draft picks (defensive end Jarvis Moss and safety Reggie Nelson).

So while the Gators' football players are quietly talking about repeating, they aren't consumed by it.

"I think you always have it in the back of your head for motivation," sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow said. "You want to get to that point in the season of winning a national championship and getting bowl rings, but at the same time, that was last season. You've got to put that behind you and worry about this season.

"Last season, we were totally different, we had different guys, and it was a different feel. This season, you've got to do what you think is right for this season and worry about what is now. …

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