<
>

Gators' secondary fueled by Vols poster

Oh, the classic mind games coaches play with their players.

Former Florida coach Urban Meyer was great at them with his rivalry-week rituals, such as blasting opposing fight songs in the locker room and weight room, and tarnishing Florida's most sacred of areas with rival colors, logos and pictures.

It fired up his players and maybe it was a big reason Meyer lost just a couple of games to Florida's immediate rivals.

Well, Florida's new coaching staff used some of that last week when it gave its defensive backs a poster of Tennessee receivers Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter. The poster had pictures of Rogers and Hunter and their stats on it. Hunter's last name is actually spelled "Hunger" on it.

At the top of the poster is a quote that reads: "Throw a jump ball or something like that. Ill come down with it over the Florida DBs!"

We aren't sure where the quote originated from, but chances are the players thought it came from one of the two Tennessee receivers.

Florida safety Matt Elam actually brought the poster into the postgame news conference and showed it off to members of the media after Saturday's game. He said the posters were on every defensive back's locker during the week.

"Coming in this week, these two guys [Rogers and Hunter] was talking a lot of trash about what they were going to do to us and focusing on how we were too slow and saying how there were in a groove and how they were going to come dominate us," Elam said.

"We handled that situation well."

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns, but Florida grabbed two interceptions -- dropping five more in the process -- and turned it into a passing game in the second half after the front seven took the run away.

However, things might have been different for Florida's secondary had Hunter, who entered the game with 16 catches for 302 yards and two touchdowns, not been injured. He tore his ACL on the fourth play from scrimmage for the Vols and missed the rest of the game.

Elam said he was upset with the chatter the coaches said the Vols directed to the Gators' secondary last week.

“Coach was in our ear all week saying, 'They talking trash, they are not coming into our house and talking trash,'" Elam said.

Elam added that the talk extended to the field. Both he and Rogers were seen getting into each other's face during the game on multiple occasions. After Rogers' touchdown grab to cut the game to 30-13 in the third quarter, Rogers stared down Elam who walked up to him and pointed to the scoreboard.

“Yeah, Da’Rick Rogers, there was a lot of bickering going on back and forth, but that’s just the game,” Elam said. “He was saying, you know, he's bigger than all us, so ‘You too small,’ and things like that. I kept telling him ‘You gonna get hit. You gonna get hit.' I was just trying to hit him, that’s all.”

Elam eventually got the last word when he picked off Bray at Florida's 17-yard line with less than two minutes left.