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UF: Extra points
By Times Staff
Published September 1, 2006
PLAYERS FROM THE AREA
Jim Barrie, Tampa
Andre Caldwell, Tampa
Riley Cooper, Clearwater
Jarred Fayson, Tampa
Joey Ijjas, Clearwater
A.J. Jones, Tampa
Louis Murphy, St. Petersburg
Kyle Newell, Tampa
Kyle Pupello, Tampa
Trent Pupello, Tampa
Bryan Thomas, Zephyrhills
BY THE NUMBERS
3: Defensive linemen on the Lombardi Award watch list, the most Florida has ever had.
50: Touchdowns Florida quarterback Chris Leak said he'd like to throw this year.
25: Touchdown passes Andre Caldwell, above, said he might catch if Leak throws 50 this year.
$1.5- million: Roughly the total salary for the UF assistant coaches, $500,000 more than the group of assistants who led the Gators to their most recent SEC Championship Game, in 2000.
11: Number worn by special players since Steve Spurrier unretired his old number. The current recipient is former Hillsborough High star Jarred Fayson.
$12-million: Money UF will make over the next six years thanks to one extra game per season.
THE GANG'S ALL HERE
There was a time not so long ago when you could count the Tampa-St. Petersburg area players on the Florida roster with one hand.
Not so anymore.
There are 11 area players on the roster this season, and the athletes said being surrounded by familiar faces is a bonus, especially for those away from home for the first time.
"It's real nice because all of us pretty much know each other, and all of us know how each other plays, so we can help each other out," linebacker A.J. Jones said. "We bond well. And it's spreading throughout the team, and we're getting that team unity just like coach (Urban) Meyer wants, so it's real nice to have so many guys from the Tampa area.
"I've been trying to tell everybody the area's on the rise because I remember you used to always hear (Miami-) Dade County and Polk County," Jones said. "Now Hillsborough County is coming into effect. We've got some good football there, and now people are starting to see it."
A BRUTAL STRETCH
The 2006 schedule contains a stretch of consecutive tough opponents for the Gators: Alabama, No. 8 LSU, at No. 4 Auburn and No. 15 Georgia. By the time Florida hits this stretch, it will already have faced No. 23 Tennessee.
While fans may be fretting, Meyer refuses to worry.
"I've talked with other people who have had tough schedules and we are not worrying about that right now," Meyer said. "That is not going to change. We are excited about playing it. I also know we are playing a team called Southern Miss in the first game. As a coaching staff, there will be no discussion about our schedule other than getting our team ready for each game, one game at a time."
How Florida has fared this decade against those teams:
A CENTURY CELEBRATION
Florida's celebration of 100 years of football will be evident all around the stadium this season. UF athletic officials spent the last weeks of August installing a graphics enhancement program at the stadium, which will honor former SEC champions and individual accomplishments over the past 100 years. The display includes flags and banners that are permanently installed throughout the stadium, mainly on the north end and the west side. A mural displaying all the former Gator coaches will be on display and a display of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium when it was first constructed and as it is now. Throughout the campus, banners will be hung on street poles to commemorate events and individuals who have made a significant contribution to the program the past 100 years, along with signs outside the stadium seating area.
As part of the celebration, the Gators will wear throwback jerseys, including white helmets like those worn in the 1960s, in the Sept. 30 game against Alabama. Tickets and game-day programs will reflect on the past 100 years, and Florida will honor its 1996 national championship team in a pregame ceremony at the season-opener Saturday.