"You can try as hard as you want to, but you can't replace Jarvis Moss and Reggie Nelson," Meyer said. "It's not going to happen. We can sit here and moan and complain, or maybe our punt block team can play a little better."
That's the Gator philosophy heading into the season that is just 11 days away. While questions remain on a young defense, Meyer continues to search for players that can improve units of last year's team that didn't perform as well as he would have liked.
"To sit here and complain, our coaches don't do that," Meyer said. "Some other phase of the football team is going to have to pick it up because [the defense] is obviously going to take a little bit of time to get it back to where it was. The challenge is out. For instance, our kickoff return team last year wasn't ranked very high, so we've spent an enormous amount of time on that because that has to pick up the slack."
As Meyer looks to improve the kick return team, he also needs to strategize for the new kickoff rule that takes effect this season, moving kickoffs from the 35 to the 30-yard line. The kicker race is still hot, but senior Joey Ijjas has the upper hand. Walk-on freshman Jordan Means from Hoover (Ala.), however, is looking good as well. "Means is pretty good," Meyer said. "Jonathan Phillips hasn't gone because he has a hyper-extended knee. He should go pretty soon, but Ijjas has kind of separated himself."
As for the rest of the kickoff unit, Meyer is looking for the best combination of players to cope with the new rule.
"We're trying to find the best personnel we can," he said. "I just read about LSU's returner, and he's a 10.02 100-meters, and 10.5 is real fast, so 10.02 tells you how fast he is. I'm not sure how much you can change. I know some say you can sky kick more. If you sky kick, you're handing them the ball at the 30-yard line, so I'm not sure that's the answer. I think it will be better execution and how good the players are."
Making the Move
A few offensive players are making the move up the depth chart, or at least solidifying their current positions. Redshirt freshman Chevon Walker has shown brilliance at times during practice, but his consistency hasn't been always been there.
"He can't handle much praise, but he's one of our most improved players," Meyer said. "I'm going to get him involved in special teams early in the year and see how he plays, but I enjoy having him around."
For Walker, Meyer said he is realizing that the Gators are not short on talent, so he needs to make his move.
"This train is going real fast and if he doesn't jump on it this year then he's not going to be a part of it," Meyer said.
One of the deepest units on the team is the receiving corps, and on Tuesday, another pair of receivers had big days.
"Riley Cooper had a great day," Meyer said. "He scored two long touchdowns in the two-minute drill. David Nelson had a very good day today. Those are two names that in the last year have been non-factors other than Cooper on special teams."