Dealing with the Florida Sun

It's like clockwork every summer. The temperature and heat index always seem to go up when the Gators take the practice field, and that has the University of Florida taking the hot temperatures very seriously.

Meyer said it can be frustrating at times. On Wednesday, quarterback Bryan Waggener and Jim Tartt had to sit out because of heat exhaustion, but better safe than sorry.

"I'm scared to dearth of it (heat)," Meyer said. "I kind of thought I was a tough guy, but then I came down here my first year and during two-a-days it did a mess on me, too. We're smart about it. We practice from 6-8 p.m. during this acquisition period. We have the finest group of trainers in the country."

The University as a whole takes the Florida heat very seriously and puts no boundaries on protecting its players.

"There's no budget for Gatorade," Meyer said. "The trainers actually have something they can put on the player's stomach to measure their body temperature, so I can't imagine a program anywhere in the country that takes it any more serious than we do."

It didn't always used to be that way. Water used to be considered a sign of weakness on the football field, but times have changed.

"My first year at Bowling Green we had a trainer who during an offseason workout with guys running all around I give them a water break and there's no water," Meyer said. "He says coach, ‘we haven't used water in 27 years.' I said you got 36 seconds or your 27 years are over. That's the old school of thought."

Meyer said the Gators don't fool around with the heat.

"If you see any type of heat related illness, that's it they're done," he said. "It's not get tougher. It's not like an ankle sprain where we send them into the pit to encourage them to get back to practice."

Protecting Tebow

It was hard to find a magazine in North Florida during the summer months that didn't have a picture of Tim Tebow on it. The hype surrounding the sophomore who has yet to start a game can wear on an athlete over time, but the Gators are managing Tebow very carefully.

"Dan Mullen's very good at it," Meyer said. "He's dealt with it at a different level at Utah with Alex Smith. I think Chris Leak dealt with this hype. I think now it's maybe a different level, but Tebow is a very mature guy from a very mature family. We're going to protect him a little bit. I can see Dan doing that already."

The problem is Tebow is too nice, and in the first week of practice, tried to stop running on pavement so he could sign an autograph and ended up slipping and falling down.

"He can't say no," Meyer said.

No More Flat-lines

There is always a long list of players that for whatever reason don't improve over long periods of time. Offensive tackle Phil Trautwein used to be one of those guys, but now he's one of the Gators' best linemen.

Meyer listed several reasons for why guys don't improve over time, including a resistance to coaching, lack of practice tempo, coaches saying they're not good enough, not enough reps, recruiting mistakes or poor teaching. Most of the reasons Meyer dismissed as not real reasons, but believes resistance to coaching is a real reason.

"He's (Trautwein) bought into it," Meyer said. "He was a flat-liner for two years. I think you saw that change because he was resistant to coaching. Every player you see like that – Louis Murphy, Dorian Munroe – for some reason they resisted coaching."

Matching the Trojans

There have been some similarities between the Gators and the USC Trojans over the last couple of years - National Championships and top-rated recruiting classes. But the Trojans have managed to maintain it year after year and it's something Meyer wants to do in Gainesville.

"I admire USC," he said. "I don't know them, and they seem like a different country. One thing they've done is reloaded year after year. We've tried to do that, and it's hurt us a little because we have had two excellent recruiting classes. It's well documented and after having them, I can say it's legit."

After the No. 2 class in 2006 and the No. 1 class in 2007, Meyer is finding it tougher on the recruiting trail this year.

"USC does a good job," Meyer said. "How do they recruit top tailbacks when they have seven of them? They sell the fact of competition. Some of these young people look to take the easier road. How they do that, I'm still trying to learn how."

There's one thing Meyer has that the Trojans don't, though, and that's a bigger pool of talent.

"They're more national than we are," Meyer said. "We're more regional than they are. It tells you a little bit of the caliber of football in the South. USC is coming here. We're not going out there to recruit. They're coming down here, and that's a testament to the caliber of athlete in the South."

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