UF FOOTBALL

TV criticism got Gators fired up


Florida players Marcus Gilbert (76), from left, Nyan Boateng (17) and Andre Caldwell (5) rub the Gator's win in the face of Tennessee fans during the fourth quarter of Florida's game against Tennessee at Neyland Stadium September 16, 2006.

ROB C. WITZEL/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 19, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
Nothing good usually comes of sitting around a hotel room all day waiting to play a night game. This time, the endless wait proved to be a positive and highly motivating experience for the Florida Gators.
Linebacker Brandon Siler said he and his teammates became fired up and angry in their Knoxville hotel this past weekend when a talking head on television questioned their toughness and proclaimed them too soft to beat Tennessee on the road.
Thank you, Lee Corso. "I watched it Friday night and Saturday morning," Siler said. "We were watching college football and it came up over and over on the screen: Florida is too soft to win in Tennessee. The reaction (of the players) was real crazy. We were angry. We knew we weren't that kind of team and went out and proved it. How dare anyone think about us like that. I don't have anything personal against (Corso). He has a job to do. I'm pretty sure he has a change of heart right now."
Siler said Corso's words - and the words of others on ESPN - had the Gators amped for their game with the Vols. UF rallied from a 17-7 deficit in the second half to pull out a 21-20 victory. The Gators held the Vols to minus-11 yards rushing.
"I think we were being called out on national television by a lot of commentators," Siler said. "They were saying we were soft. That's real disrespectful. We know we're very far away from that. That's pretty much what we showed. Minus-11 yards rushing speaks for itself.
"They were calling us soft and it was said a lot. It's something that upset us a lot. They sort of called us out by name."
Florida coach Urban Meyer has been questioning his team's toughness going back to last season, when the Gators were roughed up on the road by Alabama, LSU and South Carolina.
It's one thing to hear it from your coach, but apparently it's demeaning coming from one of those TV guys.
"Coach Meyer might have to ask that question again," Siler said. "It's probably something he wasn't sure about, just like the rest of the country wasn't sure because they were questioning us about it.
"When we stepped in there and did what we did Saturday night, I think we pretty much justified we are tough."
Meyer agrees. "They answered it," Meyer said. "I'm not sure you can call them not tough more than we have. From the end of last year right up until this game, we challenged them, we criticized them, we put them in situations where only tough people can survive.
"I'm awfully proud of them. I'd have to say we're a fairly tough football team after that game."
Siler said the Gators had their swagger back going into Saturday night's game. They certainly played like a confident and motivated team.
"I think we had a lot more swagger going into that game than we've ever had," Siler said. "This team is together, we're close. We know what we can do. We're very confident.
"When we were down, I was going up and down the sideline saying, 'No one clip when I get this interception and take it back.' We were saying things like that instead of beating each other up and getting after each other. We knew at some point we'd make the plays."
Robbie Andreu can be reached at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com

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