Monday Notebook: Defensive Concerns

Concerns about the defense's performance against Western Kentucky were echoed during Monday's press conference. Having gone over the game tape, coach Urban Meyer talked about the coaching staff's evaluation.

"Our goal was to play great defense and I think we did statistically, not fundamentally," Urban Meyer said. "Statistically, we gave up 204 yards and a key stat was third downs, we held them two for 13 and we held them to 48 yards rushing and only 12 first downs."

Despite the lack of experience, the staff has very high expectations of the defense.

"The one thing that happens when you lead the nation in rushing defense and you play with the seniors that we had last year is that there is a certain standard that we are not going to change," Meyer said. "The young players have to live up to that standard, and they did not do that. Derrick Harvey did though and he was the defensive player of the game with two sacks, three assists and a forced fumble."

Meyer also said that Harvey was the only defensive player to grade out as a champion this week. The offense, however, had quite a few more.

"On offense we were a little better, but still have a long way to go," Meyer said. "It was good to see Drew Miller come out and play the way that he did in a new position. He is the apex of the offense and the guy who makes all the calls. I thought our tempo was about an eight out of a ten. Steve Rissler did a really good job for us last year and that guy sets the tempo of the game and sets the huddle and we made a big deal out of that."

"Jim Tartt is 100 percent healthy for the first time at Florida. His shoulders are fine and he is playing very well for us. David Nelson only played 13 plays but he graded out a champion. Tim Tebow was 13-of-17 and he graded a champion. Our player of the game was Bubba Caldwell who has improved his whole game. He also won the four to six second award as well."

Meyer also talked about playing the first game with so many new players and the necessity of establishing a routine.

"Especially with a young team, this was the first opportunity they had to play in a live situation," Meyer said. "I always make a big deal about our Orange and Blue Game because guys like Cam Newton got a little bit of his jitters out there. We have an advantage because we were plus-one where we get to see how some of the young guys can play. We had 14 true freshman play in this gam,e and of those 14, I am not sure how many played in the Orange and Blue Game, so that was their first live experience in their home stadium. You can say that jitters aren't involved, but they are. I have seen it for 20 years now."

"The video technology and the chance for coaches to get one under their belt is why coaches usually say that you see the biggest improvement between first and second games. Everyone is settled down now and they know their routine. They stayed in the hotel, got on the bus, did the Gator Walk, put on a shirt and tie, those are now routines."

The team is working hard on preparing for next week's game against the Troy Trojans who nearly beat the likes of Florida State and Louisiana State in recent years.

On playing a younger player over an older one:

"I know a lot of staffs have pulled that trigger really quick," Meyer said. "We don't do that here, especially if he's and invested player. There are certain guys when we got here that we pulled that trigger because we didn't feel like they were invested. Ultimately, our job is to win games. We're going to give a guy every opportunity to be successful. We have a saying that we'd rather you play later than too early. We'd rather them get settled in, because once you lose your confidence as an athlete it is hard to get back. I've seen it take years."

On how few of last year's players remained on NFL rosters:

"I am not in the NFL so I don't know what they are looking for," Meyer said. "But if they are looking for high character guys who believe in playing unselfish football then I am surprised. I wouldn't give up on those guys; the NFL is a hard deal. When the investment is not as high with people who aren't first rounders, teams have a tendency to cut them and bring them back. I didn't know that, but it says a lot about the kind of team we had last year."


  • Meyer said that there was no further update on John Brown's status with the team. His eligibility is still under review from the NCAA.
  • Markihe Anderson's status for next week looks good but the coaches and medical staff are being particularly cautious. They'll have a more definite answer on Wednesday.

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