FOOTBALL: Meyer - Offense Just Not There Yet

Urban Meyer spoke to the press on Sunday less than 24 hours after his Florida Gator team lost in humiliating fashion to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Understandably disappointed in the outcome, Meyer fielded questions about the game and the season at this stage in time.

The Gators went without an offensive touchdown for the first time since 1992. The Gators didn't win the turnover margin for the first time this season coughing up their first two interceptions of the season. It was a bad offensive performance, but a microcosm of the entire season so far.

"We have not played well on offense all year," Meyer said. "We scored some points in the first half against Kentucky as a product of getting some turnovers down in there deep and some guys making some big plays, but we haven't functioned as a unit on offense yet in the '05 season. It's shocking and disappointing, but we just need to solve some problems."

The offensive line has been very porous all season and has taken the brunt of the heat so far this early season. Meyer understands some changes need to be made somewhere up front, whether it is personnel or whatever.

"We didn't play very well, we had some guys going the wrong way when we were checking a few times," said Meyer. "We have some new guys that haven't played very much. The atmosphere kind of led to that."

The running game hasn't gotten on-track much this season either. On Saturday, linebacker Earl Everett was the second leading rusher with a 32-yard fake punt behind DeShawn Wynn's 47 yards on 12 carries. Meyer expects to get a longer look at Markus Manson this week in practice for the game against Mississippi State next week.

"Markus is taking care of the ball better and he shows flashes of that different speed," Meyer said. "He has that speed to hit the hole. This week in practice Markus is going to get the chance to carry the ball."

Meyer isn't ready to throw in the towel just yet. The offensive woes, coupled by a surprising defensive struggle on the road aren't enough to expect a good season out of his team. He expects the Gators to learn a lot from the game and move on.

"I think you learn a lot about a team when they are struggling," he said. "We are 4-1 right now and really haven't played a productive offensive game. Whether its personnel changes or evaluate how we are doing things, I think we do learn a lot from it."

He still holds true to the mantra that the most prepared team will win the game on Saturday. In that vein, it is time to work a little harder. "It doesn't matter how it affected me, it matter how it affects our players," he said. "There is only one way I know how to handle it, that is to work a little harder, focus more intently, and make sure the guys on the field are the ones that are going to get it done."

"I say that whenever we lose a game. The human element is alive and that means that everybody will want to say we lost because of this (or that). I very simply say that the most prepared team is the one that wins and that's why we practice so hard. I have gone through the special teams and the special team played fairly well. I've gone through the first half of offense and we didn't play well at all. I believe when we win we were better prepared and when we lose we weren't."

The team was shocked after the game. This is not what they expected at any point in the season. The leadership at a time like this is very important, and some were quick to let everyone know it isn't over yet.

(The team was) very quiet, very disappointed, devastated (after the game)," he said. "I think Mincey and a couple of older guys were saying we are still in first in the SEC East, I don't know if that is true, but we have a big win in the east. We are 4-1 after five games, so winning the next one is the most important thing for us to do."

Meyer is also ready to face the scrutiny that comes with being the head football coach of the Florida gators, especially after a huge loss like this. He understands it and expects it.

"Am I ready to face it, sure it comes with the position I hold," he said. "How do I handle it? The same way I handle a struggling offense, work a little harder."

NOTES…

When asked about the speed of Alabama, he pointed out that their players weren't necessarily faster, but they played faster. He was extremely impressed with Tyrone Prothro who scored two touchdowns and left the game with a grotesque injury.

"I think they played very fast." he said. "That number four is a legitimate big time player. He is a different speed than anyone else on the field. They were the better team Saturday, but I am not willing to say they (have better players).

Meyer didn't receive the trainer's report yet but doesn't expect injuries to Tavares Washington, Jim Tartt, or Jemalle Cornelius to be serious.


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