GAINESVILLE — The Gators return 18 starters from their national championship team from 2008. It’s almost the exact same group that worked harder and stayed focused after rallying behind Tim Tebow’s famous speech.
Many of them have two championship rings. They know coach Urban Meyer’s program and know what it takes to be a winner.
So the Gators know how to stay hungry after two national championships in three years, right coach? No chance of complacency?
“No chance? Big chance,” Meyer said Wednesday after the Gators opened spring practice for the 2009 season. “It’s our job not to let that happen.”
Complacency set in during the 2007 season, when the Gators followed their championship with a 9-4 season and a loss in the Capital One Bowl.
But Meyer is confident that won’t happen this year, because the makeup of the team is much different than it was following the 2006 title. The 2007 team was a new group of young players who had little impact on the 2006 championship, while this year’s team returns almost every significant player except for Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy.
The players who were around in 2007 said Wednesday they don’t want to experience a season like that again.
“We got a national championship, we enjoyed it, and then we just came back to work,” linebacker Brandon Spikes said. “Now we’re trying to get another one.”
But just to be sure, Meyer has a plan to keep his players staying hungry.
“The only way I really know how to do it is just make it the hardest summer they’ve gone through in their lives,” Meyer said. “Just make it real hard so no one will have time to be complacent.
Meyer also got a boost in the motivation department from new Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin, who has spent much of the first four months on the job providing bulletin board material for other SEC schools, especially Florida.
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