Big game, not a rivalry for most Gators

The game Saturday against Miami is big for some Florida Gator players and other just believe it is just another game on the schedule. For the large influx of south Florida players on the roster, the game means a little more. For the fans it is a big one and a series many wish would continue on into the future. Saturday is the last scheduled meeting with the Hurricanes until further notice.

"It's a big game because it's our next game," senior Trey Burton said of Florida's meeting with Miami on Saturday. "We're excited to go down there and play."

For Burton, the only time he has seen the game is when he was a prospect and visited the Swamp for the Gators 26-3 win in 2008. Not downplaying the quality of opponent, it's just not much of a rivalry to him.

"The only one I can say for sure I watched was 2008 when I was here as a recruit in the Swamp for that game. All of our games are tough. We're just really excited to play."

New York native and Gators starting senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley likes the big game nature of the game and has a different interest in this particular match up.

"It is game week, so we have to get out there and be prepared," Easley said shortly after the win Saturday over Toledo. (Miami) is a school I really wanted to go to. Growing up I never watched college football but it is the only school I ever heard of, so I wanted to play there.

"Ray Lewis is my favorite player of all time. I never met him, but would love to.

"I am looking forward to it. We need to prepare right, come out and play like Gators."

For Easley, he doesn't consider it to be a rivalry. But he knows the Hurricanes will be stoked to play the Gators.

"Not really, because I've never played against them," he said about it not being a rivalry. "Everyone is gunning for us. We have to come out there prepared and do what we are going to do."

Offensive guard Max Garcia is the only one on the Gator roster that has actually lined up and played against the Hurricanes. The transfer from Maryland started two years for the Terrapins before transferring to Florida after a coaching change.

"They play a bunch of guys in there, so different guys will bring in different talents," Garcia said of the Hurricane defense. "Being at Maryland I played against a couple of them my sophomore year. So some familiar faces, some familiar moves that I'm aware of. I think they're a solid group and we're just going to have to prepare the right way."

Garcia is another one that doesn't really see this as much of a rivalry compared to a game between two big time programs.

"I'm not too aware of it," he said of the rivalry. "I grew up in Georgia, so I wasn't too familiar with Florida-Miami, but guys are really excited to play. A couple teammates have friends that are on the team as well. It's definitely more excitement for this game."

It is a different deal altogether for the players that grew up in South Florida. For many, they were Hurricane fans during their childhood and some wandered into Gainesville for their college career. For others, they just grew up all around Hurricane fans in the area and know what it means to the people down there.

Junior cornerback Marcus Roberson played high school football I and n Ft. Lauderdale has played in many big games for the Gators already. He knows all about the rivalry between the Gators and Florida State and Georgia. This one isn't a rivalry, but he understands the significance of the in-state brawl.

"I mean, I wouldn't say that, but it'll be fun knowing that we all from Florida and we all like to compete and have the same mentality and things like that," he said. "I watched a couple games growing up, but I wasn't really big on UM. I favored them a couple games growing up, but I'm at Florida now. I'm a Gator.

Roberson is looking forward to some of his family watching from the stands. A much easier drive to Sun Life stadium in Miami Gardens than it is to Gainesville.

"It's fun to get to go back and play in front of my family that's not able to come up and watch the games here," he said.

Because of the closeness of the two schools, there is a a good deal of familiarity with some of the players on both teams. One such player for Roberson is Miami receiver Phillip Dorsett, they both went to St. Thomas Aquinas. Even though they haven't had contact this week with each other, the two remain good friends and Roberson said it will be a tough match up for him on the field.

"We are both competitors so I'm pretty sure it's going to be a battle between us," Roberson said. "It's going to be fun just to play each other knowing that we came from elementary together and went to the same high school."

Despite his team's thoughts on this not being a rivalry, Florida head coach Will Muschamp understands the implications of the game. South Florida is the premiere recruiting area for all of college football and the Gators are steady trying to build a pipe line from the area to Gainesville.

His team may not match up every year with the Hurricanes, but this game is big.

"Certainly they know it is an important game for the University of Florida here in the state," Muschamp said Wednesday. "We talk about it all the time. Our players understand the importance of the game. We will continue to educate them throughout the week about the game. Any time they play against guys they know and are familiar with, it is obviously very important."

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