Florida Feeling Disrespected

Every team in the country tries to play the angle of disrespect. Whether a team is ranked in the top five of a preseason poll or not ranked at all, players and coaches will always look for an angle to tell their team that no one believes they can win. For Florida, it's about the direction of the program. Most of the veterans committed to a team that was in the hunt for national championships.

That's no longer the case.

The players hear the talk. Sometimes they'll drowned it out and pretend to avoid it, but as high school players, the veterans on this year's Florida team watched as the Gators won two national championships in three years, and the program was viewed as one of the best in the country.

Then came the downfall. Urban Meyer's final year at Florida combined with Will Muschamp's first to give the Gators a 15-11 record over the last two years.

"We haven't got respect," safety Matt Elam said. "People are sleeping on us. It pushes me harder because when everybody is against you, it feels better when you win. You're proving everyone wrong and you feel better.

"It has been like that since we got here. Nobody is giving us a chance. It makes us work harder."

Those comments will be heard all season from teams across the country. But Elam says this is different. That belief has been in his mind since the start of the offseason, and it stayed there through workouts.

Sometimes players have to force themselves to believe no one thinks they can win. For the Gators this year, it's real.

Walking through the football facilities is a constant reminder. Trophies of individual and team accomplishments line the hallways to almost every meeting room. There are pictures of great moments in Florida history. The focus for the Gators now comes to adding some hardware of their own to the facilities.

"We know that none of us came here to go 7-6," linebacker Jelani Jenkins said. "That's something that is in the back of our mind every day that we work out to just keep going. Everybody knows what it feels like to lose around here. That's not a good feeling."

The talk is positive and something Muschamp wants his team to understand, but the long season can produce plenty of talk. He wants to see something change on the field.

"I told our players, we just got done with a team meeting; 15 11 at the University of Florida, we need to quit talking and start playing at the end of the day, just get on the field and play," Muschamp said. "And that's what we need to do as a staff and what we need to do as a team.

"We need to quit talking and play on the field."

NO TRANSITION FOR MCCRAY: Ronald Powell's torn ACL will force Lerentee McCray and Neiron Ball to split time at the BUCK linebacker position this year. It won't be much of an adjustment for McCray. Despite Powell holding the position throughout 2011, there were still times when McCray worked out as the BUCK in practice and games.

His comfort level at the position doesn't make it a big change.

"I pretty much played both of them last year, too," McCray said. "I flip-flopped back and forth between positions. It's pretty much second nature. When (Powell) gets back, it'll be me and him on the edges. It'll really be like we have two BUCKs playing in our defense."


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