Meyer Says Gators Missing Energy

The energy Urban Meyer is used to seeing on the field is no longer there. The passion his team showed over the past two seasons has been erased from this year's group. The lack of success has affected it. The struggles against South Carolina could completely wipe the energy out for the rest of the season.

Urban Meyer and his coaching staff now begin trying to harness energy for the remaining three games of the season.

First, he wants to find where the problems are coming from.

"There's a void in our team right now, somewhere," Meyer said at his Monday press conference. "That's what I'm trying to figure out what it is. Whether it be energy level or chemistry, there's a little bit of a void. I think a lot of times when you take five players the quality of those (who went to the NFL early) and the energy that they brought, we've always been a high energy, up-tempo, chest-bumping, flying around team. I don't see it."

"There's a void in there somewhere we have to recruit to, develop it and coach the mess out of it. That's what we are. That's Florida football."

Meyer originally fell in love with Florida while watching Steve Spurrier coach the team. It was their attitude on the field and energy they played with back then that made the Gators an attractive team for him to watch.

His teams played with that energy early in his time as the head coach. However, it's no longer there.

"I hear people say that when they watch Florida play, they just love watching the Gators play," Meyer said. "It's the energy level in the stadium and the flying around. That doesn't exist at the level we expect right now."

SENIOR DAY SATURDAY: 23 seniors will be honored Saturday before the Appalachian State game. It's a group that is 41-10 in their time on campus, including 11-1 against their rivals.

"This season has been full of speed bumps and adversity," Meyer said. "I let you know if we don't have a good senior class, but this is a great group of guys. There are a bunch of Gator greats and a bunch of guys we're very happy came to Florida. We want to send them out winners."

STAFF EVALUATION: With all the frustration of the sputtering offense, there will be a time after the season when Meyer evaluates the assistant coaches as well.

"There is a time at the end of the year for it," Meyer said. "I'm not into blame. I'm not into excuses. We're into solutions. We started heading in the right direction, but we've got to get the momentum back."

However, Meyer also will do an analysis of himself. He admits there have been plenty of things he could have done better this season as the head coach.

"I'm going to do the best I can to get this thing back to the elite level we all expect," Meyer said. "There are great young players with promise."

FIGURING OUT THE OFFENSE: The struggling offense continues to be the focus of attention. The coaches are still searching for ways to utilize the three quarterbacks without giving away the type of play to the defense.

"We're going to play all three," Meyer said. "I made the comment that Johnny will start. We have to raise the level of play around (Brantley). We had a good mix when we forced them to defend quarterback plays."

Meyer said there must be a bigger usage of Burton and Reed. Saturday's loss to South Carolina is a perfect example of an offense that is tough to defend because of the running ability from Gamecocks quarterback Stephen Garcia.

"South Carolina wasn't that hard to defend several years ago," Meyer said. "Even when they had great players, but now they have the dynamic of the width of the field where Garcia pulls the ball down. You have to have that somewhere in your offense. We have to do it with Jordan and Trey."

Instead of continuing to use Burton and Reed, Meyer admitted that he panicked. They went away from the game plan although South Carolina was only leading 15-7 and decided to give Brantley more time to throw and get back into the game. The game plan involved heavier doses of Burton and Reed.

"Probably a mistake," Meyer said. "We felt a little panicked when things weren't going well. I'm one of those guys who gets panicky. I need to shut my mouth sometimes and go with the plan. I put that one on me. I'm used to plays around here. That wasn't happening."

The necessity for a running quarterback in the mix comes from the heavy blitzes that are sent at Brantley. Defenses don't view him as a threat to run with the ball, so they blitz him on almost every snap, knowing that it's likely a pass play.

"If there's no threat, it's pressure after pressure," Meyer said. "You've got two solutions. One is to throw the ball all over the lot. The other is to hand it off to a 235-pound tailback. We would love to have a 235-pound back, but those are real hard to find. We have dynamic smaller backs to get into space, so we have to try to continue doing that."

The recruitment of a 235-pound running back is the part Meyer has been trying to make happen. They just haven't made it work on the recruiting trail.

"It's hard," Meyer said. "I didn't realize it would be that hard. We made an attempt to head that direction at one time. I can't talk about recruits, but we're going to develop what we can get."

Meyer said the struggles weren't all Brantley's fault. However, when asked if Reed's role could expand in coming weeks, Meyer said "perhaps." They will evaluate it in practice this week.

"That's a possibility," Meyer said. "He does provide energy just the way he plays. The energy level is critical."

EASLEY STATUS: Freshman defensive tackle Dominique Easley is now "back on the team and practicing."

"He's doing a good job in the classroom and working hard," Meyer said.

OFFENSIVE LINE STRUGGLES: The transition to Brantley at quarterback this season was supposed to be smooth because of the offensive line returning four starters. Instead, they have made it harder for him.

Meyer pointed again to Matt Patchan's injury hurting the depth of the offensive line, but there's no doubt they haven't lived up to expectations.

"That's one of several concerns we've had," Meyer said. "To say we've lost confidence in the offensive line would be incorrect because so many things go into it. Are we holding the ball to long or dropping passes? It's not about blame. It's about coming up with solutions as fast as we can."

APPALACHIAN STATE A CHALLENGE: The emotions will be flowing on Saturday as 23 seniors play their final game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Once the ceremony is over with, Meyer knows his team must come to play. Appalachian State is 9-1 this season and recently won three straight FCS national championships from 2005-2007.

"This isn't some clown show," Meyer said. "This is a real one. I know that coach very well. You watch their style play and it resembles when we were at our highest level. They have ridiculous effort on punt block and special teams. Offensively they use athletes all over the field to create issues for you."
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