Tebow Prepares for Another SEC Championship

Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow is helping prepare his Florida Gators for their second straight SEC Championship game appearance this weekend. It has been a long year of being No. 1 and Tebow and the Gators have worn the bullseye with pride and some intense scrutiny. Tebow and his team seem prepared for the game that was the preseason goal all along.

Tim Tebow understands the significance of the game and why this is the actual game the team has aimed for at the start of the season. He approaches this game, the intensity it involve, and the stage it provides as number one meets number two in college football as something he has wanted all along.

"We're very excited about it," he said. "It's an honor to be in an SEC Championship. It means a lot to us to be here, to win out in the East and have an opportunity to play a great team in Alabama, a very well coached team, a very athletic team, a team who is one of the best teams in the country. It's very exciting for us. And it will be a very exciting game and one of the best games hopefully in SEC history."

The Gators entered the season No. 1 and have been probably the most scrutinized team to ever start and end the regular season in the number one spot. A team that returned it's entire two deep on defense has played as well or better on that side of the ball. A different identity on offense has caused a great deal of folks to be skeptical. However, the Coaches' poll and BCS poll has never wavered on the Gators and their number one ranking all season long.

Tebow shared that this is just a different team with a different identity, especially on the offensive side of the ball. It took a commitment to focusing on the goal at hand to keep outside forces from derailing the mission.

"I think every season is different," he said. "This obviously being the next chapter and being a new season, a new opportunity. And it has been a little bit different. There's been a lot of expectations, a lot of pressure, not only by outside forces but also by ourselves, by just our expectations of our team and some of them are pretty high. And we haven't hit all of them."

"What I'm extremely proud about is that in all the situations, tough situations, opportunities where it looked like we could have folded, we could have lost, we could have not pulled it out, we really rallied together and made great things happen."

"The thing about our team is we're not as flashy as we've been or potent offensively as we have been in scoring points in some games. But what we do have is we have the character when we need to, when our backs are against the wall, to really find ways to get things done."

"I think that's the character of this team, when we have to get things done, we get it done. I think that also hasn't helped as far as the media putting up as many points. We haven't looked as flashy, I've been noticing. That hasn't helped with the criticism and everything. But that's kind of what we try to just keep out, all the outside forces, and focus on the next day, the next play, and just stay focused."

"I think that's something that we've really done and just kind of trying to get better. And it's been a long season as far as that. But it's been extremely fun because there has been a lot of ups and downs with us because people are expecting more on some games. So you've got to score more, got to be more flashy and more big plays."

"Sometimes it's not just who we are. We've got to be who we are and you've got to accept your role. And I think our role is to be an offense that controls the ball, that puts points on the board when we need to, but also puts our defense in good situations."

Tebow understands that it was expectations that brought on the scrutiny. But understands that getting to the game was the ultimate goal.

"Well, I think they would expect us to be more flashy and put up more points," he said. "That just hasn't been us. We've found ways to win. I think there was a lot of expectations out of us. And so I don't think we lived up to all of them from the outside forces, but we did internally because we're 12-0 and that's all that matters."

The hot topic now for this Gator team is strong fourth quarter finishes. The come from behind win against Arkansas and closing out the win against South Carolina in strong fashion in the fourth quarter has people thinking back to last year's match up in the SEC Championship game. The Gators came from behind late to score twice and put the game away on the arm of Tebow. According to Tebow, it has everything to do with the strength and conditioning program at Florida.

"Well, I think that was because all year long we had been working on finishing," Tebow said. "We had been striving for a finish. And that's something that Coach Mickey Marotti preached in the weight room to, on the practice field, to our coaching staff, 'we have to finish'. We have to be a tough team in the fourth quarter and we have to have that heart. We have to learn how to finish."

"I think that's something we really tried to implement. Our finish, how are we going to finish, what's our character like? Are we going to have the character to be able to finish and fight through the tough times? "

"In that fourth quarter (in Atlanta a year ago), I think we really rallied together and really came up with a lot of heart, found ways to finish. And just kept finding ways to get first downs and put it in the end zone against a great team, a great defense in Alabama."

"I'm really proud of my teammates for that. It was just kind of a togetherness that we had that we were going to go in there and get this done because we care about each other, because we care about that this means so much to each of us and we cannot not finish this game. It means too much for us. And that's our approach and making sure we did everything we could. We weren't going to leave anything on that field. That's what I'm most proud about."

It was a tough game a year ago and Tebow sees a lot of similarities in this 2009 version of the Crimson Tide.

"I think they're very similar to last year's defense," he said. "I think there are a few differences. Obviously a little different in personnel. It looks like more of what they did last year, 49, their safety kind of ran things. This year, it's more like (Rolando McClain) runs things, and they're both extremely intelligent players. So they can put their defense in good situations."

"Similarities...they make a lot of checks. When we check, they check, sort of thing, and they get in a lot of different blitzes. And they scheme up a lot of teams to put pressure on the quarterback, to put pressure on the run game, to kind of make you dink and dunk and rally up and make big plays and cause a lot of turnovers."

Tebow sees a lot of the same thing in the Bama defense as the one the Gator defense will trot out on the field on Saturday.

"There's a lot of similarities," he said. "Both great defenses. There are similarities with our defense. A lot of team speed. They run for the ball, make big plays."

"They put the pressure on the quarterback. I think there are a lot of similarities between their defense the last year and our defense."

Tebow talked more about McClain, Alabama's quarterback on the defense.

"I think he's one of the smarter players on the team," Tebow said of McClain. "He makes a lot of checks for them. I think he's someone who gets people in the right position. Because they're a defense that does a lot, that checks a lot."

"When people motion, they check. They change their defenses. They change their blitzes. So when you do that you have to be extremely intelligent. Not a lot of defenses do that. Not a lot of defenses are that sophisticated."

"You have to have smart people to run it. I think he's really taken on that responsibility since 49 graduated. And he's really that smart guy on their team that can really get them in the right situation, the right place."

"He's also not only extremely smart getting people in the right place but he's a great player, stout linebacker, and athletic guy who makes a lot of plays."

The Bama secondary also has a tough player in cornerback Javier Arenas. Arenas has made a name as a returner in the last two seasons, but he has also stepped up his game on defense.

"I think he's a great player," Tebow said. "I think he does a lot for their team on defense, special teams, all the stuff that he does. So I think you have to be aware of him."

"I think you have to know that he's a great player. But you can't just focus on him because they've got a lot of great players. It's not like we're going to be throwing towards one guy, away from the other guy, because they've got a lot of great play makers. You have to realize that overall in the secondary they have a lot of great playmakers and he's one of them."

Tebow is also going to have to be aware up front when big Terrence Cody takes the field for Alabama. The senior defensive tackle clocks in at a listed 6-5 and 365 pounds, but that may be a gross understatement of his weight. Cody is up for the Outland award, given to the best interior lineman nationally.

"He is a big guy," Tebow said. "He's someone who disrupts a lot of what offenses try to do. He's just big. You can't move him. He's a pretty stout guy. What you try to do is you just try to tire him out and you just try to make him miss as many times as you can. And get as many people on him and just get around him."

"Obviously you don't like seeing people like that, but you just try to do your best and look past him and getting past him. He's a great player, and he causes a lot of trouble. And he's someone that we have a lot of respect for as a player because he goes hard and he's a big guy and he creates a lot of trouble."

Defensively, the Alabama Crimson Tide offers up more resistance than any defense the Gators will see outside of their practice field this season. Tim Tebow has a grasp of that and has his team and offense ready to handle that, much like a year ago.

Here more of what Tebow has to say here from today's media function at The Swamp.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

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