Good Practice Has Meyer Smiling Again

It didn't require a clairvoyant to read Coach Urban Meyer's mind Thursday afternoon when practice ended. The bounce in his step and the smile on his face were revealing, but when he quipped to the media gathering around him that "it was such a good day that I'm even glad to see you guys," it was evident that Florida's football coach was pleased with the way this practice session had gone from start to finish.

Meyer has been almost cryptic after practices in the past two and a half weeks. He's offered up some praise but not enough to figure out his overall feeling about this football team. Although his Thursday remarks were not exactly a ringing endorsement that the Gators are where he wants them to be as they streamline their preparation for the season opener in nine days against Wyoming, he made it clear that the team was showing real signs of life.

Meyer remarked that the "tempo of practice" was exactly what he wanted. Coming off hard practices and two-a-days in brutal heat and humid conditions, Meyer had mentioned both Monday and Tuesday that he was looking for the team to get their collective legs back under them. He has been looking for the heavy, tired legs of two-a-days to be replaced by a team with its second wind, energized and with some spring returning to their legs.

"We are not a slow walk-around outfit," said Meyer. "We're fast, up tempo, get up to the line of scrimmage, call the play and go, get back up and go again."

That was the way practice went Thursday. That's a sign that the team is starting to round into game shape.

"Our scout teams did a good job, our coaches did a good job but most importantly our players," he said. "That's the way a practice is supposed to look and to be honest with you, I haven't seen many of those around here like that."

Thursday's practice was helped by the return of Brandon Siler, who missed the past two practices as a precaution to a mild concussion he suffered at Monday's morning session. Siler didn't go full speed Thursday, but he should be back to normal by Friday.

Brandon Siler waits for his match-up

"He's a great linebacker but there are a bunch of great linebackers in the world," said Meyer. "He just brings another element to the game. Being out there, even what he was today, helped the team."

It was also a good practice for Chris Leak, whom Meyer said is "getting better." Meyer said that Leak is way ahead of where Alex Smith was at this stage two years ago at Utah.

"The difference is Alex never had any experience," said Meyer. "Chris Leak has two years in the SEC in the shotgun."

GRESHAM HELPS OUT AT DE: True freshman linebacker Daryl Gresham has been getting some reps at defensive end to help address a lack of depth at that position. Meyer said it's too early to tell if that is going to be a permanent move for the 6-3, 250-pounder from Roanoke, Virginia.

"Daryl Gresham is a talented guy that we have to find him a place," said Meyer. "He's 250 right now. We recruited him as a linebacker but have some depth concerns at defensive end right now. Is that move official? No. Are we thinking and talking about what's best for the young man and the team? We're thinking about what's best."

Daryl Gresham

Meyer said that Gresham has the kind of body that will allow him to add some weight if the move to defensive end is determined to be permanent.

"He's got a big time body type which is what you want," said Meyer.

NEWCOMERS OF INFLUENCE: While Gresham is addressing a shortage of defensive ends, there are other first year players who will definitely see action in game one against Wyoming.

Meyer mentioned three newcomers in the secondary as likely to play along with one linebacker and one running back.

"Avery Atkins (corner, true freshman) will," he said. "Reggie Nelson (nickel/corner, sophomore and junior college transfer) is not a true freshman but I imagine he will ... Dorian Monroe (true freshman, nickel/safety) because we're limited in numbers … Jon Demps (true freshman, linebacker) almost for sure will … Kestahn Moore will … those are the guys that will."

Meyer said that he's not certain that his freshman wide receivers will play in game one but added that "before the season's over they will."

MOVER AND SHAKER: Add junior wide receiver Kenneth Tookes to the movers and shakers list. If he continues to improve he could become the next great reclamation project for this coaching staff.

Tookes is a fourth year player who has two catches (one in 2003, one in 2004) for 30 yards to show for his stay at Florida. The 6-2, 209-pounder out of Jacksonville First Coast has started making a move lately and now he's got a chance to move into the number five wide receiver slot.

"Kenneth Tookes is working his way up," said Meyer. "I can't give you where he's at right now but he's one of our more improved guys, but from spring ball to now he's improved."

INJURY REPORT: There were no significant injuries to report. The good news is that the team is healing from what Meyer calls a lot of "sores, not hurts."

Todd McCullough (sore knee) was back at full speed Thursday. Earl Everett is day-to-day but expected back at full speed very soon from a sore neck. Dee Webb (shoulder) won't see any contact before the Wyoming game but he'll be ready to play. Siler (concussion) was doing drills Thursday but he'll be full speed again Thursday or Friday. Tavares Washington (sore shoulder) and Randy Hand (sore knee) are both at full speed.

OFFENSIVE DESCRIPTION: Asked to define his offense considering there have been so many reports about what it is or is not, Meyer responded, "We like to run the football and every now and then throw it. If we're scoring points in the red zone and we're taking care of the football, that's a successful offense."

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