I guess you could say the Florida Gators are excited for Tennessee week.
Though the usual Internet swipes have dissipated in Gainesville, members of Florida's secondary approached media members on Tuesday with a sharp, although confusing message for their Rocky Top rivals.
"Nobody has ever seen a duck pull a truck. Florida Gators are going to win, simple as that," Quincy Wilson said. "That's it on that. Any other questions?"
Oh, so many. But Wilson did a pretty good job of explaining his strange metaphor to the media. Essentially, Florida is the truck, and Tennessee is the duck. It's physically impossible for a duck to actually pull a truck. It lacks the obvious physical strength and the needed opposable thumbs to properly grip any sort of rope to do said pulling.
"We're going to go out there and play Gator football and win," Wilson said.
It might not be the most brash thing a Florida player has said in the past year to stir this rivalry, but it does show you the confidence members of the 19th-ranked Gators have heading into Saturday's heavily anticipated matchup with No. 14 Tennessee in Knoxville. And why shouldn't they be confident? Florida has absolutely owned this series with 11 straight wins. Tennessee should have won last year but fell apart in the fourth quarter like a soup sandwich when it let a 13-point lead with less than five minutes remaining to slip away.
The year before, quarterback Treon Harris came off the bench to lead Florida to a 10-9 win. Both years you could have argued that Tennessee was the better team, and this year many think Tennessee is the East's most talented team.
But the Gators aren't listening to that. For most of the year, Florida players have taken the Vols to task and it's injecting some fun into a lopsided rivalry.
Cornerback Teez Tabor has been ruthless in his assault on Tennessee. In April, he went after Tennessee great Peyton Manning and his inability to beat Florida during his time in Knoxville:
Might as well bring the sheriff out of retirement— Teez Tabor (@_31Flavorz) April 13, 2016
😒 too bad he didn't have any luck against the gators— Teez Tabor (@_31Flavorz) April 13, 2016
A day later, he mocked ESPN's Football Power Index for predicting that the Vols would win the SEC East by an overwhelming margin in some since-deleted tweets.
Tabor first tweeted: "They" picked UT to win the east the last 3 years" and then "I feel sorry for "they" before ending with "We'll make it 12 years in a row this year."
Tabor then tweeted back and forth with former LSU defensive back Jalen Mills and dropped this dime:
Shortly after, Tennessee running back Jalen Hurd responded:
O yea they got one but I forgot I'm the only Jalen they talk about in this conference 😂— Teez Tabor (@_31Flavorz) April 15, 2016
Tennessee linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin got in on the fun, too:
6'0 , 190. Jst talkin for attention. Not gonna end well buddy 🙏🏽— Jalen Hurd (@MrHurd_1) April 15, 2016
Naturally, Tabor wasn't going to let them get the last word:
PSA Can somebody please give this kid some attention. He's begging for it. https://t.co/Ovcsd5V42B— Jalen Reeves-Maybin (@Finally_Maybin) April 15, 2016
A couple of days later, Florida defensive lineman Caleb Brantley joined in with three since-deleted Instagram posts, including video of Will Grier's 63-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass in last season's 28-27 win by the Gators. In June, Tabor had the Vols on his mind during the NBA Finals:
Too many clowns got this name , but I'm the only one people kno and talk about in this conference anyway— Teez Tabor (@_31Flavorz) April 15, 2016
@dc_wilson954 they ain't tripping they just can't hang , something like UT in the forth lol— Teez Tabor (@_31Flavorz) June 6, 2016
In July, Tabor went on SiriusXM Radio to proclaim, "I mean, I don't know how many times you have to beat somebody over 10 years plus in a row for them to just really own up. It's just, I mean, I've never been beaten 11 years in a row by one team or one person, so I wouldn't know how that feels. But it's talked about a lot."
At SEC media days, Tabor's teammates weren't too thrilled with Tennessee being crowned preseason champs by the media.
"We're always going to be the Gators, and they're always going to be Tennessee, so what you see is what you get," Maye said.
Left tackle David Sharpe called the Tennessee hype a "head shaker."
In August, Tabor went on national television with ESPN's Paul Finebaum to boast that Florida would win its 12th straight over Tennessee and later told ESPN.com that this rivalry is pretty cut and dry at this point.
"It's as simple as this: Tennessee plays Florida every year -- either in Gainesville or in Knoxville -- and at Florida, we win," Tabor said. "At the end of the day, the University of Florida is going to beat the University of Tennessee. That's the culture, that's history. That's what's going to happen.
"Some things just continue to take place, and one of those things is the University of Florida beats the University of Tennessee in football."
This week, Tabor jumped in on Wilson's duck fun on Twitter, but not before hinting one more time at Florida extending its winning streak over Tennessee with this tweet during halftime of Tennessee's 28-19 win over Ohio:
Yep it's a L— Teez Tabor (@_31Flavorz) September 17, 2016
Florida coach Jim McElwain isn't sweating his players. He called Wilson's duck comments "classic" and said he isn't "into censorship" of his players. However, he was quick to add that all this talking better come with a lot of walking on Saturday.
"But hey look, these guys [are] who they are," he said. "You know, you better go back it up, I guess, whatever he said."