Coach Meyer talks about the upcoming UT game

"As I like to do every week I want to go through our Plan To Win. We try to follow that very closely. It all starts with playing great defense. When you hold a team to 48 total yards in the second half, I was very pleased with that.

"A lot of times you will see a team come out without a lot of energy. I think we played our best football in the second half. Another bright spot was I think our twos in the fourth quarter, there were times when we have had trouble scoring with no defense out there, but they moved the ball. I don't believe we scored with them, but they moved the ball methodically down the field.

Back to great defense, our rushing defense held our opponents to minus five in the second half, they had 45 rushing yards total. 21% third downs and 13 of 14 possessions were turnovers or forced punts. We are playing very well on defense. There is a lot of room for improvement, especially since we were the better team. We gave up three scores this year, two against Wyoming that were products of a kickoff and a fake punt and a long kickoff return. Then we had a turnover and a personal foul penalty. If you take away those three scores (due to outside circumstances) our defense has two shutouts. They are playing very well. Our secondary and defensive line, if you just watch them play, are tied together. If you get pressure on the quarterback, you don't have to hold the coverage very long. Those are two of the brightest spots on the team.

Turnovers are the second part of the ‘Plan to Win'. We created four and gave up one. It was our first turnover of the year but have been fortunate. because we have had a couple of bad throws and a couple of balls on the ground, but a good effort by the backs. We are having a pretty good year turnover wise.

Red Zone production, we were five of six and five touchdowns. We don't count the last one because we were letting the clock run out. The other was with the twos when Josh Portis threw the pass on 4th and 18. Red Zone production we have been pretty good.

Finally the kicking game, not a good day. We had several penalties. Nothing non-correctable. The one bright spot was we had a 42 yard net average. We have a lot of work to do.

Time of Possession was pretty good.

Our champions on defense, were Vernell Brown, Reggie Nelson, Joe Cohen , and Kyle Jackson. Of all those names the three that stand out are Reggie, Joe and Kyle, those guys haven't been talked about much, but they are making a great push right now, Kyle Jackson in particular. The way that Coach Heater and Holliday break it down is how many opportunities a secondary player has. For example if you play 85 plays and they don't throw your way, and you grade 80%, who cares? But, a secondary guy has to make a play when his number is called. . Kyle Jackson had seven opportunities to make that play. We need five out of seven, and he hit six out of seven, which is a really good day. He had an interception, a caused fumble, three unassisted and two assisted tackles.

On offense we had two champions this week. Mike Degory graded out 82% and played fairly well. Our tailback (DeShawn Wynn), we gave him a champion effort. He had 106 yards and a 24 yard touchdown reception. He played fairly well. Still, a lot of improvement to go offensively.

Q and A Session….

After meeting with the players today are you starting to have a feel for te rivalry?

I have a pretty good feel, I have coached for a few years. I have never coached in this game, but I have watched this game from afar. I have great respect for our opponent, and great respect for the University of Florida. And what this game means. I have not been around our team yet, the last time I saw the team we were singing the fight song in the locker room. We have a team meeting at 4 o'clock, I am anxious to see the look in their eyes, because they will see it in our eyes.

Talk about the disappointment in punt returns…

We have to block better. We have Avery Atkins out there holding up the gunner and he has to get better. Punt returns here have been an issue for a while here. Kick returns I think we are getting better, although we dropped one.

On the Gator offensive line vs. the Vol defensive line…

That is their strength against what should be our strength, it isn't yet, but it should be. We have four seniors, their defensive line is probably the best we will see. They are big and fast and better than they were last year. They are a better defensive line than they were last year. They are noticeably quicker, stronger, and more experienced. We will win this game if we block those guys. Our offensive line has got to come off. It should be one of our strengths because of experience.

On the Gator defensive line vs. the Vol offensive line…

We aren't as big if you compare size. I like to think we are as athletic, but we don't have the size. Some of these cats are 300 pounds, and we don't have one. But we take pride in our brand of football we use movement and try to pressure you with some blitzes. I'd have to say the advantage goes to our opponent due to size and speed. The D-line, there isn't a more improved position on our team. We should be ready for this one.

On the Tennessee running game…

Its everything they do, it's the personnel. What makes the great teams great is the players they have. One thing about the Riggs, he is a great power back, but he also can get the edge on you. I think DeShawn Wynn is very similar. Their offense is very well coached and they are gigantic. That is who they are. In the last ten years, I am not sure there is a better team in the country in terms of wins and losses.

On CJ Leak and his role in this game…

I've had some people ask if that (this game) is the reason CJ is here? I like to say sure. But he is here because he is a high character / high quality person. I like those guys in the coaching profession. He has helped us with personnel, but that is over rated too. This video equipment is good enough to watch how good they are.

On Coach Mattison as a resource because of the Tennessee / Notre Dame…

We watched that game at great length, but Tennessee played in a box in that game for some reason. With the skill they have, I wouldn't anticipate t(them doing that). Notre Dame had such a great run defense, and their secondary struggled. Coach Strong has also coached against them, so he is also a great resource to have.

On ‘spurring" on te rivalry by making remarks about Tennessee…

I'm sorry to let you down. If you have watched our kickoff coverage the last two weeks, my focus is not on playing games. We will do some things within the team but we don't want to cross that line of disrespect. Regardless of what has been done in the past, we will always respect our opponent. I think a job of a coach is to have the team ready to play. Right now we have so many needs and so many issues, if we want to make it a great rivalry, then go win the game.

Assessing Tennessee's two quarterbacks…

There is a lot of film on both of them. Ainge is as talented a quarterback as there is. I think he is going into some youth issues in terms of experience. When you have two picks in one game, a lot of times in close games, that is the difference. The same with our quarterbacks. if the young guy doesn't take care of the football, he won't be in there. Clausen, all he does is win games. I keep hearing about his arm strength,, his arm strength is fine. Go ask Texas A&M how his arm strength was. Not very mobile? Well he is mobile enough to win games. Any time you have two quarterbacks that have played, it is a luxury.

On Chris leak forcing the ball…

If there is confusion in this game with pass plays, those pass plays are being erased as we speak up stairs. The key is not how comfortable the coach is, it's how comfortable the player is with that pass play. As we get more into this, Chris will script our plays. When we script third downs and become more familiar he will say ‘here is what I like, and why I like it'. We are not there yet, but as he gets more familiar with this offense, we will try and add to it. Obviously, we need to have more than one or two plays, we need to have a series of plays.. Any new quarterback in a new system, that is the key. They dropped eight and only rushed three, he made a read and there was an extra guy (in coverage). That happened twice. We have to do a better job coaching him.

What are the attributes you look for in recruiting quarterbacks…..

The first one is a high character guy, a guy that is accountable and is a competitor. I think Jeff Tedford and Dan Mullen are the two best at coaching quarterbacks. We are fortunate to have some high character people. It is the one position you can not have issues at and we are fortunate to have some high character people. Second, we need to have a guy that can make some plays. Maybe a guy that doesn't have a great arm, but can get it to the right place. Third, we like athleticism, you can't run this offense if you can't get out of trouble and get out and run on the edge a little bit. Fortunately, Chris Leak can do all of the above and we feel Josh Portis can. That is the kind of guys we recruit.

On Tennessee woorying about CJ Leak stealing hand signals…

Coaches do get very nervous. I was sitting on the sideline and was getting on the coordinator who was signaling plays, and I asked if he had any dummy signals. He said he was signaling wristbands. Nowadays, in stealing signals, I am not sure it is a major part of college football like it used to be. It used to be a major deal, we used to have a grad assistant with binoculars telling us he thinks he got it, but he never got it.

On getting their playbook or them getting the Gators playbook…

That is over rated as it can be. Players just need to execute. You know what I think is important? Practice. Practice, and hitting on situations. That is what is important. Look at our third down and our execution and we're not on it. We aren't that far off, but we better be on it this week.

On the Tennessee game being his defining moment as a coach…

Defining moment? Not at all. I look at it as an opportunity to coach against a great football team. I think it will be scrutinized, I'm not naïve. This will be the highest ranked opponent (I have coached against). It is probably the best football team I've coached against as a position coach or a head coach. I was thinking about that the other day. Is it a defining moment? No. I have been a head coach for how long it's been, I hope for many more.

Will Eric Nappy start as field goal kicker?

I am not going to name that until game time. Another young guy hit a 40 and 47 yarder. I think we have some good kickers, but I'm not sure we have a great one. We better become great real fast with the history of this game. It would be hard for me not to put Hetland out there for a 47 yard field goal, because I have seen him hit it. I haven't seen Nappy hit one, although he did hit his extra points.

Fightin Gators Top Stories