UF Will Have Healthy WR Corps For Bowl Game

With a couple more weeks to get ready and a relatively healthy corps of wide receivers for the first time in a couple of months, Coach Urban Meyer likes the offensive personnel the Florida Gators will put on the field for the January 2 Outback Bowl game against Iowa in Tampa. The Gators will have Dallas Baker, Chad Jackson and Jemalle Cornelius all at full speed for the first time since the Kentucky game and that will definitely impact Florida's game plan.

Florida lost Bubba Caldwell for the season with a broken leg against Tennessee. In subsequent weeks the Gators lost productivity from Jackson because of a number of dings, lost Cornelius for the better part of three games because of a high ankle sprain suffered against Alabama, and lost Baker in the first half of the Georgia game with an ankle sprain and most of the Vanderbilt game with a broken rib and punctured lung.

The injuries definitely took a toll on what the Gators could do offensively over that six game stretch.

"We're finally really healthy at receiver," said Meyer after Friday's practice, Florida's first hard practice in a couple of weeks because of final examinations. "We have Dallas, Chad and Jemalle. A lot of that [poor offensive production] was because of that [injury situation at wide receiver] and Tate Casey (tight end) is involved now and Billy Latsko (fullback) so we're much more prepared to play personnel than we've ever been."

Florida's offense for the bowl game won't necessarily be the offense that Meyer wants to go with next season, but right now, the goal is "we're just going to try to win this game and what we can do best we'll do it."

Meyer said that the offensive package the Gators showed against Florida State was indicative of best using the personnel that was available.

"You watch the Florida State game," he said. "There's a good little element of the spread offense in there and there's some two back. I think that's where we are right now.

"Dan (offensive coordinator Mullen) did an excellent job changing up run-pass on first down, keeping them off balance, getting Chris (Leak, quarterback) out of the pocket … all the things we seem to do well. This is a key game. We've got to win this and we're going to do everything we can to win it."

PRACTICE PLANS: This was Florida's first heavy duty practice in a couple of weeks. The Gators have held some workouts in the past two weeks, but mostly they were to stay in shape and keep the team's head in the game of football somewhat even with final examinations going on.

"Those other ones [workouts the past two weeks] were just to keep in shape," said Meyer, who indicated the Gators will work hard Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Gators will break for Christmas after Wednesday then regroup in Tampa for the bowl game on December 26. Once in Tampa, Florida will take a typical game week approach by going hard early, then easing off on physical contact as the game approaches.

Florida is taking the approach that there is plenty to play for. The Gators want that ninth win and the momentum of ending the season with a win over Florida State and a bowl victory to carry over into the spring. He's been involved in bowl games where there was no incentive to play well.

"I've been involved in that. I'm not going to give you names and places because that's not fair," he said. "I've been involved in that when no one wants to go [to the bowl game] and that's not the case here and certainly wasn't the case last year or the year before."

Meyer said watching bowl games that it is not too difficult to figure out which teams have incentive to play.

"You watch some of these bowl games and you can figure it out who's not playing for something," he said.

RECRUITING AVALANCHE: Meyer received great news during the week on the recruiting front when St. Augustine Nease quarterback Tim Tebow and Stone Mountain (GA) Stephenson defensive end Jermaine Cunningham both committed to the Gators, bringing Florida's total of verbal commitments to a most impressive 23. The Gators are ranked either second or third in recruiting right now by just about every recruiting service.

Asked if he's ever been part of a recruiting avalanche like this, Meyer responded with a grin, "there's more coming too, I'm going to tell you."

Florida seems to be in the final two or three of nearly every top recruit that the Gators have targeted. The Gators class if filling up so quickly that some players who will wind up as stars at other schools just won't fit into this class. Meyer obviously isn't surprised that the Gators are having that kind of success, either.

"It should be like that, it really should," said Meyer. "The more I get to know this great university, it should be like that. The one thing I have over a lot of these players and a lot of other people I've seen other places and it should be like that here, it really should."

CI AND DICKEY: Gavin Dickey is going to be the backup quarterback to Chris Leak for the Outback Bowl and while redshirt freshman Cornelius Ingram will continue to get some snaps as a quarterback, Coach Urban Meyer and the Florida staff are doing what they can to get him ready to play some receiver in the bowl game.

"He's just a big athlete with a big smile on his face, running around out there having fun and we're going to try to get him involved in the bowl game," said Meyer of the 6-4, 225-pounder from Hawthorne. "He can catch the ball real well. He's a good athlete."

Ingram, an All-American in two sports (football and basketball) coming out of high school, had been the center of speculation that he might transfer if asked to switch positions a few weeks ago. Meyer says that Ingram is adapting well to the new position and seems to be enjoying the move.

Meyer noted that Ingram "doesn't talk much … you guys know CI as well as I do. There's not a whole lot of lengthy discussions we have but he seems to be pleasant and happy. He just wants to play."

As a receiver, it's likely he will see action in the slot positions where he can use his size, speed and big body to overpower the typical safety.

"We're really pumping him hard at that U-Y receiver position," said Meyer, who added that there is a very good chance that Ingram will see action in the bowl game.

As for Dickey, the former Parade All-American quarterback from Tallahassee Lincoln, spent the entire season as a wide receiver, but with Josh Portis transferring out before the bowl game, it's been necessary that the fourth-year junior make the move back to quarterback. Meyer said he's adapting well to the move.

"Gavin's going to be full time quarterback for this ball game," said Meyer. "We're going to make him the backup. He's a good athlete that's grown up playing catch and moving around."

The only difficulty he's encountered, said Meyer, is "getting the cadence and some of the little intricacies of it back because he hasn't done it in a while."

Meyer said he's not even questioning if Dickey will be available for the spring. Dickey is a starting outfielder on Florida's baseball team and he's expected to go in the first 10-15 rounds of the June Major League Baseball Draft.

"I don't know about next year," said Meyer. "We're just trying to get through the next two weeks."

GRADUATION KUDOS: Saturday morning, six Gators will be receiving their diplomas including starters Lance Butler (offensive tackle) and Todd McCullough (linebacker). Others who will be participating in graduation are Kyle Morgan, Jimmy Neumeyer, Brian Royal and Shane Cimock.

SCHIRALLI NEW GRAD ASSISTANT: Offensive graduate assistant Ryan Day has taken a full-time position on the new staff at Temple University. His position on the staff has been taken by former Gator wide receiver Nick Shiralli.

Schiralli lettered for the Gators four years playing wide receiver and special teams. He was part of SEC championship teams in 1995 and 1996 and a member of the 1996 National Championship team.

Meyer said that at most schools it's easy to find graduate assistants but not so easy at Florida.

"You need a 3.0 and 1000 on the GRE (Graduate Record Examination)," Meyer said with a smile. "There's not a lot of coaches including the one you're taking to who score that high. The graduate school at Florida is obviously prestigious so it narrows the list down to about one and he's here plus he's a Gator!"

Schiralli, who made the All-SEC academic team, is married to the former Jenny DeLoach, a former swimmer for the Gators.

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