Florida players confident success will continue
Although they insist preseason magazines aren't a big part of their summer reading material, Florida players are well aware there's a certain level of uncertainty surrounding this team as they prepare to begin fall practice next week.
In fact, it's a subject they are faced with quite often.
"On campus or around town, people ask all the time 'Are we going to be good this year?','' safety Ahmad Black said. "They don't want to just come out and say 'I heard we were going to be sorry this year.' They don't want to come straight out and say it. But I always assure them, we're going to be good.''
Florida lost five starters on offense, including former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, and six on defense - among them four juniors who are all on NFL rosters.
"We definitely lost a bunch of guys - safety, linebacker D-line, corner, top to bottom,'' senior DE Justin Trattou said. "But we have some talented guys that really haven't gotten a good chance to play yet.''
The Gators also lost longtime defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, who is now the head coach at Louisville. But the players believe former NFL assistant Teryl Austin is a solid replacement, and said the player-coach bond has been nurtured during the offseason.
"Coach Austin came in and showed us a few things he brought from the NFL,'' Black said. "He's a little quieter than coach Strong. You could hear Strong during the play, sometimes. But coach Austin is growing on me. I love coach Strong to death, but coach Austin is my guy right now.''
So Black said when he assures fans the ship isn't sinking in Gainesville, he's confident the Gators can back that up.
"At the end of the day we're still Florida,'' he said. "We're still one of the prominent teams in the nation. There's no doubt in my mind we're going to continue our success.''