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From the Outback Bowl: Steelers players/former Gators Starks and Pouncey talk about their alma mater's tough season

December 27, 2010 - Cory Giger
Losing doesn't sit well at Florida, which peaked at No. 7 in the country in week five before collapsing and finishing 7-5.

A couple of former Gators who now play for the Pittsburgh Steelers have kept a close eye on their alma mater this season.

"[A 7-5 season] doesn't go over well there," Steelers offensive tackle Max Starks said. "At the start of the season, we had high expectations to compete in the Eastern Division of the conference, at least contending to go to the SEC [championship]."

Starks played at Florida from 2000-03, before Meyer came on board and won two national titles with a dynamic offense and Tim Tebow.

"It wasn't necessarily the loss of Tebow, but more so the system was still fashioned for a Tebow player," Starks said of the problems this year. "We tried to put in John Brantley, more of a pocket passer, into a run-and-gun offense, and it stymied us a little bit. He's not the same type of athlete as Tebow.

"We subbed in [Trey] Burton to be a Tebow-esque guy, but he does not have a strong arm. It would have worked better if we could have put the two together to make that one player. But it was a year of transition. I think the new coach will identify the strengths of the team and get an offense together to fit the personnel."

Steelers rookie center Maurkice Pouncey also paid close attention to the Gators because his brother, Mike, is the team's starting center. Maurkice, who played on Florida's 2008 national title team, said his brother visited Pittsburgh for the Jets game and stayed for several days.

"I'm looking to catch a flight back down there with him to hang out in Florida," Maurkice Pouncey said.

The Steelers recently signed former Penn State punter Jeremy Kapinos, who was on the Nittany Lions' 2006 Outback Bowl team.

"Me and Jeremy, our new kicker, got a bet on the game," Pouncey said. "It's crazy. He came in, and we're playing Penn State. We got to get a win down there, especially with everything that's been going down. The kids need a win to have a positive end to the season."

(Mirror Sports Editor Buck Frank contributed to this story from Pittsburgh.)

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