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Loss in SEC title game still pains Florida Gators

Now in the spotlight: New Gators starting quarterback John Brantley fields questions on the first day of fall practice.

Doug Finger | Gainesville Sun

Now in the spotlight: New Gators starting quarterback John Brantley fields questions on the first day of fall practice.

GAINESVILLE — In his dreams, he can still see it as vividly as if the game were played earlier that day. Then again, maybe that's because he has seen tape of it more than a dozen times.

For Florida running back Chris Rainey and many teammates, the memory of the Dec. 5 SEC title game against Alabama — a 32-13 loss — haunts even now.

So when the Gators opened fall practice at 5:55 a.m. Thursday, Alabama was there. Where it was all spring. And throughout the summer during grueling workouts with strength and conditioning coordinator Mickey Marotti.

"A lot. All the time," Rainey said when asked how often the players heard about the loss, which cost Florida a berth in the BCS national title game. "That's all they talk about here. Alabama. Think about Alabama.

"So every game I play, I'm going to think about Alabama."

The redshirt junior from Lakeland said he has watched tape of the game "20 or 25 times."

The entire game.

Rainey remembers playing just one snap, which he said was particularly troublesome because he met former Gator great Emmitt Smith earlier that evening and hoped to make a good impression.

"We got embarrassed," he said. "We looked like a high school team out there. And every time they show the video, it's like, 'Dang, was that us, for real?' "

Some Gators tried to downplay Rainey's comments, saying it was a tough loss to the eventual national champions, but they've found a way to move on. Sort of.

"Any time you lose a game, especially one that big, you always focus on the points that cause you to lose the game," senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders said. "That's definitely been a factor to how hard we've been training and why we have been working so hard."

LOCK DOWN: In the aftermath of multiple NCAA investigations of improper conduct with agents at various SEC schools, coach Urban Meyer said he plans to tighten access to players.

Florida will close all fall practices this year (compared with having two open last year) and will use security to escort players the approximate quarter-mile from the practice field to the locker room.

"People were showing up, and it's, 'Who are you, and why are you here?' " Meyer said. "We can't live the players' lives, but we can certainly do the best we can. You should have the right as a player to walk from (the practice field to the locker room) without being bothered, practice and come back without being bothered. Now if you get bothered on your own, that's different."

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Sharrif looked like he just came straight out of prison. He's strong. He looks mean. He's 310 pounds." — Senior running back Emmanuel Moody on the appearance of freshman defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd

Miscellany: Receiver T.J. Law­rence has left the team. Meyer said he had "good grades" but wanted to go where he might see more playing time. Lawrence almost left last season, but the coaches talked him into staying. … Tight end Desmond Parks had wrist surgery and is expected to miss 2-3 weeks. … Receiver Frankie Hammond is practicing in an effort to rejoin the team after his arrest on DUI charges. Hammond is not on scholarship and is paying his own tuition. … Cal transfer linebacker Chris Martin joined the team and was at practice.

Loss in SEC title game still pains Florida Gators 08/05/10 [Last modified: Thursday, August 5, 2010 11:40pm]
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