Siler Has His Priorities Set This Week

Brandon Siler knows that this is a week for priorities. First things first means taking care of business against South Carolina and its famous ball coach. If that mission is accomplished, for about four hours, Siler's battle cry will be "War Eagle!"

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It is the South Carolina business that has the full attention of Florida's All-SEC linebacker. He knows all about Steve Spurrier. You can't be a Gator and NOT know Spurrier. His jersey number is painted on the wall of The Swamp, his Heisman Trophy is on display and then there are all those trophies that he won as Florida's football coach including that 1996 national championship.

Florida vs. Spurrier is getting all the media hype nationally this week, but Siler knows that the Gators vs. the Old Ball Coach is nothing more than a distraction. The real story is the Gators taking care of business, controlling what they can control to give themselves a shot at the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division championship. If Florida wins, then it's time to be a football fan, specifically an Auburn fan since the Gators need Auburn to beat South Carolina to clinch the championship.

"I'm a Gator fan," Siler said. "I hope Auburn wins, but I'm a Gator fan. You don't want to get wrapped up in all the things you can't control."

For the Gators to do their part in destiny control, they have to win on the road in the SEC, a place that hasn't been kind to UF on its last couple of journeys outside of Gainesville. Florida won its first SEC road game at Kentucky, but trips to Alabama and LSU resulted in Florida's only two losses of the season and put the Gators in the predicament of needing some help to win a championship.

Florida has rallied into a position to win the division championship by gutting out a 14-10 win over Georgia and a 49-42 double overtime thriller over Vanderbilt. That makes Saturday's final SEC game of the season do or die for the Gators.

"It's a one game season, that's all we're talking about right now," Siler said. "It seems like this is a championship right now. I'm sure we're going to be getting after it a lot in practice this week. Playing for the SEC championship or going to it, is enough to spark any team. I don't think you need much more than that. For the fans it means more, for us it's just X's and O's.

"We are trying to win … we have a one game season and it's just the X's and O's on the field."

For most of Florida's seniors, this is a week of mixed feelings. The majority of the seniors on this team were recruited to Florida by Spurrier back in 2001. They have played for two coaches since Spurrier left UF in January of 2002 so even though there may be some sentimental ties to the Old Ball Coach, Siler knows they have a job to do and there can be no distractions.

"This is their last year," he said, "Everyone wants to get an SEC, but for them it's their last shot. I'm sure they are going to lay it out there."

There is no escaping the Spurrier legacy at Florida even though it has been four years since the Old Ball Coach was running the show for the Gators. Siler respects what Spurrier did but as a player and coach at Florida, but he doesn't necessarily relate.

"I heard he was a great coach," Siler said. "He did a lot of great things here. I never played for him or met him, but from the things he has done, he is pretty good, real good. We see his Heisman and (other) trophies, all the things he's done, his wins and records.

"I was aware of him, but I wasn't really thinking about college football when he was here. I was playing video games…I was in ninth grade…I was thinking about starting on varsity in high school."

Florida is in this position to possibly win a championship in spite of some critical injuries. The Gators will be playing Saturday without cornerback Vernell Brown, who was having an All-SEC type of season before he broke his leg against Vanderbilt. In Brown's place, Reggie Lewis stepped in and after some shaky moments, delivered the game-clinching interception. Siler knows that Lewis will have to have a big game on Saturday in Columbia if the Gators are to beat South Carolina.

"Reggie made a big play for us last week," Siler said. "I think that will raise his confidence this week. He needs to step up and be big for us and I think that is what he is going to do."

Siler knows what he has to do, also. He has been one of Florida's leading tacklers all season and he leads the SEC in fumble recoveries with six. He recovered two fumbles against Vanderbilt and both led to Florida touchdowns. Good things happen when you're constantly around the football.

"When you are always around the ball, things happen," he said. "Some of its luck but you have to be around the ball a lot and things will happen."

On one of the fumble recoveries Saturday, Siler scooped up the ball and started chugging toward the goal line. He made it 14 yards before he was tackled. He has been taking a lot of ribbing about not having the speed to take the fumble all the way back for a touchdown.

"I tried to take that one to the house," Siler joked. "I looked at (the film) and I thought I was slow too."

The Gators hope Siler can joke about next week's film too.

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