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 the event along with thoughts from defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and co-defensive coordinator Chuck Heater, both of whom also spoke with the media.
REFUSAL TO THROW PEOPLE UNDER THE BUS IN PUBLIC
The comments sections here on OGGOA have been running wild with readers questioning why Meyer is so supportive of his players and coaches and refuses to discuss their shortcomings with the media. As we opined over the last few days, Meyer said he refuses to drag those on the team through the mud in the public eye, even though they are being held accountable and will be dealt with at the proper time. “I’ve done this for a long time,” he said. “05 was probably the last time I remember that there was a lot of that kind of discussion. Discussion I’m usually not a part of because my obligation is to these football players and to this football team and the staff. All we’re trying to do is win the next game. Obviously there will be accountability because that’s our profession, that’s what we do. To make it public and throw players under the bus or coaches under the bus, that’s not part of our plan.”
DEMPS’ INJURY HAS BEEN DEVASTATING TO PLAYER, TEAM
It was obvious when junior running back Jeff Demps was reported to be injured with a “sprained foot” that Florida would be losing its biggest playmaker for at least a short period of time. But while coaches hoped and gave positive signs that he would be able to return, it is looking more and more like Demps will remain out of action – especially considering he has barely played since the third week of the season.
“He’s got a stress reaction in his foot. He doesn’t practice. It’s just very frustrating,” Meyer said. “Jeff’s a competitor and obviously one of the most talented guys in the country and a guy we need. It’s been hard. He has not been near 100 percent really since the Tennessee game. That was our No. 1 playmaker going into the season. It’s been devastating on all fronts. Any offense you see across the country, take their No. 1 playmaker out of the offense and the blow is going to be severe – especially if you’re not as strong in some areas.”
HEAPING PRAISE ON THE SENIOR SAFETY
With Senior Day on Saturday, Heater and Austin took some time out to discuss senior safety Ahmad Black, how talented he is and how far he has come since joining the program four years ago. Heater, with whom Black has a close personal relationship, was able to speak about him in a more broad sense.
“Anybody who watches football can appreciate the quality player that he is now,” he said. “He came in as a freshman, got hurt early. He was one of those tag-a-long guys out of Lakeland. Too small, too this, too that. The reality is he was really a tremendous player once he had the opportunity to go show it. We’re proud of him, and it’s amazing what he’s accomplished.
“He has always been a great kid. Happy with a smile on his face. He’s grown, he’s matured. He takes care of his business a little bit better than he used to when he was younger. Very accountable guy, which is what you hope happens by the time a guy leaves out of here. You hope he’s learned how to grow and be an accountable guy, and he has been.”
One of the reasons Black will be so successful at the next level is his tackling; in fact, even as a safety, he leads the defense in tackles this season. “I had a pro scout tell me that [he is the best tackler in college football] today,” Heater said. “He’s got a gift for it. He’s an athletic guy. He’s really athletic. […] First off, he’s tough. If a guy doesn’t want to make a tackle, all that other stuff doesn’t really matter. Some guys don’t want to make a tackle. He’s a tough guy. Then it becomes just that ability to weave himself through people and around people and make plays the way he does. He’s extraordinary.”
Austin agrees about Black’s tackling abilities. “Outstanding. One of the best I’ve seen. Outstanding. One of the best. Period. Outstanding,” he said. “He’s a good open field tackler, and when he squares you up, he will hit you. He’s stumped guys. He’s good, he’s really good.”
As for how he will do at the next level? “He looks like a player. He’s not going to pass all the height, weight, speed little contests. But when you put on the film, boy he is a football player,” said Austin, a NFL defensive backs coach for seven years. “It only takes one team to like you, that’s all it takes. And somebody will like him; he’s too good not to like. When you put on the game tape, I’d be hard pressed to find a better safety.”
QUOTES (After the break…)
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