Gator football getting to work


Florida coach Urban Meyer addresses the media after Monday's practice at the Gator practice fields.

Aaron Daye/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Monday, August 4, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 12:41 a.m.

After only one preseason practice, Florida coach Urban Meyer has yet to form a definitive opinion about the 2008 Gators.

"I'll tell you in about two weeks," Meyer said after UF's first practice Monday afternoon.

Meyer may not have a feel for this team yet, but senior tight end Cornelius Ingram apparently does.

A very good one at that.

When asked if he thought Florida had one of the best teams in the nation, the former Hawthorne star said, "By far, by far. I have to go out on a limb and say I think so. There are a lot of teams out there full of talent, but we know our goal is to get to Atlanta (for the SEC title game) and we pretty much know everything after that will take care of itself."

Ingram said the Gators are a serious title contender again because there is a closeness on this team that was missing through a 9-4 season a year ago.

"I think (the chemistry) is better," he said. "Most of the guys bowled and went to movies together (this summer). It pretty much started in the spring and you can tell it definitely carried over into today. The team chemistry is there.

"We've just got to execute plays and stay healthy. Everyone came out energized with a great attitude today and it's going to carry over through the entire two-a-days. Hopefully, we can get going and bring another (championship) home."

Ingram said much of the motivation during the offseason was a result of what happened in Jacksonville last October. The Gators not only lost to arch-rival Georgia, but they had to stand there and watch the Bulldogs storm the field after their first touchdown, a move Meyer said he won't forget. The UF players haven't either, apparently.

"It's definitely extra motivation," he said. "We have that (Nov. 1 game) circled on our calendar. We know what went on last year, with them rushing the field. It kind of took a toll on us.

"Throughout our summer workouts, our strength coaches made sure they brought it up. It motivated us."

Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow also was asked Monday if he thought the Gators were one of the nation's premier teams. He did not go as far as Ingram.

"I don't know about that. It's hard for me to judge that," he said. "I do know that we're a team that has an opportunity to be very good. I'm just hoping we capitalize on all this talent and the character we have on this team."

Tebow said it's no extra motivation that the Bulldogs are starting the season at No. 1 in the coaches' poll, while the Gators sit at No. 5.

"That's fine. I really don't care," he said. "Rankings never matter until the end of the year. We're not worried about that at all. I couldn't care less where we're ranked."

Meyer doesn't seem concerned about rankings at this early stage either. His focus appears to be on the next practice, and on the team getting ready for a tough preseason training camp that begins when the Gators check into a hotel this weekend.

"We still consider this practice," he said. "We'll know more (about this team) when we get over to the other field (the UVS field, where the Gators go through two-a-days)."

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