Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bad Taste Lingers from SEC Loss; 2010 Gators Open Camp with "A Lot to Prove," Says Receiver

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bad Taste Lingers from SEC Loss; 2010 Gators Open Camp with "A Lot to Prove," Says Receiver

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL DIROCCO

GAINESVILLE - Tim Tebow wasn't the only missing part from the Florida football team on Thursday.

Also gone are the lofty expectations and talk of an undefeated season and a potential dynasty.

Instead, the Gators hit the practice field for the first time a humbled and frustrated group trying to regain the spot atop Southeastern Conference that belongs to Alabama.

"Oh, we've got a lot to prove," receiver Chris Rainey said.

That's a much different attitude than the first day of practice in 2009, when Tebow, Brandon Spikes, Riley Cooper and Joe Haden openly talked about repeating as national champions and posting the first undefeated season in school history. Now the Gators are talking about proving critics wrong and rebounding from the 32-13 loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game that ruined those plans.

"Any time, especially here at Florida, our main goal is to get back to Atlanta and win [the SEC title game]," quarterback John Brantley said. "When you have a loss so devastating as that one, you want to go into that next season hungry. A lot of people really have been doubting us.

"That's another big thing. We like to be tested like that. That's what gives us our chip on our shoulders."

Brantley wasn't the only player to use the "chip" cliche. Rainey, receiver Deonte Thompson, defensive end Justin Trattou, safety Ahmad Black and defensive tackle Terron Sanders did, too. They said they feel that way even though Florida was picked to win the SEC's Eastern Division and likely will be a top-five team in the Associated Press and USA Today polls that will be released later this month.

That's not good enough, though.

"At Florida, you expect to be the best and that's always the goal," Trattou said. "It's kind of instilled in the program in general. Our goal is to win SEC championships and win national championships."

Mickey Marotti, UF's director of strength and conditioning, has used the loss to Alabama as motivation during conditioning drills, and the players have re-watched the game several times. …

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