No. 12 Gators have chance to turn Tide in series
GAINESVILLE, FLA. (AP) - Florida was essentially noncompetitive in its last two games against Alabama.
There was the debacle in Atlanta in the 2009 Southeastern Conference title game, then the drubbing in Tuscaloosa last season. The Gators were outplayed, outcoached and outscored by a combined 44 points in those lopsided losses.
Players surely want revenge, retribution, payback, right? Maybe, but they’re certainly not saying it. In fact, the only telling quote to come out of Gainesville this week has been on Twitter.
Getting the 12th-ranked Gators (4-0, 2-0 SEC) to acknowledge as much in person has been a tougher challenge. Player after player has repeated coach Will Muschamp’s “nameless, faceless” motto this week as they prepare for No. 3 Alabama (4-0, 1-0).
Muschamp wants his players to have the same focus and preparation for every opponent, regardless if it’s Alabama, North Alabama or Alabama A&M.
“That’s just how we approach every game,” center Jon Harrison said. “We can’t approach it like, ‘OK, this is so-and-so team.’ It just keeps us focused on assignments and the football concepts in general, not just, ‘OK, this is so and so and we have to be afraid of them.’ It just keeps us focused on what we’re doing.”
Muschamp’s motto might seem odd, especially after six years of listening to Urban Meyer making such a big deal about big games and rivalries. But players have bought in, even if they know it’s more or less a ploy to keep players from slacking.
“There are certain games that bring the intensity,” quarterback John Brantley said. “When I say they mean the same, they mean the same on the schedule _ a win’s a win. And different games bring different intensities, but we try to be as intense in game one as we are in game 10. You always want to bring that intensity.”
So where does Alabama rank on the intensity scale?
“It’s pretty high,” Brantley said.
It should be, especially after how the Tide rolled in the last two meetings.
Alabama ran for 170 yards in last year’s 31-6 victory. The Crimson Tide also forced four turnovers, knocked Brantley around so much that he had bruised ribs and an injured thumb, and returned an interception for a touchdown. Adding to the humiliation, receiver Marquis Maze threw a touchdown pass on a trick play.
Alabama’s win in 2009 was even more humbling.
The Tide ran 53 times for 251 yards and three touchdowns. Florida fans still blame the loss on playing without defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who was suspended following his arrest on a charge of driving under the influence four days before the title game.