Meyer: Florida not underestimating Troy’s talent
By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Maybe Florida coach Urban Meyer was taking a shot at rival Tennessee.
He also may have been talking about Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt or South Carolina.
Either way, Meyer has been consistent since the first day of fall practice: He believes Troy has more NFL-caliber talent than several Southeastern Conference teams on Florida’s schedule.
Ohio State and LSU probably would agree.
Troy (0-1) gave the Buckeyes and Tigers all they could handle last season. The Trojans trailed 14-10 in the fourth quarter at Ohio State, and were up 31-3 late in the third at LSU before the Tigers mounted a huge comeback.
The top-ranked Gators (1-0) don’t want to be next when they host Troy (0-1) today. So instead of spending too much time talking about the Trojans’ 31-14 loss at Bowling Green last week, Meyer reminded his team of those close calls last season.
“Talent’s not the issue,” Meyer said. “I’m sure they have some depth issues. But first-string talent, that’s SEC-caliber football.”
Meyer has proof, too.
“I always do this. I have some contacts. I say, ‘Give me the pro prospects on each college team we’re going to face. I want to know who they are.’ Troy had more than several SEC opponents that we’re going to play this year, more NFL-projected players. That’s red flag No. 1. No. 2 is they’re known every year for having some major-league upset.”
Well, a near-upset anyway.
The three-time defending Sun Belt Conference champions are 1-9 against the SEC under longtime coach Larry Blakeney, with the lone win coming at Mississippi State in 2001. They also are 1-15 against ranked opponents — 0-8 against top-10 teams — since joining the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2001.
But since upsetting Missouri in 2004, Troy has played LSU, Florida State and Georgia tough. The Trojans even outscored Florida 24-10 in the second half in a 59-31 loss two years ago at The Swamp. Nonetheless, Troy is a 36 1/2-point underdog against the defending national champion.
“I like being the underdog,” quarterback Levi Brown said. “I’m used to it. It’s been that way throughout my career.”
No one is sure what happened to Troy last week. The Trojans led 14-0 before allowing 31 unanswered points.
“It gives us a chance to come back and show the world that we can still contend with the big-time teams,” receiver Jerrel Jernigan said.
Meyer isn’t worried about his players overlooking Troy. He believes Troy has his team’s attention because of those tight games.
The Gators also are excited about facing better competition than they got from Charleston Southern, a middle-of-the-pack team from the Football Championship Subdivision.
“We got the preseason game out the way,” safety Ahmad Black said. “Now, we’re in the real ball, even more real ball next week.”