Looking to the Veterans

The task that stands in front of the Gators this weekend may not look difficult on paper, but there are many more things to consider besides stats and talent. Urban Meyer will be taking a large group of freshmen and sophomores who will be making their first starts on the road in the SEC.

Tim Tebow showed to be more than competent in his first conference start in the Gators' rout of Tennessee last weekend. But Tebow now takes his game to Oxford where the Gators haven't won since 1994.

"To show you how young this team is, Chris Rainey comes up to me and asks me how does this travel stuff work," Urban Meyer said after Tuesday's practice. "'Do we leave the day before the game?' I said, ‘yes, we leave the day before the game.'"

It may sound funny, but Meyer wasn't laughing. The Gators are coming off a huge win and face a struggling Ole Miss team. All the ingredients are present for a possible letdown. Meyer is hoping a tough week of practice will keep the team focused for the weekend.

"You have the hardest Tuesday in the country," Meyer said. "There wasn't a whole lot of talk about the Tennessee game out there today. That's the only way I know how to do it."

The Gators will follow it up with a difficult Wednesday.

"We're going to have a really hard Wednesday practice," Meyer said. "We're dealing with 18-19 year old children. You can't do anything beyond what has an impact on winning or losing the game, and that's take care of the football and play good defense."

In Florida's last trip to Ole Miss, the Rebels upset the then No. 6 ranked Gators 17-14. Current Ole Miss quarterback Seth Adams, who may miss Saturday's game with a sore shoulder, was at that game and remembers the excitement as the fans tore down the goal posts after the game.

"That's old history," Meyer said. "We're just trying to get through Tuesday's practice."

And Tuesday wasn't a good one for Meyer.

"The effort was okay," Meyer said. "I wasn't pleased at all."

Relying on the Vets

For the first road trip of the season, Meyer will rely on the veterans to prepare the younger players.

"I'm looking more for the Drew Millers and the Jim Tartts, those kinds of guys," Meyer said. "I'm looking for guys that have played a lot of football. Tony Joiner and Derrick Harvey have to help out on defense."

Meyer knows all too well how tough it is to win on the road in the SEC. He went 1-3 on the road in SEC games during his first year in Gainesville and lost to Auburn on the road last season.

"You have to pack your toughness and pack your defense and we can't do that without our older players," Meyer said. "I'm as worried about this team as I have been in a long time for this week."

An Outgoing Tebow

Tebow signed a few autographs after Tuesday's practice, something that has become a normal routine for the sophomore quarterback. Tebow's outgoing personality is much different than Chris Leak who was much more introverted.

"I think [Leak] is such a good person," Meyer said. "I think he's a guarded person. He's been in the limelight for so long."

Meyer believes Tebow may soon become more guarded himself.

"At some point he will be," Meyer said. "Chris has been through a few more storms than Tim has. But I think at some point he'll be a little more guarded."

Quiet the Rumors

Meyer silenced any rumors about wide receiver Deonte Thompson. According to Meyer, the freshman is not looking to transfer out of Florida.

"I talked to Deonte and he says he loves it and is ready to go," Meyer said.

Thompsaon has yet to see any action in 2007, but Meyer said there's a lot of talented receivers in front of him and he would hate to waste a year for just a couple of plays.

"He's getting darn close," Meyer said. "He's at a position where there happens to be some pretty good players. I think he's going to be not just a good one, but a great player. I don't want to waste a year. I think Drew Miller played 15 plays. He needs another year, too. I wish we had another year. Phil Trautwein only played 30 plays. I don't want to do that. But if we have to do it, he's getting close to being ready to play."


  • True freshman and offensive guard Maurkice Pouncey who left Saturday's game with a knee sprain is still not practicing and remains questionable for Saturday. Redshirt freshman Maurice Hurt stepped in for Pouncey against the Vols.
  • Sophomore cornerback Markihe Anderson (knee) is doubtful for Saturday's game.
  • After getting a great game from defensive tackles Javier Estopinan and Clint McMillan, the Gators are also testing true freshman Carlos Dunlap at tackle. Said Meyer, "He did decent. He's a big body that can maybe knock the ball down or something. We're searching. Coach Mattison will find it."
  • Meyer said they are working on Dunlap's ability to stay down with his 6-6 frame, so he might only play inside on passing downs.

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