Rock star-less Gators look to reload

Florida coach Urban Meyer is calling this the “year of accountability and development.”

This much is for sure: He’s got some serious talent to develop.

The Gators might be young and inexperienced in spots, but they’re not lacking for talent.

And it almost sounds like a lot of these guys are chomping at the bit to prove that the Gators will be just as good, and maybe even better, now that all the “rock stars” and “prima donnas” are gone.

Hey, those aren’t my words. Those are Chris Rainey’s words.

He called this the closest team he’s ever been around, adding, “I guess we got rid of the prima donnas and the [selfish] cats. There are no rock stars this year, definitely not. You can say cliques or [selfish] cats, stuff like that, worried about themselves, worried about trying to get to the NFL.”

Granted, he might feel a little differently the first time the Gators face a key third-and-3 inside the 20 and he looks around and Tim Tebow is nowhere to be found.

Nonetheless, it’s clear that this team absolutely expects to be in the thick of the national championship race for a third straight year. Never mind that it’s replacing six All-Americans and nine players selected in the first five rounds of the NFL draft.

As senior center Mike Pouncey told me at SEC media days, “We don’t rebuild at Florida. We just reload.”

OK, maybe it is a cliché. But in the Gators’ case, they genuinely believe it.

They also believe that last year’s team, as good as it was and as talented as it was, might have had a God complex about it.

That was never more apparent than the SEC championship game when Alabama was clearly the team most ready to play and snapped Florida's 22-game winning streak.

“Alabama had an answer for everything we threw at them, and I would say we allowed a lot of complacency to set in on the team,” senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders said. “It's true. We got comfortable. We felt unbeatable, and as a whole, we probably didn't prepare as well as we could have."