Business as usual for Gators
Published: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 31, 2012 at 10:00 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS — Bourbon Street, and all that goes with it, is a relatively short walk from Florida's team hotel. But as far as the Gators are concerned, the famous/infamous street might as well be University Avenue.
Florida vs. Louisville, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN
Despite potential distractions all around them, the Gators say this game week for the Sugar Bowl has been no different than any game week back in Gainesville.
The focus is on football and football only.
This may be a party town, but the Gators apparently aren't doing much of that. Not even on New Year's Eve.
“Normal Thursday practice for us today,” UF coach Will Muschamp said Monday. “It's not New Year's Eve, it's Thursday practice. It's normal game week. We're ready to go.
“No, we will not (celebrate the New Year). We'll be asleep.”
Several players have made the short trek to Bourbon Street over the past few days, but they haven't stayed long. The favorite gathering place of the players apparently has been the team hotel.
“It's like we're back in Gainesville,” sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy said. “We haven't been going out a lot, really. We've just been laid back, getting a lot of rest. We've had to get up at 7:15 every morning, so I don't think anybody has wanted to go out, really.
“It's just been another week of practice. Today was Thursday. We're really focused on this game.”
The players have been given the go-ahead to grab a taste of the nightlife if they wish. But senior place-kicker Caleb Sturgis said staying in has been a more popular choice on most nights, and that the curfew Muschamp put on the players at the start of the stay has not been much of a factor.
“I think more players are hanging around the hotel,” he said. “They have a great suite they provide for us. I think the guys here just really enjoy being around each other. We've stayed in the hotel a little bit more (than in past bowl games).”
Muschamp said none of the players have missed curfew since the team arrived in New Orleans.
Muschamp was asked Monday how his players have dealt with all the potential distractions.
“Very well,” he said. “Been on time for everything. Everyone's been at everything they're supposed to be at.
“I've been very pleased with them. They've acted like a mature football team, which is what they are.”
It's a mature team that's focused on getting ready for a game, just like the Gators have done throughout this 11-1 season.
“This feels exactly like a normal game week,” Sturgis said. “This is our normal Thursday before a game.
“I don't think anyone's mind is on anything else. I think we're an accountable football team. We've got a good group of seniors and great underclassmen who take things very seriously. When you're accountable and doing the right things, you're going to have a good game.”
There were no plans for an exciting — and late — New Year's Eve.
“I'm just going to be in my room hanging out with my roommate,” fullback Hunter Joyer said. “I'll probably be playing some video games.”
Purifoy had a similar night planned.
“I might be to bed early,” he said. “That's what we need to be, asleep.”
It's kind of the same way things would be if the Gators were back in Gainesville on a Thursday night before a game.
“Coach Muschamp is making sure that we're focusing only on the game and not the other distractions,” punter Kyle Christy said. “We're treating this like a normal game week. We'll take it easy, relax and hang out at the hotel.
“We're extremely focused.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.
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