11/2: Addazio, McCarney, players discuss Georgia

Florida Gators offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio, assistant head coach, defense/defensive line Dan McCarney, junior safety Will Hill, redshirt senior guard Carl Johnson and redshirt freshman G Jon Halapio spoke to the media Tuesday as the team took a final look back on its win against the Georgia Bulldogs and ahead to its road game against the Vanderbilt Commodores.

SPEEDY BACKFIELD CREATES HOME RUN THREATS

As head coach Urban Meyer has mentioned repeatedly over the last few weeks, one of the reasons for Florida’s inefficient offense during its three-straight losses was a lack of the home run plays. Addazio believes that element has officially returned now that junior running back Jeff Demps and redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey are back playing. “The ability to have Demps and Rainey together back there, the ability to create a lot of speed back in that backfield again, gives you those opportunities for home run balls. [Options and dives] can be home run strikes now, they’re not just necessarily four-or-five-yard strikes.”

GEORGIA GASSED BY NO-HUDDLE OFFENSE

A common theme the players have expressed since the Georgia game ended on Saturday was how winded and unprepared the Bulldogs were for Florida’s enhanced no-huddle offense. “The no-huddle was actually harder in practice than it was in the game,” Johnson said. “It was fairly easy because Georgia was so tired. They weren’t even getting in their stance half the time because they were so tired. It wasn’t that bad. I thought it would be a lot, lot worse, but they make it so much harder in practice. We don’t have the 40-second clock rule in practice. The coaches are like, ‘Get on the ball, run another play!’”

Halapio shared similar sentiments. “I felt sorry for them boys because we practiced that bonazi stuff, that no-huddle stuff for two weeks. We were in shape. We had no mercy against them,” he said. “They were breathing and they couldn’t even get set. They were all walking around. They couldn’t even do trash talk or nothing. They couldn’t even talk to each other they were so gassed out.”

HILL EVALUATES HIS PERFORMANCES THIS SEASON

No matter what the coaches said about how he played, Hill knew he was better than the performance he was giving on the field throughout the season. After missing UF’s first two contests, Hill regained his starting job against Tennessee and has been performing admirably but with plenty of mistakes since. Though he suffered another miscue on Saturday, he hopes that he has now turned a corner.

“I played decent [early in the season]. I didn’t play like a top guy. I was just playing as a regular guy,” Hill said Tuesday. “I know what the coaches expect and I know what the team expects and I wasn’t up to those expectations. I was just average. [Saturday] was a big game for me. To be able to step up and help the team, I’ve been thinking about a lot of stuff like how can I help the team, how can I better myself, how can I better the team? By me performing the way I did, it just showed a lot of improvement.”

FIVE-STAR FRESHMEN DEFENDERS COMING INTO OWN

McCarney raved Tuesday about the progress of freshman defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and defensive end (currently outside linebacker) Ronald Powell. He said Floyd is “the most improved freshmen that I’ve got on the defensive line right now,” adding that injuries have “given Sharrif more of an opportunity and he’s really gaining confidence, improving. I think he’s one of the most improved players on our defense right now.” As for Powell, his improvement has come from a variety of directions. “He’s playing lower. He’s playing with better fundamentals. He’s playing with better technique. He’s understanding the game. He’s understanding the game plan. He’s understanding schemes, what people are trying to do to him,” McCarney said. “He’s really improved a lot – immensely. He’s one of the most talented, most mature freshmen I’ve ever been around [and] I’ve been doing this a lot of years.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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11/1: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Think Saturday’s win meant something to Meyer?

Head coach Urban Meyer and a small group of players meet with the media each Monday before the Florida Gators compete in a game the following Saturday. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

CHAMPIONS AND AWARDS

After three consecutive losses and an overall lack of things to celebrate post-game, a tough win allowed Meyer to announce that 17 Gators had earned the designation of Champions after Saturday’s win over the Georgia Bulldogs.

Offensively, Meyer named redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey, freshman quarterback Trey Burton and redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. as his most valuable players along with senior center Mike Pouncey, redshirt junior QB John Brantley, redshirt senior guard Carl Johnson, redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson, redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed, redshirt senior tackle Marcus Gilbert, redshirt freshman guard Jon Halapio and redshirt junior fullback Steven Wilks as his champions. On the defensive side of the ball, junior safety Will Hill won the MVP award, while senior safety Ahmad Black, junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins, redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins, and senior defensive ends Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens were champions.

The Southeastern Conference honored senior punter/kicker Chas Henry with its Co-Special Teams Player of the Week award and Burton with its Tri-Freshman of the Week award on Monday. Henry was 2-of-3 on his field goal attempts including a 37-yard game winner, and Burton rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown.

IMPROVEMENT IN FOUR DEFICIENT AREAS

One week ago, Meyer mentioned four particular areas in which Florida was struggling on offense and needed to drastically improve on in order to turn around the season. Here is how the Gators fared in those four areas against the Bulldogs:

1. Turnovers – 4-to-1 ratio with Brantley’s interception coming when sophomore WR Omarius Hines quit running a route.
2. Big plays – Florida had five against Georgia after none in the previous five games combined – a big turnaround.
3. Pass efficiency – UF’s quarterbacks were 30 points more efficient (120) than average.
4. Red zone efficiency – The Gators converted 5-of-6 red zone opportunities with a miscue coming on a missed field goal by Henry on the first offensive drive of the game.

OFFENSE REBOUNDS, DEFENSE CONTINUES TO STRUGGLE

While the offense spent two weeks of practice being retooled and streamlined, the defense’s goal during the bye week was figuring out how to get off the field on third down. Mississippi State ran the ball down Florida’s throats in its upset victory two weeks ago, and Georgia accomplished a similar feat through the air. Meyer was blunt when speaking about what had to be improved on that side of the ball.

“We’re not playing great defense. It’s just the way it is. We’re not and we have to improve,” he said. “Does that mean we didn’t have some great efforts? We certainly created turnovers and short fields, which our defense has done a decent job of all year. Back to compartmentalize – it’s third downs and red zone. We were 3-of-3 [in red zone scores] we gave up and third downs are not good.”

Asked if he will reevaluate the defense the same as he did the offense, Meyer responded: “I just don’t have time. I’ve never done that. These are the issues, get them cleaned up immediately. We have very good coaches. We just got to clean up a few things because at times we play outstanding defense. It’s getting off the field that has been a situation for us.”

GAME BALL TO MR. ANDREU

To begin his press conference, Meyer handed a game ball to long-time Gainesville Sun writer Robbie Andreu, whose father passed away in October. Today, Nov. 1, also happens to have been his father’s birthday. Best wishes from OGGOA.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Week 9: Gators post-game news and notes

Snapping a three-game losing streak, the Florida Gators (5-3, 3-3 SEC) snuck a 34-31 overtime win by the Georgia Bulldogs (4-5, 3-4 SEC) at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, FL, at EverBank Field. With so much to discuss, OGGOA presents some important notes and quotes following the contest.

OH HENRY!

By now everybody knows what happened Saturday – after missing his initial field goal attempt wide left in the first quarter, Florida senior punter Chas Henry nailed two in a row including a 37-yarder in overtime to ice the game. However, what is not known is how much that one kick meant to Henry. “It was the best feeling I’ve ever had,” he said. “The main thing that went through my mind was how I let my team down two weeks ago against Mississippi State. That was one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through. I got so much support through the coaches, my family and friends, and my brothers in the locker room. The internal family we have is as strong as you can get. I let them down one time. I was never going to let it happen again. It felt great. Unbelievable.”

Henry’s field goal was so emotional that it caused head coach Urban Meyer to immediately drop to his knees according to those on the scene. Why exactly did he do that? “After he hit that field goal? It was Chas Henry hitting a damn field goal. Think about that for a minute. That’s not easy,” Meyer said. I didn’t realize I did that. It was a good moment.”

Meyer gave Henry three opportunities to kick field goals Saturday because he had confidence in the young man after seeing how he played in practice on Thursday. “He’s got a strong leg; he just has not majored in that,” he said. “We thought we were going to have Caleb [Sturgis]. Caleb came out Wednesday and kicked beautifully. Then his back, he could’ve pushed it but we’re not going to do that – it could hurt him for a long time if he hurts it more. On Thursday, Chas came out and hit every field goal. We always go right-left, right-left, right-left, right-left, and he went right up to 42 yards, I think he was seven-for-seven.”

THRICE IS NICE FOR WILL THE THRILL

Though only two of his three interceptions will count when looking at the box score 10 years from now, senior safety Will Hill’s performance will be remembered for some time. Following in the footsteps of some of the Gators’ other terrifying free safeties, Hill came through when it counted by saving a two-point conversion and starting Florida’s celebration early with an 89-yard interception return (that did not go for a score) in overtime. He had been struggling all season and even failed in protection on an early Georgia touchdown, but Hill got some of his mojo back by the time the whistle sounded.

“[Ahmad] Black had good coverage on A.J. [Green],’’ Hill said of the overtime interception. “He tipped the ball and it just fell in my lap. I just saw an opportunity and made the best of it. I was struggling earlier in the season and coaches never gave up on me, teammates never gave up on me. And for me to come out and playing like this, it’s just like paying the team back.’’

“Big play of the day,” Meyer said of Hill’s overtime pick. “And from what [defensive coordinator] Teryl Austin mentioned in [the locker room], he said it was Will Hill’s best game. We’ve been waiting for that all year. Will Hill played very well tonight.” Austin had his thoughts as well. “You saw it today. He played. He played like a Florida safety plays,” he asid. “He made some wonderful plays out there today. He was physical, he hit guys, he intercepted the ball, he did a great job for us today. Really proud of him.”

FLORIDA FINDS A LONG-LOST “EDGE”

Aside from injuries and execution, one of the main reasons the Gators’ offense has been so vanilla this year is because the team found it difficult to find an edge. Meyer believes Florida found exactly that over the last two weeks and wishes he would have identified it and installed it earlier this year. “I could kick myself for not doing that more this summer,” Meyer said of using a steady two quarterback rotation. “I did not anticipate…Trey Burton’s one of those guys, I didn’t know he was that good as a runner. I thought he was pretty good and then he was dynamic. Jordan Reed did a nice job, came in and gave us some two-plus yardage plays. We’re going to do more of that. We have to find that edge. Florida’s always had the edge.

“In ’05 we really didn’t really have one, and then ’06 we had some edge when we recruited Percy [Harvin] and then Dallas [Baker] came on. Then obviously Tim [Tebow] went crazy in ’07, ’08 you had a bundle of them – there’s edges all over the place. […] We’re just still trying to find what that edge is. You can’t play offensive football without it. You can sit and run between the tackles, you can run perimeter plays or you can throw, and if you don’t have that edge than it’s just a mess. And that’s kind of where we’ve been. We’re looking at tempo as an edge, multiple quarterbacks as an edge and development of players. You want to get that speed back with [Chris] Rainey and [Jeff] Demps, that helps us a lot as well.”

RAINEY’s REDEMPTION

Ask any of his teammates or the player himself, and it is obvious Rainey has had a tough few weeks after being suspended indefinitely following his arrest. In addition to being scolded by the coaching staff, administration and the media, Rainey has been hard on himself and made a concerted effort to turn his life around. Saturday’s game was the first he had played in more than a month, and Rainey made the most of it going off for 241 all-purpose yards including 84 rushing yards.

“Rainey stood up after the game and thanked God for giving him a second chance. He’s taking full advantage of it,” said senior center Mike Pouncey, one of Rainey’s best friends. “He thanked the whole administration – [athletic director] Jeremy Foley and the president [Bernie Machen] – and he thanked God as well. He thanked everyone for giving him a second chance because without Jeremy Foley and President Machen, it wouldn’t be possible for him to play right now. I love Chris like a brother. [...] He’s been living with me since high school, and we have a special relationship. I felt his pain those weeks he was out. He loves football. He’s a great person, and I know that was one of the happiest moments of his life just to be out there with us playing.”

Meyer attributes Rainey’s presence to many of the other big plays made during the game. “The threat of a perimeter issue opens up – the Trey Burton touchdown, that was a lot of the Tim stuff we used to do when you had Percy,” he said. “If you have a threat of this [holds arms out], it sometimes opens that [em>points arms to middle] up. That’s the mix of perimeter and interior rushing. That’s a direct result of having a perimeter.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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10/11: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Updated 11:45 p.m. (ET)

Head coach Urban Meyer and a small group of players meet with the media each Monday after the Florida Gators participate in a game the previous Saturday. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

INJURIES CONTINUE TO MOUNT

Just as Florida was lucky enough to a number of its starters back healthy another rash of injuries has hit the team. In addition to junior running back Jeff Demps missing Saturday’s game with a sprained foot, sophomore RB Mike Gillislee appeared to hurt his ankle, redshirt freshman guard Jon Halapio broke a finger, and both redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson and freshman safety Matt Elam suffered concussions. Halapio had surgery on Sunday and will miss Saturday’s Mississippi State game, but Demps, Gillislee, Thompson and Elam are all expected to be able to play.

Speaking of injuries, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley expressed for a second time in three days that his ribs are neither broken nor fractured nor cracked and that his thumb is just sprained. This counters rumors and a report from ESPN‘s Joe Schad that claimed Brantley was more injured than he and Meyer were letting on. Meyer did indicate that Brantley had some shoulder issues during the week because he was overcompensating for his injured ribs; however, he was fine to go on Saturday and will be starting once again this week.

HOME RUNS AND RED ZONE ISSUES TO BLAME

Meyer noted that the two biggest issues facing the Gators offense are the lack of home run plays and inefficiency in the red zone, not play calling. Those two factors, combined with unforced errors in the form of turnovers and penalties, were what limited Florida the most on Saturday.

ADDAZIO FULLY SUPPORTED

Though fans have been getting on offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio for his play calling, he received plenty of praise and support from his head coach and players on Monday. Meyer said Addazio has “a tough job, obviously I think he can handle it” while redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley said, “I trust coach Addazio and his play calling.” Senior center Mike Pouncey added that the team is “moving the ball, just ain’t making the plays when they’re there to be made” and that Addazio does not deserve the blame whatsoever.

The dive play was booed extensively during Florida almost-game-winning scoring drive at the end of the fourth quarter, something that confused Pouncey and redshirt senior wide receiver Carl Moore (and likely many others, too), both of whom said it did not bother them. Pouncey specifically noted that the Gators were “going down to win the game” on that drive, making the boos quite ridiculous.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Tigers inch past Gators, UF drops second straight

The Swamp was rocking Saturday night, orange jerseys were worn for the first time since 1989 and redemption was on their minds, but the No. 12/14 Florida Gators (4-2, 2-2 SEC) failed to stop the No. 9/12 LSU Tigers (6-0, 4-0 SEC) on their final possession. Through a fake field goal and 62-yard game-winning drive, LSU defeated Florida 33-29 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Tigers quarterback Jarrett Lee threw a three-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Terrence Toliver with six seconds left in the game for the win. The opportunity presented itself after LSU successfully converted a fake field goal attempt on 4th and 3 from Florida’s 36 yard line with 35 seconds remaining. They advanced to the Gators’ three after Tolliver caught a short pass and turned it into a 28-yard gain.

Both teams started slow in the first quarter with LSU striking first on a 45-yard field goal from kicker Josh Jasper. Florida redshirt junior defensive tackle Jaye Howard pushed LSU back a bit on its opening drive with a big tackle for loss on first down before the score. On the ensuing possession, Gators freshman WR Andre Debose mishandled a kickoff, putting the offense in a hole. Redshirt junior QB John Brantley was nearly sacked in the end zone but two LSU penalties gave Florida some breathing room.

Punting the ball after stalling on their own 42, the Gators would get it back quickly as redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins intercepted Tigers QB Jordan Jefferson, returning it 47 yards to the LSU 17. Five plays later, redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed rushed for a one-yard touchdown, giving UF a 7-3 lead to start the second quarter.

Louisiana State would answer right away, utilizing big rushes by running backs Stevan Ridley and Michael Ford to complete a 13-play, 77-yard drive that resulted in a one-yard touchdown run by Jefferson.

Florida’s offensive line struggled to protect Brantley on the next series (as well as most of the game), forcing them to punt once again. Luckily for the Gators, Patrick Peterson muffed the punt while receiving pressure from Florida cornerback Cody Riggs; it was recovered by safety Ahmad Black and gave UF its second turn in the red zone as the result of a turnover. The Gators capitalized with a rushing touchdown from freshman QB Trey Burton to go back up 14-10.

After a defensive stand, Florida junior CB Janoris Jenkins returned a punt nearly to midfield that was called back to the Gators’ five after concurrent block in the back and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties (Jenkins spiked the ball upon getting up). Stuck near the goal line, Brantley was nearly sacked in the end zone again as the offensive line continued to be overwhelmed by the Tigers.

LSU would end the first half strong, scoring on a short field via a 38-yard pass to Tolliver and capitalizing on a fumble by Florida redshirt senior RB Emmanuel Moody by kicking a 39-yard field goal to go into the locker rooms with a 20-14 lead.

The Gators started the second half with gusto, putting together a 15-play, 70-yard drive in which Burton accounted for 30 yards. However, two missed field goals by senior punter/kicker Chas Henry (the first was negated by a holding penalty) left Florida without a single point. On UF’s next possession, Brantley had a pass deflected at the line that was intercepted inside the 40. The Tigers capitalized with Jefferson rushing for his second touchdown of the game just eight plays later.

Down 12 things looked bleak for Florida, but Debose answered quickly for the Gators with an electric 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Four possessions later, Brantley hit redshirt senior WR Carl Moore for a huge 51-yard gain to get Florida inside LSU’s 30. Sophomore WR Omarius Hines ran a reverse into the end zone, but a block in the back by sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. negated the score. However, the Gators kept the pressure on and scored two plays later on a rushing touchdown by sophomore RB Mike Gillislee to complete the 10-play, 80-yard drive. Hammond would catch a two-point conversion attempt from Brantley to give Florida a 29-26 lead with 3:21 remaining on the clock.

Up three points all the Gators hoped for on the next drive was a defensive stop, but the Tigers resisted by getting over a big defensive play on 3rd and 1 from Florida’s 34 with the fake field goal and subsequent touchdown pass to Tolliver.

LSU accounted for 385 yards of total offense in the game with 111 coming from Tolliver, 88 from Ridley, 150 combined from Jefferson and 124 on 9-of-11 passing from Lee. Moore led the way for Florida’s offense with 95 yards on four receptions. Burton gained 35 yards on the ground and Brantley completed 16-of-24 passes for 154 yards as UF totaled 243 yards. The Tigers also outgained the Gators in first downs (20-9), rushing (161-89), passing (224-154), time of possession (34:08-25:52) and sacks (3-1).

Florida hopes to rebound from back-to-back losses for the first time since 2007 next week as they face Mississippi State on Saturday during homecoming in Gainesville, FL. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., and the game will air live on ESPNU.

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

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10/7: Florida Gators week six practice notes

No. 12/14 Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer met with the media after practice on Thursday and divulged a few important notes about the team’s sixth game of the 2010-11 season on Saturday against the No. 9/12 LSU Tigers. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details which you can check out below.

BRANTLEY WAS LIMITED BUT IS “FINE NOW”

Early in the week rumors surfaced that redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley was questionable for Saturday’s game against LSU after injuring his ribs against Alabama. Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio shot down those reports Tuesday, saying Brantley was “doing great” though he was “a little sore…just like every game.” Meyer expanded on Brantley’s limitations Thursday, noting that he was actually unable to throw the ball for a part of the week. “On the injury front, Brantley’s good,” he said. “He was limited mostly, well, throwing. So we would have another guy go in and throw the ball for him a little bit [because] his ribs were so sore, but he’s fine now.” Meyer insisted that Brantley will be ready to go Saturday without limitations.

TIME HAS COME FOR PLAYMAKERS, EXTRA PROTECTION

Asked whether or not it was time for the coaching staff to push guys like redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose and freshman running back Mack Brown onto the field for increased playing time and touches, Meyer smiled and appeared to provide a genuine response. “Uh-huh. It’s that time. It’s been that time for a while,” he said nodding emphatically. “[Debose is] getting better. He’s getting better.”

And while those playmakers may see the field a bit more, Meyer also received word that he would be getting back one of his favorite offensive players, redshirt junior fullback Steven Wilks. Finally recovered from a back injury, Wilks has been cleared to play and will be in action on Saturday. “That’s good news for us that he came back and had a great week of practice,” Meyer boasted. “Great attitude. He’s a good player. He’s like Billy Latsko, he’s just one of those football position guys. Very smooth player. He’s not a home run hitter or anything like that but he’s a guy that gets in your way and blocks you and knows the offense real well.”

OTHER INJURY UPDATES

Though junior RB Jeff Demps “still is limited,” according to Meyer, he is expected to “be at the same tempo he was last week against Alabama” for Saturday’s contest. While the news seems positive for him and sophomore RB Mike Gillislee, the same cannot be said for some other Gators.

Redshirt senior defensive tackle Brandon Antwine will remain out of action, freshman WR Chris Dunkley’s hamstring is “acting up, so he’s not going to be ready either for a couple more weeks,” and freshman WR Quinton Dunbar recently tweaked his hamstring in practice as well. When speaking about the injuries, Meyer noted that Dunbar “was getting better” and called Dunkley “my man.”

Also remaining on the sidelines is junior kicker Caleb Sturgis, who has been replaced by senior punter Chas Henry. “Caleb’s getting better. He won’t kick Saturday,” Meyer said. “I kind of like what our man did, Chas. Caleb’s getting better and he’s feeling better. I’m not sure the timetable because it’s actually is a stress fracture.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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9/23: Florda Gators week four practice notes

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer met with the media after practice on Thursday and divulged a few important notes about the team’s fourth game Saturday against the Kentucky Wildcats. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

DEBOSE GROWS

With Florida’s offense putting forth less than stellar performances over the first three games of the season, one of the most heavily discussed topics by fans and the media has been the development of redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose. Though he did not play in the team’s opener against Miami (OH), Debose did see limited time against South Florida and Tennessee but has yet to record a reception on the season. That is a fact that might change this week.

“Andre Debose has had a great week of practice,” Meyer said Thursday, noting he had a “really good practice” on Wednesday. “[He hadn't been practicing well] not because he’s not trying, just [because of] the complication of the offense. Really good day yesterday. That was really encouraging. But that was normal growth. Everybody wants them to be something they’re not. He didn’t play a snap last year.”

Meyer also noted that he is developing at a normal pace, citing that the limited time he has been able to practice at full speed is what hindered him the most. Debose completely tore his hamstring off the bone last season and, while he has been perfectly healthy this year, did miss a lot while being out of commission.

TIGHT ENDS DEVELOPING

The Gators have been using six offensive linemen at times this season instead of putting a tight end in the game; this was most notable last week against Tennessee when sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon played one more spot out wide. The reason for this? Florida has a very young group of players at the position with Meyer’s preferable starter still coming along from a training camp injury.

Jordan Reed’s getting close to full speed. A guy named Gerald Christian is getting a little better,” Meyer said. “At the end of the day, you gotta block SEC defensive ends to play tight end at Florida. We’re getting better. We need that position. If you put an offensive lineman there, there’s no threat of pass.”

QUOTES

On the offense’s execution this week: “The pitch-and-catch has been much better. The receivers are starting to get healthy and their legs back. I think they were blown out a little bit during training camp. We’re getting a little bit of depth. You’re seeing Stephen Alli, you’re seeing Andre Debose starting to get going.”

On who shined this week: “Our receivers had their best day Wednesday, which is real encouraging.”

On redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey’s status: “He’s not part of the team. That’s all I got to say. […] Nowhere near the team. […] I’m not even thinking about that. I’m letting everything will be handled and at some point we’ll have to address it and that point’s not now.”

On freshman quarterback Trey Burton switching numbers (from 13 to 8): “Switching numbers? Is that right? I have no idea, I’m not the numbers coach. I delegated that.”

On offense starting slow each September: “When’s that? Every year? September won-loss record is OK though.”

On redshirt sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan‘s health: “I love Patchan’s intensity, emotion – we need him in the lineup. [..] He’s doing all condition and he’s still two [games] away.”

On eventually winning 200 games: “I hope we can tackle Randall Cobb, man.”

On coaching until Bobby Bowden’s age: “I don’t think I can do that.”

On not scoring a point in the first quarter yet: “A lot of urgency to get that corrected. Because we certainly have the scheming and players to do it.”

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9/22: Florida coach Meyer’s SEC teleconference

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:

» Asked about what has changed in regards to the Kentucky Wildcats since he took over coaching Florida in 2005, Meyer said that the program has significantly improved personnel-wise and has been recruiting well over the last few years. He said he is impressed with where they are from a talent perspective and thinks they are one of the best teams in the SEC in that regard.

» Why hasn’t redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose seen the field much this season? According to Meyer, Debose’s learning curve is not progressing as quickly as others at his position. The coaching staff is trying to feed him as much of the playbook as possible, but it appears the retention and execution may not at the level to which they are comfortable with him on the field on a consistent basis. “It’s just a learning curve,” he said. “We’re force feeding at him as much as we can as fast as we can. It’s gotta happen pretty quick.”

» With sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon returning as a starter against Tennessee, Meyer said the offensive line is finally showing more consistency during practice. He also noted that redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed is in the process of learning his position and is improving week-to-week. Additionally, he said one reason the Gators have not shown more versatility up front is because the team needs to “sure up” the TE position.

» Injuries: Redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody missed practice once again Tuesday while recovering from a deep thigh bruise; Meyer hopes to get him on the field Wednesday. Reed has strep throat and will miss at least one day of practice.

» If Florida wins Saturday against Kentucky, it will be Meyer’s 100th victory as a head coach. Asked about the significant wins during his career, Meyer said he does not concentrate on the victories but rather the players who have helped him achieve those milestones. Though he did briefly mention the 2006 game against South Carolina as a stand-out moment, Meyer specifically pointed out former cornerback Vernell Brown and the impact he had on helping turn around the entire Gators program.

QUOTES

Opening statement: “I’m very pleased with the outcome of last week’s game. Obviously we gotta clear some things up. One thing about Kentucky the last few years they’ve had a cycle when those kids get early, those talented, talented players. I think Cobb’s one of the best players in the SEC.”

On Kentucky improving over the past few years: “I look at personnel, and I just think personnel-wise from 2005 to where they are now, they’re an upper echelon SEC team.”

On players looking ahead to Alabama: “Oh no. No, no. Not here. […] There is absolutely none of that right now.”

On first quarter struggles: “We try to build on the positives and fix the negatives. How do you fix the negatives? We’re going to really make an emphasis on coming out of the gate fast. How do you do that? Execute.”

On some of his memorable wins: “I’m more into the people than the wins. I remember so many of the great efforts and have been blessed to have so many great players. There’s the obvious ones, the South Carolina one when we blocked the field goal. But I’m more into some of these great young players we’ve had. For example, Vernell Brown wants to bring his son to the game this weekend. He was really the pioneer of our program. He was a guy who was really unheard of, came in and was the most loyal, dedicated guy that helped us turn the corner. Those are the things I remember more than plays, it’s the players and when they come back and see what they’ve built. I really admire those guys.”

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