Gators Inch Closer to Gameday

During game week preparations, Urban Meyer does his best to ensure the Florida Gators reach their peak performance on Saturday. But it's a delicate job, especially during Tennessee week, which is filled with energy, excitement and emotion.

This year is a little different because of the number of Gators that will make their first appearance in the SEC East showdown. Urban Meyer could take the ‘it's just another game' approach, but he's choosing a different route.

"I want them to be excited," Meyer said after Wednesday's practice. "I want them to hyperventilate a little bit. I want them gasping for air and playing as hard as they can. That's going to happen. It happened in the first game against Western Kentucky, but in this one, the atmosphere is going to be just a touch different."

Meyer also doesn't want his team to be too uptight. To prevent that, he's being very careful about the way he handles the emotions of his team during the week of practice, and he usually has his former boss, Lou Holtz, reminding him not to be too tough on his guys.

"Before Thursday, you don't have to be feeling good about yourself yet," Meyer said. "Tomorrow, when I'm walking off this field, this team has got to be feeling great about themselves."

Not only do the Gators need to be confident on Saturday, but they also need to be mentally ready.

"When the play is called, and they're running to the line of scrimmage thinking about their assignment, there's a good chance that when you face a good opponent you'll fail because you're not reacting," Meyer said. "We had too much of that today."

Overall, Meyer hasn't been pleased with his team's practice effort this week, calling them sluggish.

"We got some more work to do," Meyer said. "We're facing a good team."

Home field advantage

Meyer's streak of consecutive wins at The Swamp was extended to 17 games after defeating Troy last weekend. The Gators are undefeated at home in Meyer's two-plus seasons, and that home field advantage was a big reason why Meyer came to Florida.

"One of the reasons why I really wanted to come here was because of that stadium," he said. "I sat and watched them wanting to be there in the 90s."

Back then, The Swamp was one of the toughest places to play in all of college football, and Meyer is hoping to get it back to that point, urging fans to wear blue on Saturday.

"That stadium is different," Meyer said. "I think it's different than any other stadium in the country. In the 90's, I don't know if it was the most difficult, but it had to be in the top-three."

It's because of his respect for The Swamp that Meyer has only held one practice in the stadium since his arrival.

"You don't go in there and start scrumming around," he said. "When the kids go in there, they know it's business."

Meyer hopes the Gators feel the same away about their home turf.

"I'd be disappointed if they didn't say it's the greatest stadium in college football," he said. "I know they enjoy playing in it."

When he coached at Utah, Meyer said they often practiced in their home stadium when the weather was bad because of its artificial surface.

Win one for Bubba and Traut

Phil Trautwein (foot) and Andre Caldwell (knee) will be missed when the Gators take the field on Saturday, but they won't be forgotten. Their teammates are hoping to win one for the seniors.

"It's great," Meyer said. "Those guys love each other. Obviously, Andre Caldwell has earned a lot of respect and for them to go hard, I think that's admirable."

Meyer said it is definitely difficult not to have your teammates on the field during such an important game.

"You're talking about going into battle against a very good team, and we have Bubba Caldwell and Phil Trautwein out," Meyer said. "Those are extremely invested football players. They know it's a guy that has given a lot to play and when they're not there, it's a hard thing as a coach and an even harder deal as a player."

Notes

  • Meyer said he didn't pay a whole lot of attention to Markihe Anderson in practice, but said he heard he did well despite a knee injury. Anderson is expected to return to his starting cornerback role against the Vols.
  • After directing some harsh criticism towards the backup offensive line on Tuesday, Meyer singled out a few guys that had good days. Said Meyer, "I saw Carl Johnson do a little better today. Marcus Gilbert did better today."
  • Defensive end Carlos Dunlap blocked his first career punt on Saturday, and standing at 6-6 with a 35-inch vertical, he's sure to get his hands on a few more throughout his career. Said Meyer, "That's a different dude. He's working hard in school. We had our academic meeting today, and he's got a lot of good stuff going on. He's got a bright future here. He's a freak. He can do a lot of things that other guys can't do."
  • The New England Patriots are under investigation for possibly using video to steal their opponent's signals. Meyer said looking for signals is part of the game. Said Meyer, "We always look. We don't video it."
  • Meyer's biggest concern when it comes to other teams stealing his signals is with the defense. Said Meyer, "I worry about it all the time, but our coaches do a good job of changing things up. There's been a few games where we've gotten the signals and you have an advantage."


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