Sunday Notes

There's an old adage that says that football teams tend to make their biggest improvement from week one to week two. Now that the young Florida Gators have gotten their feet muddy in The Swamp, it's time to get to work. And Troy is not a team that is going to hide from the Gators.

Troy came within a touchdown of Florida State last season and hung with Arkansas for a half during yesterday's 46-26 loss to the Razorbacks. Still, Urban Meyer is concerned about his team's focus with Tennessee looming on the horizon.

"We're going to fight like crazy not to let that happen," Meyer said during his Sunday morning teleconference. "But we're dealing with a lot of young players who think they have all the answers and maybe some coaches who think they have all the answers. We're going to do our best. I saw that Troy game against FSU last year. I know what kind of athletes they have, and I know that we're not very good right now at certain positions."

What positions are the Gators weak at? It's too early for Meyer to determine that because he doesn't evaluate the game film until later this afternoon, but he knows there are some weak areas just by watching yesterday's game.

"I talked briefly with coach Heater and he said technique we're not very good [in the secondary], but try hard, we're very good," Meyer said. "He said Joe Haden was solid, and Major Wright, they are very excited about. Wondy Pierre-Louis is a guy that needs to improve."

Special teams and the defensive tackles need some improvement as well.

"The interior of our defensive line, we need to make vast improvements," Meyer said. "On special teams, we left a lot punt return yardage out on the field."

Punt returner Brandon James and defensive tackle Lawrence Marsh did not suit up for Saturday's game, but both can make instant impacts on the d-line and punt return teams next week.

"Lawrence Marsh has a great body type," Meyer said. "He has not played a lot of football here at Florida. He's got to learn to keep it on 10 at all times. We're going to find out this week because he's a guy that we could use."

Another guy the Gators could use is their best corner, Markihe Anderson, who sat out on Saturday because of a sprained knee. Anderson told Meyer he's playing against Troy.

"We'd love to have him because they are going to come in and throw that thing all over the field," Meyer said.

Jacques Rickerson may be another guy who can contribute.

"Rickerson is one of the more improved players on our team," Meyer said. "I think he'll help out as well. Maybe not as much as Marsh immediately, but certainly down the road."

The status of Phil Trautwein, who is out with a stress fracture in his foot, is still unknown, but Meyer said it could be a season-ending injury. Talented freshman offensive guard James Wilson is getting closer to practicing, and the Gators need all the bodies they can get with Traut's injury.

"We felt Maurkice Pouncey played hard," Meyer said. "He made some errors. Marcus Gilbert is a guy who is staring to come up a little bit. It is what it is. If Traut can't go for the rest of the year then we're gong to have to develop Gilbert. Right now, Gilbert and Carl Johnson should be much more advanced, and Maurice Hurt, than where they are. I'm disappointed right now on that, and they're all dealing with injuries, but it's time."

Rutledge Staying Trim

While the Gators can't get enough weight onto freshman tailback Chris Rainey, senior Eric Rutledge is another story. The fullback has earned a starting role as the lead blocker for whoever is in at tailback, but he's got some competition.

"He's in a battle for his job," Meyer said. "There are guys named Aaron Hernandez and Tate Casey right behind him that want that job really bad. But Rutledge is tough. He's a very good lead man and he's becoming a little better football player."

Rutledge's playing time could be based on him keeping his weight down.

"Last year he was over 250-pounds and he looked like it running around," Meyer said. "He's right around 240, and if he doesn't stay around 240 you won't see him on the field."

Meyer did say it was Rutledge who missed a block that allowed Western Kentucky to pressure Chas Henry on his first punt attempt.

Play action to himself

The Gators have a different sort of play action play than most teams in the country. Tim Tebow's stutter-step out of the shotgun is meant to do the same as a traditional play action play with a tailback.

"That's a big part of our play action pass," Meyer said. "What you try to do is freeze the linebackers and freeze the safeties for a moment. It's the same thing he did against LSU last year. He's such a threat that you have to honor it."

But Tebow's debut as a starter revolved around his left arm, which was impressive throughout his 13-of-17, 300-yard performance.

"He wound the ball up last year," Meyer said. "If you watched, he was a baseball pitcher a little bit, but this year he's a lot more smooth. Another thing is Tim is a much more balanced passer now. Instead of riffling that thing and coming off the mound like Nolan Ryan, he finishes much more balanced. Chris Leak, when he was throwing well, was very balanced, so was Alex Smith."


  • Meyer's theme for the year is to go as hard as you can for 4-6 seconds. He and strength coach Mickey Marotti are creating a weekly award. Said Meyer, "[It's] for those guys that hit that switch for 4-6 seconds. It's going to be an elite award given to the guys like Derrick Harvey, those types of players that have the tendency to go hard from the beginning of the play to the end."
  • The Gators took advantage of Western Kentucky's weakness at corner, but don't expect that kind of vertical passing game every week. Said Meyer, "It all depends on what they're giving you. Normally every pass play has a downtown throw, a middle throw and a dump. As much as I like to see us launching the ball down the field, it depends who we're playing."
  • Joe Haden played well considering it was his first start at cornerback at any level. Although, Meyer is tempted to run the freshman at wide receiver, but don't look for it anytime soon. Said Meyer, "We want to be one of the fastest teams in America and he's one of the fastest kids in America. He'd probably be fifth, sixth or seventh for us on offense. He's No. 2 with our corners and every young person wants to play. I think he's got a career on defense. ... Every ounce and fiber in his body is dedicated to defense."

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