Monday Practice Report

Florida players hold meeting without coaches to voice concerns in wake of 3-3 start....

Hoping to boost Florida's floundering confidence, several seniors led a team meeting Sunday evening to air out concerns regarding a 3-3 start. The gathering, which lasted about 45 minutes, allowed anyone from freshmen to seniors the opportunity to vent.

"It was just necessary," senior CB Keiwan Ratliff said. "You can call it drastic. You can call it whatever. We looked at ourselves as players, and we said ‘enough is enough.' We're going to be the ones out on the field, so we need to come together."

Prior to the full-squad meeting, seniors met to first discuss their own issues. Players remained tight-lipped about the details, claiming it was a team-only matter.

"Sometimes people feel more comfortable saying things amongst their peers instead of other people," said senior OT Max Starks, who pointed out the Gators held a similar meeting last season.

As a result of Saturday's 20-17 loss to Ole Miss, Florida fell out of both Top 25 polls for the first time in 226 weeks. The Gators' next three games won't get much easier, as they now must face three teams ranked among the nation's top 10 – LSU, Arkansas and Georgia – away from The Swamp.

"This is something none of us have ever felt around here," said TB Ran Carthon, who scheduled Sunday's meeting. "Not everyone comes from a storied program like Lincoln (High) or Miami-Northwestern. Some of us came from losing teams in high school, and we wanted to come here to be a part of championships. To start off 3-3, it's pretty frustrating."

Ratliff said the seniors felt it necessary to let freshmen also voice their concerns during the meeting, although such matters are usually handled by upperclassmen.

"If we just let seniors talk, younger guys would feel like, ‘I didn't get to say what I wanted to say,'" he said. "We just wanted everybody to come out in the open and say what they thought needed to be done. Whether anything gets changed or not, we don't know. That's out of our hands."

ANY NEWS IS GOOD NEWS

As Florida's depth at linebackers remained bleak Monday, Coach Ron Zook will take any good news he can get – no matter how minor.

On a slightly bright note, redshirt freshman LB Taurean Charles went through practice despite being nagged by eight stitches in his leg.

Charles, a backup at middle linebacker, slipped while walking up a flight of stairs Thursday, slicing open his calf. His progress will be closely monitored throughout the week.

"He did quite a bit tonight," Zook said. "We want to wait and see if his leg's fine. How much he plays will depend on how much he practices. I don't have any reason to believe that he won't practice extremely well."

But no matter how much practice he gets, the Gators may need to look to Charles for help if he is cleared to play. LBs Channing Crowder (knee), Todd McCullough (shoulder) and Dwright Jackson (shoulder) all remain out of action with injuries.

BRIEFLY

Zook's continued confidence in QB Chris Leak didn't waver Monday, as the coach remained at the true freshman's defense despite his fourth-quarter mishaps. "He's fine," Zook said. "He's not the first guy who's thrown 3 interceptions around here. He probably won't be the last."


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