9/1: Florida coach Meyer’s SEC teleconference

By Adam Silverstein
September 1, 2010

OGGOA had the opportunity to participate in Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer’s Southeastern Conference teleconference on Wednesday (we will be doing so every week). Below are some notes from Meyer’s media availability (full transcript later):

» Meyer answering OGGOA’s question about redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey’s importance to the offense: “It’s his year. He’s gonna perform. He’s ready for it. He’s up to almost 180 – 178 he told me yesterday. He’s stronger than he’s ever been. He’s now focused on a position that really his body is more trained to be. And he has to give us the home run shot, and he’s got the ability. There’s really not an offense who can function without a home run hitter. And he’s either one or two on our list of guys that can take it to the distance.”

» Asked about whether or not he was concerned about junior running back Jeff Demps returning kickoffs, Meyer said the team is being “very cautious” but “hopefully we don’t return many kicks.” He also noted that Demps getting injured is one of the team’s main concerns; he no longer participates in “non-essential running” drills during practice and the team is “very cautious” with him throughout the week. “He just goes 40 yards every time he touches it at warp speed.”

» Meyer refused to pick either redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown or senior Moses Jenkins as the team’s No. 2 cornerback, saying the duo is both competing in practice and will split time.

» He went out of his way to give shout-outs to freshmen quarterback Trey Burton and safety Matt Elam, redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins and sophomore LB Jon Bostic as four players who will soon become household names among Florida fans.

» Read the rest of what Meyer had to say…after the break!

Opening statement: “We look forward to Johnny Brantley era of Florida football – he’s certainly well-deserving of this opportunity. There’s going to be two-thirds of our team are freshman and sophomores, but this last week of practice has really put us in position to be a decent football team.”

On versatility at linebacker:A.J. Jones is basically our [Ryan] Stamper – he’s the only one that we feel that comfortable with moving around. Jelani’s that smart, he just doesn’t have the experience, so I’m not as comfortable as maybe the other guys – moving him around. But A.J. Jones is the one guy who can play all three [positions]. And then the rotation inside, because they’re similar off-the-ball players … to be able to play all three you have to be a special guy and have to have some experience. A.J. Jones is the only one who falls in that category right now.”

On the anticipation of watching his new freshmen: “I’m probably like Gator Nation. All we can do is prepare, so I’m not worried about that yet. I have thought about the first time you get to see those freshman run around out there. I think we’re going to be very pleased. I’m glad it’s home. I’m glad it’s an opportunity for even the ones that aren’t starting to settle down, because I know … I’ve seen their faces in that stadium for the first time. So settle down and let them go play a little bit.”

Meyer on his new personnel on the field: “I’m excited. I can’t say I was excited several months ago because I was more concerned than excited, but now I’ve seen what Jon Bostic has done in practice, I’ve seen what Jelani has done in practice. And, as important as anybody, I’ve seen what Johnny Brantley has – not so much throwing the ball, but the other things we’ve talked about many times – his leadership, his direction and the way his players are playing for him right now.”

Meyer on his keys to building a champion from the ground up: “The No. 1 thing to do is you go find out exactly where you’re at … one thing we’ve always done is have great respect for the institution we’re at. You have to do that. You have to sell that university and get good players in there … if you don’t know your place. The first thing I always do is invite guys like Norm Carlson, James Bates – former players – to come speak to our staff and tell us about what it’s like, because I had no idea. I even call guys like Coach [Steve] Spurrier I really care about. I don’t want to be an outsider, I want to be an insider as soon of possible. That’s hard to do. And then obviously the second thing is to get players in there and demand the work ethic. Once you do that, you have a shot.”

On the turning point for his team during practice: “I think two things. Number one is guys started getting healthy. We had a real rough offseason [and] training camp – real hot, real rough, and guys were dinged up. And there were guys on the field that weren’t quite ready yet. And then all of a sudden you get some experience back on the field and some players back on the field. [Lawrence] Marsh is coming back now, having [Terron] Sanders around. When those guys are out, it’s just a lot of young puppies out there. That’s number one. Number two is just starting to see the team come together, which is what you imagine it would after training camp. Training camp survival kind of breaks down all barriers. Once you get to the season, your legs start coming back, you start getting … it’s not just survival, it’s let’s develop a team. I was hoping that would happen, and we’ll know more Saturday, but it is starting to happen.”

On if he likes his team yet: “Yeah, of course I like this team. Anybody that’s gone through what they’ve gone through here the last month. I admire them, and I like them. I admire what they’ve done.”

On Demps returning kickoffs possibly running him down: “Yes, I am, we’re very cautious. Hopefully we don’t return many kicks. The second thing, in practice, I’m very cautious because he only knows one speed. Part of his rundown isn’t in the game, it’s the darn practices because he just goes 40 yards every time he touches it at warp speed. We’ve really backed down on him in certain practice things – non-essential running – we’ve really backed off on him and he feels the best he’s ever felt going into a game. Today and tomorrow are critical for that because that’s usually when a lot of skill guys get rundown just running and running. … That’s probably number one or number two on our list – to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

On players who will become household names: “I think Trey Burton is one people [will know] – he’s a newcomer. Matt Elam’s going to get significant playing time. Jelani Jenkins and Bostic – those are two names that aren’t exactly household names and they’ve really performed well here in the last week. And they’re great kids. I don’t mean to leave anybody out, [but] those are four names off the top of my head.”

On making sure he has a clear-cut quarterback: “Every coach wants that. Our first year at Utah we did not have that luxury. Bowling Green and Utah we did not have that. At Florida we came in and had a clear cut guy Chris Leak and then Tim [Tebow] and Johnny, so we’re very fortunate. Our concern is who’s the guy right behind him. You’re trying to dual-teach Trey Burton at some positions, you’ve got a true freshman Tyler Murphy who’s not very experienced at quarterback – he’s a great kid with a lot of talent. And then you’ve got the ace in the whole [who’s] probably not going to play because of injury, we’re still going to find out more this week, is Jordan Reed. So that’s our dilemma – not so much who the guy is – that’s a bad day when you don’t know who your guy is. We had a couple bad days early at Bowling Green and Utah.”

On recruiting back-up and future quarterbacks: “I think one of the great success stories in college football is the kid at LSU, [Matt] Flynn I think his name was, who won the National Championship. You talk about admiration. Johnny Brantley has been like that. Johnny Brantley went through the whole gamut of being a local guy that everybody said, ‘Well, go here. You can start here. You can start here.’ That says a lot about personal – the kid’s family, how he’s raised. It also says a lot about that young man. Think about that guy at LSU – sits around, sits around and then goes and wins a National Championship. That is harder to find guys like that nowadays just because of the magnitude of what’s happening.”

On Rainey’s impact on offense this year: “It’s his year. He’s gonna perform. He’s ready for it. He’s up to almost 180 – 178 he told me yesterday. He’s stronger than he’s ever been. He’s now focused on a position that really his body is more trained to be. And he has to give us the home run shot, and he’s got the ability. There’s really not an offense who can function without a home run hitter. And he’s either one or two on our list of guys that can take it to the distance.”

Photo Credit: Butch Dill/Associated Press

4 Comments

  1. npgator says:

    Sounds like both the coaches and players think that Rainey is going to bust loose this year. We definitely missed that position last year and if you watch games from 2008 versus 2009 you can see how effetive we were with the slot postion.

  2. Mr2Bits says:

    …… “hopefully we don’t return many kicks”

    Love this quote, get it Urbes. Love how he is looking to only have 1 kickoff per game.

  3. Rich says:

    Thanks Adam, great stuff as always. Go Gators.

  4. Gatorbuc15 says:

    I love Demps! That man has DEMON like speed!

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