Meyer Focused on the Offense

Florida head coach Urban Meyer is focused on the lack of offensive production. The Gators put up 317 yards on their way to a 31-17 victory at Tennessee over the weekend, but there is improvement necessary. A road win to open conference play is nothing the staff is taking for granted, but they know the offense must improve.

"I've seen us win some games and do some good things, but I have not seen enough to say we're right on that edge," Urban Meyer said Monday morning. "Hopefully after Tuesday or Wednesday's practice I will say that."

It's not all bad for the offense. John Brantley won in his first start away from Gainesville. The production from the wide receivers struggled to open the season, but Carl Moore and Deonte Thompson have made plays in recent weeks.

"I have seen some receivers step up and make some plays," Meyer said. "I've seen Johnny Brantley go into 100,000 people and control the game. I was very concerned about that because we've seen enough new starters come into our stadium and look like new starters."

DEFENSIVE ADJUSTMENT: Facing the leading rusher in the SEC before the weekend, the Florida defense knew they could only win if they stuffed the run. Tennessee running back Tauren Poole ended the day with only 27 rushing yards after coming into the game after 136.

The key adjustment came on the defensive line. The Gators added an extra defensive tackle while going to a five-man front.

"We played a big unit," Meyer said. "We're going to work on that quite a bit to get 300 pounds all the way across the defensive line. We were very successful in that area."

The staff didn't want to have Duke Lemmens playing against offensive linemen that outweighed him. They decided to use his motor as a standup rusher, even playing some outside linebacker in sets.

"We want Duke Lemmens on the field," Meyer said. "He's high energy and brings passion that every coach wants. Is he big enough to play five-technique against Tennessee and other teams we'll face? No. So we get a big technique in there with Jaye Howard, plus we have a little bit of depth inside."

The defensive line stuffed the run and Meyer said the linebackers played their best game of the season. The secondary was another issue. Two blown coverages allowed wide open touchdowns to keep Tennessee in the game.

"The only concern is we turned guys loose in coverage," Meyer said. Those all can be corrected."

INJURY UPDATE: Guard James Wilson had a knee scope and will miss Saturday's game against Kentucky. Meyer said he could be back next weekend at Alabama, but if not then, he will return October 9 against LSU.

Offensive tackle Matt Patchan is "coming along real well," and Meyer said they are hoping to have him back in the next couple weeks. Fullback Steve Wilks is also expected back in a few weeks.

Meyer said guard Carl Johnson is "fine."

CHAMPIONS: Marcus Gilbert, Brantley, Maurice Hurt and Mike Pouncey graded out as champions. Wide receiver Carl Moore was the offensive player of the game, with a large part of the honor coming because of his perimeter blocking.

On defense, Justin Trattou, Jelani Jenkins, Brandon Hicks and Jon Bostic graded out as champions. Lemmens was named the defensive player of the week.

ANALYZING BRANTLEY: Meyer is still hoping for an increased threat in the pass game, as Brantley hasn't exceeded the 200-yard mark in a game yet. Meyer did point out that he converted five third-and-longs on Saturday.

"There's one way that we evaluate quarterbacks here, and it's that he is 3-0 as a starter," Meyer said. "I am not to say we're through with where we are offensively, and he's the focal point of the offense."

KENTUCKY OFFENSIVE WEAPONS: The Wildcats come to town this weekend with a veteran group of playmakers. Utility man Randall Cobb can line up at multiple positions on the field, and running back Derrick Locke took over the title of the leading rusher in the SEC when Florida stuffed Tennessee's Poole.

"Kentucky goes through those cycles where they have a senior outfit on offense with playmakers. They have it this year. I think Cobb is a great punt returner. He's dynamic."

Cobb returns punts for the Wildcats, as well as taking snaps at quarterback and wide receiver. The Kentucky coaches draw up plays to get the ball in his hands however they can.

"I just like the way he looks," Meyer said. "I like classy people. I think he's a dynamic player that is going to play at the next level, and I can't wait for him to get the heck out of this league."

Cobb is the kind of player the Florida offense wants to use. In fact, Meyer was disappointed that they didn't give him an offer out of high school.

"I'm trying to find out whose recruiting area that was," Meyer said. "I'd fire them if they were still here, but they're probably gone."

YOUNG PLAYERS SUCCEED: With 41% of the travel roster true freshmen or redshirt freshmen, there are plenty of young players standing out to choose as the one playing best.

Meyer singled out Bostic and Jenkins for their play as linebackers that anchored the defense Saturday. He also said Ronald Powell is "starting to make some huge strides."

Cody Riggs made his impact known on special teams, and downing a punt at the one-yard line Saturday further engrained him as a key player. However, there's a new name Meyer wants to get on the field.

"A guy named Darrin Kitchens, you're going to start hearing about him more," Meyer said of his freshman linebacker. "I use the word "bought in," which means you'll go real hard and you'll play or you'll sit and watch like thousands of other people. He has bought in."

PASS PROTECTION EXCELS: Brantley has only been sacked twice all season. The Florida offensive line is playing at an elite level, but there is a reason Brantley has so much time to throw. The Gators will soon change it.

"We're cautious of that," Meyer said. "We aren't doing that five-man protection. We're mostly in a six-man. We need to start getting into that five-man. Our efficiency in passing isn't real high right now, but I understand why. It's sort of like when we got Chris Leak, he just settled things down a little bit and made some plays."

SPECIAL TEAMS SUCCESS: Terron Sanders and Jon Bostic threw key blocks on the fake punt Saturday, but it was Omar Hunter that opened up holes.

"If Omarius would've followed (Hunter), we would've scored," Meyer said.

The play came from a formation the Gators put in long ago. It's a simple read to see if they have a numbers advantage before the snap.

"It was a numbers play," Meyer said. "We went plus to the numbers. That's the great thing about that formation, you can identity it just like that if you've got numbers on them. You can easily identify numbers in formations like that."

WATCHING DEMPS' TOUCHES: Demps touched the ball 29 times on offense after coming nowhere close to that number in the first two games.

Emmanuel Moody got banged up last week in practice, so his production was limited. Mike Gillislee had eight carries and two touchdowns, but the Florida coaches still are trying to limit them because he is the "ace on special teams."

The number of touches for Demps is a concern.

"We're a little concerned about that," Meyer said. "Not because Jeff can't handle it, but just because if you ride one horse for too long, eventually that horse might go down."

APPROACHING 100 WINS: A win against Kentucky on Saturday would be Meyer's 100th career win.

"I feel very blessed," Meyer said. "It's about great players and great assistant coaches. One hundred games just means you've been doing it long enough."

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