With their first two games against overmatched opponents behind them, the Florida Gators have officially turned their attention to rival Tennessee.
"The season starts now," UF senior receiver David Nelson said shortly after a 56-6 win over Troy.
Next Saturday's game, which generally marks the start of the conference season for Florida, will receive even more attention this week because of comments first-year Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin made this year accusing Florida coach Urban Meyer of cheating during recruiting. Kiffin has since apologized several times and the UF players and coaches insisted the game is big just because it's the Vols and it's an SEC East game.
The Gators have won four in a row against the Vols.
"Oh yeah, it's a lot of juice looking forward to this week just because it's a rivalry game, Tennessee, and it's been a big game, got a lot of history," senior LB Ryan Stamper said. "I'm looking forward to it."
Meyer said the players are the ones who are setting the tone.
"A lot of our guys said the season starts tomorrow," Meyer said. "I didn't say that, the players said that. And to go out there and play like they did today, and last week, with the professionalism that they did, I'm starting to admire some of the guys on this team. We'll see if they show up ready to rock 'n' roll (today). Rivalry week starts."
Apparently what you won't hear out of Gainesville this week is smack talking. Asked about Kiffin, players repeatedly responded, "No comment."
"I don't think there will be much trash talk, I don't think we have a lot of guys who do that," Florida QB Tim Tebow said. "I think we're just going to go out there, work hard, go play and that's all there is to it."
A NEW SEARCH: After senior PK Jonathan Phillips badly missed a 39-yard field goal wide right, Meyer might rethink the place kicking duties. "I'm going to open up the kicking battle a little bit," Meyer said. "Phillips is doing okay, but Phillip Sturgis we're going to open that battle up a little bit."
THOMPSON REDEEMED: After dropping a sure touchdown in the season opener against Charleston Southern, then dropping his first one on Saturday, WR Deonte Thompson was a little concerned. "At first I'm like, man can I ever get it going?" Thompson said.
He got going with two touchdown passes from Tebow, a 6-yarder and a 33-yarder.
"No one has lost confidence in Deonte Thompson," Meyer said.
PERFECT MISTAKE: Tebow's 36-yard touchdown pass to roommate Riley Cooper wasn't exactly planned that way.
Cooper and Thompson ended up in the same area of the end zone before Cooper reached up and grabbed the ball. The play was apparently designed for Thompson, but Cooper ended up with it.
"It was the play we drew up, but we just had a few busted routes, and the guys weren't quite in the position we put on the board," Tebow said. "It was okay though, we made a play."
Meyer said Cooper is playing "at a level we all thought he could play, but probably never has."