GAINESVILLE — Things are about to get a lot more challenging for the Florida Gators from here on out, but it was tough to get most of them to acknowledge that Monday.
One by one they came in during the weekly media session and talked about how Saturday's SEC opener against Tennessee is no different than any other. Forget that they won the first two games by a combined 80-3, or that even coach Will Muschamp was bummed because the Gators hadn't faced much adversity. All opponents are the same, right?
Finally, the truth emerged.
"I'm really excited," all-purpose player Trey Burton said. "It's a big game for us. It's always fun when we play SEC games because they count."
Muschamp said he reinforces the nameless, faceless opponent concept so players will prepare the same every week. But to pretend that this week's opponent isn't different from the previous two seemed, well, just silly.
"It's a completely different ball game," said senior QB John Brantley, who grew up loving this rivalry. "SEC, I believe it's one of the toughest conferences. And no matter who you're playing, you've got to be on your A game, and you've got to be going in there with a lot of intensity."
INJURY UPDATE: Senior RB Jeff Demps (shoulder) and sophomore TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) are expected to play. Junior CB Jeremy Brown (knee) is questionable for the third consecutive week. "He's going to try to get out (on the field)," Muschamp said. "He's trying to get out there each week. The injury is much more severe than we first thought."
finley arrested: Backup LB Darnavius A. "Dee" Finley is scheduled to appear in an Alachua County courthouse today after he was arrested early Monday and charged with driving with a suspended license and resisting a police officer with violence — a third-degree felony.
According to a police report, the sophomore from Alabama drove his scooter around a barricade near the football stadium and was pulled over. Finley attempted to leave, the report said, and an officer grabbed his wrist, but Finley allegedly pushed the officer's hand away. He eventually obeyed a request to put his hands behind his back.
According to DMV records, Finley's license is suspended for failure to pay multiple fines and attend court appearances.
HONORED: OL Xavier Nixon was among the Gators who carried an American flag onto the field before Saturday's game against UAB in commemoration of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Nixon's father is retired from the military, and his mother is still active in the Army. "It was a great sense of pride," Nixon said. "Both my parents have served this country. I just saw my mother's face in my head as I was running out there, and I felt real proud."
EXPECTING MORE: Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and Muschamp insist they haven't held back anything in the first two games, but Tennessee coach Derek Dooley isn't buying that.
"We don't have a lot to go on because in both games they just overwhelmed their opponents and it's like watching a preseason game," Dooley said. "I don't think they showed a lot. I know they are going to show a lot more against us.
"They are going to be fresh. They got their guy (DT Sharrif Floyd, suspended for the first two games) back. We are going to have to be prepared for a lot more than what we saw in the first two games."