Dickey, Ingram Share Backup Snaps At QB

The sudden departure of backup quarterback Josh Portis has the Florida Gators scrambling their preparations for the Outback Bowl. Coach Urban Meyer has moved Gavin Dickey from wide receiver back to quarterback where he's sharing the reps this week with redshirt freshman Cornelius Ingram.

Moving Dickey, a fourth year junior, was predicated by the decision of Portis to transfer, an issue that Meyer said after Tuesday morning's practice, "at some point I'll say something about that but not today." Losing Portis on the depth chart has meant that Dickey is seeing his first reps at quarterback since two-a-days and his most extensive quarterback action since last spring.

Like Dickey, Ingram has been getting reps at another position. Meyer said that both of them will continue to catch the ball in practice as well as take in quarterback reps as the Gators get ready to face Iowa in the Outback Bowl on January 2.

Asked who would be the backup quarterback for the bowl game, Meyer responded, "Gavin Dickey/CI ….we're still working on that."

Ingram has been getting reps as a receiver in practice over the last month. Meyer said that 6-4, 225-pounder from Hawthorne has adapted easily.

"He's fun to watch," said Meyer. "He's never really done it before and a lot of our players are commenting about he's a big, talented guy."

Meyer said that in many ways, Ingram is quite like tight end Tate Casey, a big target for passes but still a bit undersized for the tight end position.

"He's a big receiver/tight end which means he's a little bit like Tate," said Meyer. "Tate's still only 235 pounds. If you remember against FSU when we wanted to close the tight end we actually put (offensive tackle Phil) Trautwein in there because he [Casey] is not a physical enough guy. We wouldn't ask CI to do something like that yet.

"He'll be a tight end/movement guy, kind of like Tate. I think he's having a lot of fun with it."

Meyer said "keeping Chris Leak healthy" is priority one for the Outback Bowl practices.

ONLY AS GOOD AS THE SUPPORTING CAST: Meyer was asked questions about Alex Smith, his quarterback last year at Utah who was the number one draft pick for the NFL. Smith has struggled mightily with a San Francisco team that is one of the worst in the NFL.

"You're as good as what's around you," said Meyer, noting that the supporting cast with the 49ers isn't very good for Smith. "The same is true of Chris Leak. All of a sudden a bunch of guys get hurt and it's Chris this or Chris this. You have to have a great supporting cast. It's a team effort and you have to have everybody around him playing."

Meyer mentioned that he saw Peyton Manning playing for Indianapolis against the Jacksonville Jaguars. While he admires Manning's talent, he also likes the supporting cast that Peyton has with the Colts.

"Those cats around him are all-pro wide receivers," he said.

WORKOUT PLANS: The Gators will run and lift on Thursday, then Friday they will begin practicing in earnest for the Outback Bowl.

"Thursday we're going to come out and run, lift and then Friday we start," he said. "We'll start with the game plan. The guys [assistant coaches] have been working on that in between recruiting trips."

Even though it is finals week, Meyer is not a proponent of giving the team a couple of weeks off completely. He would rather have them in for team workouts that while brief, accomplish something as far as keeping them focused and ready to work toward their next opponent in the bowl game.

"I've hard about some guys who are saying two weeks off but I'm not comfortable with that," he said, adding that "when I became a head coach I promised we'd work out during this time … three guys pull a muscle on the first day you go out if you give them too much time off and you're always worried about guys sucking wind.

"They're going to come in Thursday and stretch and run and lift so on Friday we'll be able to go."

ON THE RECRUITING FRONT: Meyer was obviously a little bit nervous due to the impending announcement of a verbal commitment by quarterback Tim Tebow of St. Augustine Nease. Tebow is the top rated prospect in the state of Florida. He will choose between Florida, Alabama and Southern California at a press conference on ESPN.

Having players announce on television has become the in thing to do, something that Meyer isn't sure is such a good thing.

"You wish it wouldn't be like that but that's the kind of day and age we're in," he said. "Ten years ago I don't think they did that stuff. A lot of them do it at the All-American Bowl (US Army game, sponsored by Scout.com). That's kind of the vogue thing to do nowadays. They announce it and pull it out of a hat. Nyan (Boateng, Florida freshman wide receiver) did that last year."

Meyer said that the Gators will only recruit one quarterback this year even with the departure of Portis.

INJURY UPDATE: Vernell Brown (broken leg) ran and worked out but didn't participate in practice. Meyer said that there is a good chance the senior cornerback will be ready to play in the Outback Bowl.

Wide receiver Bubba Caldwell (broken leg) isn't able to run outside yet, but is working out in the weight room. Meyer said he's gaining his weight back, getting stronger and doing well in his academics.

The reports on defensive tackle Ray McDonald (injuries to both knees) and Jon Demps (ACL) are both optimistic. Meyer hopes McDonald, who will have surgery on his other knee in January, will be ready to go in August. Demps will miss spring practice but should be good to go in August.

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