OUTBACK BOWL: Last practice for seniors

TAMPA --- The 2005 Florida football team participated in their final practice session Saturday afternoon at Pepin Stadium on the University of Tampa campus. The team stayed out on the field after the session recognizing the seniors for their efforts toward each other and the University of Florida program.

Unlike the sweltering heat of August when the team began their quest, today's weather couldn't have been scripted better by the Tampa Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. Immediately after the session Coach Meyer took a few minutes to answer some questions.

You guys were out there a long time. What was going on?

"Senior (recognition). The last practice as a Gator. It was really good. It was real emotional. I think that you can easily measure investment in something like that. That was real special. There are some special guys on this team as you can imagine. Some guys it's the last time they'll play college football. Because obviously, tomorrow we don't do anything and Monday we play the game. Some of those seniors won't play in the game and obviously other ones will be the last time that they wear that orange helmet. It was a great day. A great thing."

Did some of the young guys talk?

"Yeah, the coach talks about the senior and a young guy talks about the senior and the impact they've had, and that's good. It was really good."

Does it get any easier for you through the years that you've been coaching seeing guys play their last game?

"You hate to say this, but it's like John Wooden said and I read that book and here's a guy that won ten national championships in a row and it will never be done again. You can't do that nowadays. Early in the book it talked about when he was a young coach he just hated and had trouble getting up in the morning because he liked certain players better than others. That's just the way it is. You like those guys that go to class. You like those guys that live right and you like those guys that make your program better. It's the same thing when you do something like that. There are some guys that you'd lay across the railroad tracks for. There are a bunch of them in that senior class."

How are you guys spending New Year's?

"We're going to have a six o'clock dinner and I'm going to let them spend time with their families. We're not really going to do much, because curfew is eleven o'clock and a lot of these guys get to bed. Hopefully, a lot of them get to bed, but I'm going to let them stay up until midnight and do what they've got to do …wave or wear a hat or something and go to bed."

You do all of the bed checks personally don't you?

"Yeah, I just think that it's important to do that. I've done that all of the time."

What will you do for New Year's?

"I'll probably go to sleep, set the alarm and wake up and go do bed check. I'm not a very exciting person."

There was an NFL mentality with the last staff. Basically, do what you want to and come play on Saturday. You are more of a father figure. Talk about your approach to college football.

"Yeah, I think there's too much credit given to guru's on offense and defense and who the geniuses are and I think that it has a very minimal effect on how you do things. If that were the case than it would be simply go run that same offense, because that's how you win. And that's not how you win. On fourth down and one, it's not the play you design it's how much those eleven guys care about each other if you can get that first down. I know one thing, if I know who you are and I respect you then I'm going to go a lot harder for you and that includes any one of you people. Same thing as a coach. If you're tight with a player then I anticipate that player will go harder for you and you'll go harder for that player. That's kind of the way that I was raised, the Earle Bruce mentality I learned when I was at Ohio State. Because when I played, it wasn't that way. I played at the University of Cincinnati. It was that way in high school and I thought after playing college that I guess college is not like high school, but that's not true. Great college programs are just like high school."

Do you feel good about where this coaching staff is or will you be tempted to tweak things after the season?

"I haven't had time. I'm going to certainly evaluate everything, but I do feel pretty good about this coaching staff. I feel very good about the work ethic and the character of it. Now, there are some fundamental issues that we have to get a lot better. All that you've got to do is watch the tape. We're not a clean team. But, we're first year. Defensively, we're fairly a clean fundamental team. But, offensively we're not at all. We're going to certainly tweak how we do things."

When did you realize that the triple option element of the offense was not going to be something that you would be able to rely on every game?

"I started seeing that a little early in the year and then when we lost the wideouts that kind of put an exclamation point on us to be careful what we're doing. That certainly will not be eliminated in the offense, but we'll have to be creative. I still believe the fastest team wins most of the time. You get a little toughness and speed, it's hard to lose. It really is. So, how do you take advantage of speed? I think one of the ways to take advantage of speed is to have an element of option and bring one of those fast guys around. When you don't have those fast guys it's not quite as dynamic. Were going to hopefully, saturate this place with some of those fast guys and have that option element in there."

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