Special thanks to OGGOA‘s two intrepid student correspondents Jordan Rothwell and Tiffany Bowers for their significant contributions to the below post.
Florida Gators football opened itself up Wednesday, allowing University of Florida students an opportunity to ask coaches, players and support staff a wide variety of both intriguing and silly questions at the inaugural Student Town Hall Meeting held at the Touchdown Terrace at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
With over 600 students in attendance, every seat in the house was filled and it was standing room (students were in front of the stadium as early as 4:30 p.m. waiting to get in when the gates opened at 7 p.m.).
On hand were head coach Urban Meyer, offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti, director of player and community relations Terry Jackson, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, senior safety Ahmad Black and junior running back Jeff Demps.
Each student who attended received a 2008 National Championship DVD, Student Town Hall t-shirt and the opportunity to enjoy pizza and drinks as the event came to a close. Throughout the meeting, the team aired a number of highlight videos for the crowd including the recruiting video shown to some of the top high school players in the country when trying to get them to attend UF.
Read about everything that was said at the meeting…after the break!
– Microphones were set around Touchdown Terrace to let students get up and ask the questions for which they really were looking for answers.
– Some obviously seemed a little star struck and their questions did not necessarily make sense by the time they were done. Others rambled without even getting a question out.
– A lot of questions elicited the response of “Miami of Ohio,” which became a running joke during the meeting.
– Video games were brought up on a few occasions with students asking the players about playing as themselves and how “real” the game play was by comparison.
– Marotti said redshirt senior offensive lineman Maurice Hurt can squat over 600 lbs.
– Jackson was egged on by the crowd to do his stuck in the mud dance, which he called “excitement” and not a dance. He eventually agreed and did it to the song “Stanky Leg.
– Meyer said wide receiver Percy Harvin and tight end Aaron Hernandez were examples of the two perfect spread offense players for the Gators.
– Addazio closed the meeting with an example of one of his pre-game speeches, similar to what he does at every Gator Gathering he attends.
Meyer’s opening statement: “We wanted to do something special this year. Because we never want to take for granted our best resource we have … and that’s our students. So this is nothing more than saying welcome back to school. I want you to meet some of our new players, I want you to meet some of our coaches – old and new.”
Meyer on what questions can be asked: “You can ask any question you want – any question you want. I mean that – we’re all family here – so let it ride.”
Addazio asked if the Gators will still run the triple option: “Absolutely. That is a staple here. We are going to have that play – it will always be a staple here at Florida. We got a great athlete at quarterback running it.”
Meyer on coaching the Gators for the first time: “I found out the people in the South take this stuff real serious down here – like bizarre.”
Black on 2005 Lakeland Dreadnaughts vs. 2009 Florida Gators: “It’s about a tie. I think the game would be 0-0.”
Black on Will Hill and Matt Elam: “Major [Wright]’s a great player, and I’m glad he’s doing the things he’s doing. But Will’s a great player as well, and so is Matt. Matt’s coming along every day, and we’re trying to get him game ready.”
Black on his personal goals: “Nothing personal. I became a team player. I just want to do whatever it takes to help my team get to a National [Championship].”
Black on the 2009 defense vs. 2010 defense : “We got a younger defense compared to last year, I think we’re a little bit faster this year. … I’m excited to see the young guys get out there and play.”
Demps on the second fastest guy on the team: “I was just about to say Brantley, but…I’d probably have to say Chris Rainey – he was awesome on the track team and he got a lot faster this year, so I have to say him.”
Meyer on the Gators wearing orange pants and blue jerseys this year: “[Laughing] That’s up to Mickey Marotti, our strength coach.”
Marotti on wearing orange pants and blue jerseys: “Sure.”
Demps on who he would want to hurdle in the SEC: “I’m not too familiar with the players in the SEC, actually. But I’ll try to hurdle any defender that tackle[s] me. [Laughing]”
Demps on the who he is looking forward to playing: “Miami of Ohio. A lot of you probably think I’m joking, but I’m dead [serious].”
Addazio on his expectations for Brantley: “Our expectations will be for John like they are for every other player: come in here, play real hard, be a great teammate, compete real hard – every week, week in and week out, prepare real hard. And he’s going to do that.”
Brantley on his expectations: “I’m just going to do anything to help this team get back to Atlanta. We’ve had a great few years in the past and, now with Tebow gone, I’m just going to try to keep that ball rolling and get back to Atlanta.”
Meyer on replacing coaches vs. losing players: “With all due respect to our coaches, this is a player’s game. Ya’ll notice in our home games, the players are the first ones to run on the field. This is not some silly nonsense like I see some of these other schools do. We’re all about our players. We’re all about making sure our players put on a good show for the student body. That’s what we’re here for. And so it’s easier to replace a coach than to replace a good player. However, at Florida, you’re expected to replace great players with great players, and I think we have.”
Black on if he can get more pick-offs than Hill: “Well, in my video game, I’m winning.”
Meyer on if the team will win the National Championship: “Repeat after me: Miami of Ohio. [Smiling] Go ahead and sit down. [Laughing]”
Meyer on if the jump pass will remain in the playbook: “The jump pass is in. In all seriousness, it is in. We’re going to keep that jump pass. It’s never going away.
Austin on the opening game: “It’ll be my first time in The Swamp in nine days…and I’m damn excited.”
Addazio on hype about Andre Debose: “He’s really athletic, he really is. He’s really shown some exciting moments at practice in the spring, now at training camp. Without question he’s got that dynamic ability. He’s a guy that can take the top off the coverage, come back into the backfield, take a hand-off – he can do all of those things. It’s really exciting, and I think you’ll see him in all of those roles.”
Addazio on running trick plays: “Wow, this is a big deal, these video games are pretty serious. I think we should consult EA Sports.”
Meyer on running trick plays: “Here’s an offensive coach’s thought about trick plays: When you don’t have great players and you have to create plays… If you remember, we had a bunch of injuries back in ’05, I don’t know if you remember or not but we ran three fake punts and doing this and doing this. All of a sudden you got guys like Demps and Brantley and some of the ball player’s we’ve had here… Instead of trick plays, let’s just give him the ball one more time. I’m being sincere. When you’ve been stuck without playmakers, that’s when you have to start doing crazy stuff. We’d rather not. We’d rather recruit well and give guys like this the ball. When you see teams doing a lot of that stuff, which we’ve done it before, you do it when you have to create a play. We have enough playmakers. But I’d rather see John Brantley drop back and let it go to one of our guys.”
Meyer’s closing statement: “We want this to be the one place that everybody wants to be. We don’t want to be like some of the schools in the state where half the stadium is empty – I could get into a lot of stories – we’re not going to do that. We’re going to have the greatest student body. I’m going to ask you to get there early – get loud, get nuts. One of the greatest things we do – we started this tradition five years ago – we come over and we raise our helmets and we salute you guys, the student body, because we can’t do this without you. So, out of respect, we did this for you tonight. Out of respect to us, I’m going to ask you to show up. Let’s have a lot of fun together [and] put on the greatest show on Earth.”