Get used to hearing the phrase. It’s what Florida head coach Will Muschamp has preached to his team since his arrival in Gainesville.
It’s the phrase the first-year coach wants his team to live by when preparing for its opponents, which means essentially that Alabama is exactly the same as Florida Atlantic, UAB, Tennessee or Kentucky. At least, that’s how the Gators are treating the Crimson Tide as they begin their preparation for Saturday’s game against the nation’s No. 3 team.
“That’s just another team we’re going up against,” defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd said. “We’re going to go into it as if we went into UAB, as if we went into Tennessee. It’s just another game.
In fact, player after player has repeated the phrase when asked if playing Alabama, who beat Florida 31-6 a year ago, means more to the Gators this year.
Last year’s blowout apparently doesn’t matter to the Gators, nor do any of the individual players who helped the Crimson Tide pull out the big win, like running back Trent Richardson.
“We try to look at all teams, all backs the same every week,” defensive tackle Dominique Easley said. “So we try to prepare the same every week.”
The Gators won’t be out for revenge against the Crimson Tide, either.
“We don’t really worry about that, we just worry about what we’ve got to correct and what we’ve got to do right,” Easley said. “Our motivation is each other.”
Florida will be the underdog for the first time this season against Alabama, but that’s not giving the team any extra motivation, either.
Interestingly enough, Floyd seemed to think the Gators were underdogs against Tennessee and Kentucky. Perhaps that’s a motivational tactic Florida’s coaches have used in lieu of Urban Meyer’s strategy of amping up his team for big games and rivalries.
“We’re just going to play ball,” Floyd said. “We’ve been underdogs the last two weeks, it’s nothing new to us. We’re going to prepare, we’re going to play to the best of our abilities.”
Quarterback John Brantley is the one of the only Florida players even remotely admitting that playing Alabama adds a little more life and energy to the week leading up to the game.
Even he’s buying into what seems to be the theme for Florida this season, though. Take everything one game at a time.
“This one’s big, but we’re going to treat it like any other game,” Brantley said. “Every game means the same to us. If we come out with a W, that means we got a win. That’s all it is to us, and we’re going to prepare as hard as we can this week like it’s any other game.”
Brantley wasn’t as quick as some of his teammates to dodge talk about what this week’s game means for the fans.
“There are certain games that bring the intensity,” he said. “But when I say I mean the same, they mean the same on the schedule. A win’s a win. Different games bring different intensity, but we try to be as intense Game 1 to Game 10. You just always want to bring that intensity.”
So where does the Alabama game rank on Brantley’s intensity scale?
“It’s pretty high, probably.”
Linebacker Jelani Jenkins agreed with him, noting that Alabama is a terrific team that knows how to play sound, fundamental football.
“They’re a very good team, and I think we’re going to be really intense,” Jenkins said. “We’ll be really passionate out there.”
While Jenkins and the Gators aren’t preparing any differently this week, he knows the caliber of teams that will go at it on Saturday.
That alone adds some juice to the atmosphere.
“It’s always fun when it’s a very challenging game,” he said. “You’ve got two really good SEC teams going against each other, so it’s going to be a fun game.”
But don’t let the excitement and the buzz in the air confuse you.
Florida isn’t treating this game any differently than any other. It’s just one game on the schedule. No more, no less.
“We’re just trying to focus on each game one week at a time,” Jenkins said. “Of course we want to win, but we’re just trying to focus on this game at a time, not focusing on the rest of the season.”