Gators Will Practice Light Until Saturday

The film on Iowa is in and the game planning has begun for the Florida Gators January 2 game in the Outback Bowl in Tampa but it's still a few more days before Coach Urban Meyer will ratchet up the intensity level in practice. Right now, the Gators are staying in shape and keeping their focus but it won't be until Saturday that they start going at each other again with some purpose.

With final examinations on the horizon next week, Meyer's purpose is to keep the players in shape and thinking about football but not so much that it will distract them from finals. This is also a time when most of his assistant coaches are out recruiting so he doesn't even have a full slate of coaches to work with.

"It's still a skeleton crew as far as coaches," said Meyer after Tuesday's 80-minute workout. "We just have two guys --- Coach (Greg) Mattison, Coach (Dan) Mullen --- and myself so we're just keeping them in shape and throwing it around a little bit."

The routine at some schools is to give plenty of time off until exams are over and only then will the bowl preparations begin but Meyer likes his approach better.

"A lot of guys give a lot of time off but I'd much rather keep throwing it around a little bit," he said. "We go on Saturday … we'll have shoulder pads on and practice with the game plan. We've got all the film in and we've started out a little bit but by Saturday we'll have a pretty good idea of what we're doing."

The 8-3 Gators figure to have their hands full with the 7-4 Hawkeyes, who averaged 249 yards per game throwing the ball and 183 yards rushing. Iowa does like to throw the ball with quarterback Drew Tate, but the Hawkeyes also play a very physical running game. The Hawkeyes beat the Gators 37-17 in their last head to head matchup in the Outback Bowl a couple of years ago.

"They play tough, Big Ten football which I'm very familiar with," said Meyer. "They're a tough tough physical outfit. I watched two years ago and it's a similar style of play."

With recruiting going full bore and the Gators sitting on 21 recruits --- a class that is shaping up to be one of the top three in the nation --- Meyer is aware that a lot of eyes are on the Gators for this bowl game and it is important for Florida to deliver with a win. It is also important for Meyer because he wants to send his seniors out with a victory.

"Winning the ninth game is really important to these guys," he said. "Winning a bowl game is really important, really important. I was talking to Christ Leak about that. Being a quarterback you need to go win a bowl game at the University of Florida. You're supposed to. It's kind of important … matter of fact it's real important."

For the seniors, Meyer wants them to go out with a win and with the same kind of passion for the game they showed a couple of weeks ago when the Gators beat Florida State, 34-7. With the exception of Todd McCullough, the Gators don't have a senior who has played on the winning side in a bowl game.

"I think it's important you don't dwell on the past," said Meyer. "I'd rather talk about the FSU game and the passion with which they played. You win those last two and you play like you did against FSU, they're going to remember you very well around here."

ALL-SEC: For the second straight day, an All-SEC team was named. This one was the coaches All-SEC team. Only senior center Mike Degory made the first team for Florida. The Gators did place five on the second team. Making the second unit were offensive tackle Randy Hand, wide receiver Chad Jackson, defensive end Jeremy Mincey, cornerback Dee Webb and placekicker Chris Hetland.

Meyer was happy for the ones who got some recognition but disappointed that a few other players didn't get some sort of recognition. He was especially disappointed for senior safety Jarvis Herring.

"There was no conference call … no one really asked my opinion of who should make it," said Meyer. "You fill out a sheet where you can't vote for your own players and that's all you do. In other leagues I've been in you're allowed to speak for a few minutes on behalf of your players.

"I think every coach should be entitled to say Jarvis Herring is captain of our team one of our best players and played very well."

Meyer was also disappointed that linebackers Brandon Siler and Earl Everett, defensive tackle Marcus Thomas and cornerback Vernell Brown got nothing in the way of recognition.

"Vernell Brown is in the same category as Jarvis Herring," said Meyer. "Vernell and Jarvis … that's important to them. Brandon's got another year coming back … another two years. Earl Everett's got another year. Marcus Thomas is another guy who played very well in the SEC games."

Georgia led the Coaches All-SEC with five first team selections and four second team selections. LSU had seven combined first and second team selections while Alabama had a combined six, which tied with Florida for the third most players selected to the top two teams.

RAY MC UPDATE: Ray McDonald had surgery on his knee Monday so he's definitely out for the Outback Bowl. He will have surgery on his other knee in a few weeks so he will miss all of spring practice. Meyer saw McDonald Monday night and planned having the big junior defensive end/tackle over at his house Tuesday night.

"His spirits are high and he's got a lot of work to do," said Meyer. "It's going to be a tough rehab but he's a tough kid."

Meyer believes McDonald will rehab easily although it is a long process. Meyer said McDonald will "be ready to go in August."

REGGIE BUSH THE REAL DEAL: Meyer said that he saw Reggie Bush play high school football and the Southern California running back, favored to take home the Heisman Trophy Saturday evening, is the real deal.

"I got to meet him [Bush] at the Heisman [awards ceremony] last year too," said Meyer. "I saw a film of Adrian Peterson as well and I saw Reggie Bush … the kind of film that after three or four plays you say yea, that's the real one."


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