Notebook: Players say internal rift doesn't exist this year


Florida defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd, at center, teases teammate Omar Hunter, at left, during Florida Football Media Day on Aug 5. At right is fellow lineman Dominique Easley.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 11:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 12:15 a.m.

By the end of a disappointing 2010 season, the stories of discord had made the rounds.

Word had gotten out that some of the high-profile freshmen had clashed with upperclassmen.

Fast forward several months and many of this Gator team's veterans attest to an offseason of maturation.

Sophomore defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who was embroiled in some of the internal strife along with fellow linemen Ronald Powell and Dominique Easley, said Wednesday he learned a valuable lesson: “Control what you can control ... in regards to everything in life and on the field. We couldn't control what happened last year.”

Senior defensive end William Green admits there was an entitlement problem last season. It wasn't just new players expecting bigger roles based on their recruiting ratings, but also an issue with the team thinking it could simply show up and collect victories.

Now Green sees a big difference in the three prized defensive line recruits, specifically in their commitment.

“Their maturity level, I think, they take a more professional approach to the game,” he said. “They work a lot harder. They've grown up a lot.”

Floyd now cites a refreshing new vibe at Florida, one that has brought all of the players together.

“The chemistry is way better on both sides of the ball,” he said.

“We're not just an offense, and we're not just a defense anymore. We're a team, and we break as a team, meaning after practice we don't break it down as an offense and defense. We break down as a team.

“We're in a new year, a new era, and we're just pushing forward.”

Howard's vantage point

Fifth-year senior defensive lineman Jaye Howard has seen greatness at quarterback in his time at Florida, both on the practice fields and from the sidelines.

His praise for true freshman second-string QB Jeff Driskel, therefore, carries some weight.

“He's great,” Howard said. “In my eyes he's the next Tim Tebow, honestly. He's so fast, like explosive. If something happens and (starter John) Brantley goes down, we feel he's reliable coming in the game.”

Even stronger was Howard's praise for Brantley after about a week and a half of preseason practice.

“All I can say is the SEC better watch out,” he said. “Brantley is on fire right now. His whole demeanor has changed. He's taken charge of the offense. He's running the show now, and you can really tell it.

“In my eyes, he's a Heisman candidate.”

Extra points

Demps said before camp he had an opportunity to increase his $1.5 million insurance policy through the school but decided not to. “I didn't want to really take that chance (of jinxing myself),” he said. ... Floyd, who has trained to play defensive tackle and defensive end for UF's new multiple-formation front, was asked what he likes best about playing defensive end. “Can't get double-teamed at that position,” he said with a quick laugh. Floyd and Howard said the defense spends a nearly equal amount of time in the 4-3 and 3-4 alignments. ... Sophomore safety Matt Elam singled out two receivers who have caught his eye. “The ones that stuck out the most to me are Frankie (Hammond Jr.) and Quinton (Dunbar),” Elam said. “It seems like they don't drop anything. They're really good receivers.” ... Rainey gave special praise to sophomore Trey Burton: “He's doing great. He does the same thing every year. I say he's a program guy. He does everything right. I love him. We need people like that. It's very rare. It'd be nice to have the whole team like that. ... He's at fullback, but just in different positions. He can catch, he can run, he can block, he can do everything.”

Contact Jeff Barlis at (352) 374-5066 or barlisj@gvillesun.com and follow at Twitter.com/JeffBarlis.

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