Loss Shows Importance of Meyer's Plan to Win

Urban Meyer's message to his team was simple after the 31-6 loss to Alabama. The game is over. Every goal the Gators set out for this season remains in place, as they control their own destiny to win the SEC East and clinch a berth in the SEC Championship Game. However, it also allowed the coaches to point out the importance of the plan to win.

"If you don't follow our plan, you get your tail kicked in," Urban Meyer said Monday. "You face a team like that in that environment and not play on point, that's a bad day for you."

The Gators have experienced pivotal moments to past seasons in the locker room after a loss. In 2006, Meyer joked that it was almost a fistfight in the locker room after a road loss to Auburn. He described the postgame locker room after a 2008 home loss to Ole Miss as "dejected."

Saturday night, the postgame locker room was a mixture of both.

"Some leadership really stepped up," Meyer said. "It's easy to stand up and say something. Now you've got to be a grown man and back it up. I'm anxious to watch it."

The challenge remains in focusing his young team on this weekend's game. An undefeated LSU team is coming to Gainesville, and if there is any sulking, the Gators could lose two-straight games.

"I'm confident they'll respond," Meyer said. "It's week-to-week now. You've seen very mature teams not play well. We're a very young team. Last week we didn't have as good practices."

INJURY REPORT: Jeff Demps is sore but Meyer lists him as probably for Saturday. Demps said he played against Alabama at 90 percent. Mike Gillislee came out of the game, but the injury was a bone bruise, and he is probably for the LSU game.

Matt Patchan is doubtful, and Meyer wasn't sure of his timetable. Fullback Steve Wilks "is getting real close."

EVALUATING THE OPTION: Florida ran multiple options plays with pro-style quarterback John Brantley without much success Saturday. It breeds unnecessary hits on Brantley, and opposing defenses don't respect Brantley's ability to run. It's something the Florida coaches will evaluate.

"We're looking at that," Meyer said. "The option serves a lot of purpose. Cleaning up a defense is one of them, but there is a price for a poorly executed option, which we're kind of seeing every once in a while."

The option won't be removed from the offense. For the offense to work like the coaches want, it will remain.

"Do you eliminate it or improve upon it?" Meyer said. "History shows that we probably put a premium on improving on it and getting it better. There's got to be a little bit of it. To say it's going to be eliminated, that's not going to happen."

SPECIAL TEAMS ANALYSIS: The special teams units were either hit or miss Saturday. Chas Henry punted the ball well, including a 75-yarder. The Florida punt coverage units are known for not giving up punt return yardage, but a 41-yard return by Julio Jones changed that.

"We gave up our first punt return yardage of significance in probably six years," Meyer said. "We gave up more on one punt return than we did in two years. That's an alarming stat that needs to be corrected.

Henry also subbed in as the field goal kicker, going 2-2 with makes from 39 and 21 yards. He was the utility man and will continue to be leaned on.

"If we‘d won the game, his contributions would've been player of the game-ish," Meyer said. "His punt was tremendous. We didn't cover on that one (41-yard return by Julio Jones). The hang time was fine. Sometimes I'll get after him if it's not a five-second hang time, but it was a good one."

Every one was right around the 20-yard line against a group that was high in the return average. The punt has fried me a little bit. It's never happened, and it can't happen. Personnel changes could change immediately if we don't see it fixed… like now.

With Caleb Sturgis out, freshman Brad Phillips was forced to handle kickoffs. Meyer complimented the job he did, as kick returner Trent Richardson's longest one was 23 yards.

"I made him stand up in our meeting room yesterday because I wasn't quite sure who he was," Meyer joked about Phillips. "If I'm not sure, the whole team wasn't sure. He was a four-second hang time on the four or five-yard-line, which was really good."

Meyer didn't want to use Henry on kickoffs because they preferred to keep his leg as fresh as possible. Meyer was still skeptical until a conversation with special teams coach D.J. Durkin.

"He said, "this kid can kick it." I said, "you put your job on that one, big boy?" He said, "sure."

PASS GAME INCREASE POSSIBLE: Meyer and the offensive staff will look at the offense this week and consider an increase in times the Gators throw the ball.

"There is reason to evaluate it," Meyer said. "Our job is to win that game. If that means a higher percentage of passing, we'll do that. If it means managing the game, then we'll manage the game. We're getting better throwing the ball. As we get better and our receivers get back to where they were against Kentucky, we will.

"If you get pass happy and make a mistake, it's six points the other way."

The offense wasn't pretty for most of the game, but the first drive for Florida was. They drove 74 yards before Trey Burton's fourth down jump pass from the 1-yard line was intercepted.

"That first drive was perfect. We went up and down the field with some deceptive plays in there."

HILL IS UP AND DOWN: Meyer called free safety Will Hill's play against Alabama average "for his ability." They continue to wait for him to become a force in the pass defense. Consistency is still the issue.

"He did during training camp," Meyer said. "He's still not where we need him to be at the free safety position. At times he's played well, but we have high expectations for him."

LSU PRESENTS CHALLENGE: The Tigers come to Gainesville after stealing a win from Tennessee. There is plenty of talent on both sides of the ball for LSU, but they haven't harnessed it and put together a complete game yet.

"Offensively, they're a little inconsistent right now," Meyer said. "They've found a back. I met with our defense, and he's tough and physical. We're guessing that's the direction they're going to head. They've got quarterback issues, but I think one's a great runner and one can throw. They've got a lot of speed out wide."

Just as special teams burned the Gators some against Alabama, returner Patrick Peterson presents the most difficult challenge in the return game that Florida has seen this year.

"The issue we'll have is covering punts and kicks," Meyer said. "They put that No. 7 back there, and he's dynamic."
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