But new Gator Coach Ron Zook is determined to try. "We're excited to get going," Zook said. "There are a lot of questions about the University of Florida right now, and we kind of like that." ">
But new Gator Coach Ron Zook is determined to try. "We're excited to get going," Zook said. "There are a lot of questions about the University of Florida right now, and we kind of like that." ">

Media Days: Zook & Tuberville

Replacing a legend is never easy, and among Florida fans at least, Steve Spurrier more than lived up to his nickname of "Coach Superior." <br><br>But new Gator Coach Ron Zook is determined to try. "We're excited to get going," Zook said. "There are a lot of questions about the University of Florida right now, and we kind of like that."

"Everyone (in the SEC) is basically doing the same thing, so don't know how much it will change. We will continue to be a wide open offense and score lot of points. We have weapons that can make that happen. I want to make sure we can run the football efficiently as well. We want to do both.

Do you think (Florida AD) Jeremy Foley took a chance in hiring you?
"I don't, not at all. Learned a long time ago, I had to be me. In the jobs I've had, I've been able to be me. I'm able to coach the same. I can't come in here and try to be somebody else. I have to be me, whether that's good or bad, we'll find out.

Will the Heisman hype for Rex Grossman be a problem?
"I don't think I have to worry about that. We have had a couple of Heisman trophies and Norm Carlson knows how to handle that, so it's not Rex's concern either, He came back to Florida because he thought we had a chance to be a good football team. If we do the things you have to do to win, the exposure we get in this conference allows him to have the opportunity. It's not a lot of special things that have to be done.

What about Grossman?
"The guy had some excellent games, but Rex wants to improve, wants to become more consistent. Wants to have same type of year he had last year and keep on going.

Talk about your defense.
"The players we have fit the most of system we'll run. Wide open. Not the biggest guys on the edge, but we have some depth there. I like the makeup of our defensive football team.

Some people are saying that you're on the "hot seat."
"I don't feel that way at all. What makes the Southeastern Conference such a great conference is the expectations. We're expected to win like all the other SEC schools. Because coach Spurrier did such a great job and won a lot of games, that's kind of where the bar is set.

What will your offense be like?
"If you followed Ed (Zaunbrecher) at all, what he did when he would run the offense at Marshall was to put pressure on the defense. Those of you who know my personality, we want to be a football team that's attacking in all three phases.

"The one thing at University of Florida, every three or four years you get a receiver depth problem. We're probably in that now. But it gives young guys an opportunity to step up, and that's what they came to Florida for. The offensive line is same thing, gonna be young there. Everybody has certain parts of the football team where they have concerns about experience, It's something you can't buy.

Florida Quarterback Rex Grossman

"I'm looking forward to the season. I'm not looking much further than that. As long as I keep improving every part of my game, I'd be happy."

You considered leaving for the NFL.
"It was a difficult decision. As soon as I got all the facts, it was pretty easy. I still wanted to be a Gator."

Will you have to adjust to a new scheme?
"The only thing I have to prove to everyone is that I can play well with any system. We'll just have to do it without Spurrier. Coach Zook is a great coach."

This year there's no one fighting you for No. 1.
"This year has been a little more comfortable. This year I can just concentrate. It's a lot better feeling than uncertainty."

What about the Heisman?
"It would be fun to win the Heisman but it's not on the top of my goal list. I'd like to win games. Just winning the SEC is on top of my goal list."

Talk about Coach Zook.
"He's a real intense players' coach. He's gonna be real hyper. He's a fun guy to be around. He's organized and he's gonna lead us in the right direction."

Are you excited about the year?
"We're gonna be an up-tempo offense, trying to catch the defense on their heels."

"I'm just looking forward to playing Miami and Tennessee. There's gonna be a lot of fun games. I am never gonna be able to do this again. I just wanted to make sure I accomplished everything in college football and left on my own terms."

Florida Defensive Tackle Ian Scott

"Coach Zook has been pushing us along with the strength and conditioning coaches. They have been pushing us to the limit. Hopefully, we can take all the hard work and do great things."

What about adjusting to a new coach?
"Coach Zook probably learned a lot under Coach Spurrier. He's a real go getter and he bring a real intensity to the field, but he also takes care of his people. He looks after us."

"The fact that Coach Zook has been at Florida before and knew people before he came in, has helped to make the transition a lot easier in us."

Does the team think it has to prove it can win without Spurrier?
"Any player who doesn't have anything to prove doesn't get better. If we can come together as a team, we can improve as a team."

How will the offense be different?
"Rex will have a lot more freedom with the offense. Before, it was Coach Spurrier's offense. Now, Rex will be more in control of the game. It will be a lot of fun. I think we will surprise a lot of people this season."

You've got a new defensive coordinator.
"Coach Thompson's philosophy is pretty much the same. You have to be able to stop the run. We've handle transition well as a team."

Head Coach Tommy Tuberville

Tommy Tuberville

"I'm excited about this year. The quarterbacks have worked hard. We have no clue who the starting quarterback will be. One thing I told them the last few weeks is I'm looking for leadership. Both have same athletic qualities, both have had good times and bad times. We need to find someone to be more consistent. This year we have a better supporting cast around them, a better group of running backs, tight ends, wide receivers. It will be easier for a quarterback to be successful."

"We have four games in a short period of time early in the season. We'll find out a lot about this team. We will be an exciting team to watch, coming off disappointing season, having Western Division title in the palm of our hands, losing to state rival the way we did. It made us a more hungry team."

Goals for the season?
"I'm excited. I think we have a chance to be good. We have a good chance to compete with everybody we play week in and week out. Over the past seven years, I haven't been able to stand up here and say that. We have a good group coming back and an excellent recruiting class with speed."

Talk about your schedule.
"We have four non-conference games and two of them are very competitive with Syracuse and USC. We needed something to get us back to the homes of recruits after a couple of years of negative publicity at Auburn. USC gave us opportunity to get in some doors that were not open to us. Lot of players wanted to play that game. Look at our schedule, we have a mixture of conference and non-conference games early. It's set up pretty good for us."

Who'll win the West?
"Everybody's got good players. There is not a team you can say will go out and win it. I don't think there will be an unbeaten team. Last year we tied with LSU and we both had 3 losses. We beat up on ourselves. Everybody has good skill players, The team that will win will be more consistent at running back and defensive line. One factor we can't control is injuries. A handful of guys on each team could make a difference in great season and average season."

Are you concerned about your offensive line?
"We lost three starters, but this will be most athletic group of offensive linemen we've had in eight years. We are going to have to come together, but we have more depth than we've had in the past. A guy like Carnell (Williams) will make our line look better. They're hard-nosed and had a great spring. We've made some minor changes where it's simpler, so they can get better quicker. If we have a weakness that would be our starting point, but I like that weakness and if that's it, we're going to have a good football team."

Talk about your young receivers.
"We signed five guys I think can play at wide receiver this year. They can all run and catch. Unlike in the past, five years ago, it was unusual for a freshman to come early and work out. Most of our freshmen have been there, they've worked with our quarterbacks. They've learned. They're not going to be caught by surprised. I'd be surprised if we don't have one or two new starters from this group or at least guys who play half the time."

Linebacker Dontarrious Thomas

"Coach Whitt has spent a lot of time with me to get me ready to play. He knows a lot about the game and has taught me a lot."

You've got a new defensive coordinator.
"Coach Chizik is great. He keep the intensity level high. We still run the same set. The only difference would be the terminology."

Auburn faded down the stretch last season.
"This year we need to start on a good note and end on a good note. We need to keep the intensity level up."

"After the down slide last season we were really upset, but we just have to use that as a motivational tool."

Southern California?
"Traveling to the University of Southern California for the season opener is exciting. We hope to go out there and play well. It is a stepping stone for us. We need to go out and do well in order to help us accomplish our goals."

Talk about your defense.
"In the SEC, you have to have a good defense to make it. From a defensive perspective, I feel like a defense sets the tone for the game."

"This year I consider myself one of the leaders on the team. Last season, I was just getting my feet wet."

Tight End Lorenzo Diamond

What happened last year?
"This off-season has been a tough one. We have t-shirts in the weight room for every game we lost. We use that as motivation. I think we lost a lot of our focus last year."

Talk about your young receivers.
"Those guys are some of the best freshmen receivers I've seen. We're looking forward to seeing what they can do on the field."

You've got several good tight ends.
"It's a good thing. We've got three guys that can get the job done. Cooper and myself go out and work hard. One of our goals is to be the best tight end."

What about opening versus USC?
"It's actually made some workouts tougher. We're looking at this game as the make or break game. We have to get prepared mentally and physically to go out there."

Your new coordinator?
"A guy coming from the NFL and having the success that he did, we look at this guy as he really knows what he's talking about."

Who'll lead the offense?
"Both of the quarterbacks have worked really hard. Both have made great strides. We really need one of them to put his foot forward and say hey, I'm gonna start and lead this team. We have confidence in both guys."


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