March 21, 2007

Spring practice arrives

Spring football practice started at Florida on Wednesday and sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow said that means one thing: Last season's national championship is in the past. It's time for the Gators to move on.

"Getting the reps in practice and watching film and just growing as a team and maturing are the biggest things," Tebow said. "We've pretty much kept ourselves isolated and working out and try to focus on this season. The off-season was awesome. It was a lot of fun. But now everybody is at the bottom of the mountain and we have to work our way up to the top again."

It was a little more than two months ago that Florida defeated Ohio State to win the national championship, so those memories are still fresh in the Gators' minds. But this is a vastly different team that enters spring practice. Nine defensive starters are gone.

Redshirt junior defensive end Derrick Harvey and senior safety Tony Joiner are the two players that remain from a defense that allowed only 13.5 points last season. Harvey finished with 35 tackles and a team-high 11 sacks. Joiner was third on the team with 59 tackles and he added two interceptions.

"We all have to (move on)," coach Urban Meyer said. "Sometimes that is hard. You walk by and you see that highlight tape. You walk by and you see (former linebacker) Earl Everett. In the spring game, they're going to get the national championship ring. I don't think you ever forget it, but as (New England Patriots coach) Bill Belichick said, 'it's time to move on.' That's more difficult. It's not that easy to do that."

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