Monday Notebook: Meyer with Upbeat Attitude

While many expected concern from head coach Urban Meyer following the Gators' 20-17 loss to the Auburn Tigers, he was surprisingly upbeat in his attitude toward the team's progression. Much of that is due to a change in expectations from last year.

"We have a tremendous challenge going into this week," Urban Meyer said. "I have been asked how this compares to last year, and I think we are on a different planet than a year ago. Our whole intent to make sure that we get better and that is it. There is not going to be a big rally cry and have a bunch of slogans around here, it just has to get better."

The team's youth and development has inspired the coaches' confidence that they will continue to improve. It was reflected in the coaching staff's appraisal of the game tape. In all, twelve players graded out as champions, which is more than double last week's total.

"The only thing that matters is coming out today and having a good practice, not putting our caps on inside out for rally caps," Meyer said. "We have to get better. But I was really impressed when I started seeing names like Major Wright, Wondy Pierre-Louis, Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes. That is powerful stuff. There is not a lot of football played among those guys so that's pretty good."

Next week's game will likely provide an even greater test for the young team as they travel to Baton Rouge to face the No. 1 ranked LSU Tigers.

"The good thing is when I start reading off a bunch of young players who graded champions against Auburn, they have to prove it this week because we are playing probably one of the most talented teams in America," Meyer said. "I do not think I have seen any team more talented."

The game will go a long way in showing how the young team will respond to it's first bit of adversity.

"Every human being is measured when they get hit," Meyer said. "It is about how you react when you get hit square in the face and we got hit hard. That was a frontal shot at home."

Meyer's conference ended on a sobering note when he confirmed suspicions that senior tackle Phil Trautwein will probably not recover from injury in time to play this season. He should, however, be eligible for a medical redshirt.

Champions:

  • On defense, Javier Estopinan, Jermaine Cunningham, Major Wright, Wondy Pierre-Louis graded out as champions. Brandon Spikes was named defensive player of the game.

    "Javier Estopinan, who played his best football and it is great to see that," Meyer said. "He had that ACL surgery and was playing very well before he injured that a year ago and he's a great young guy who is playing very well. He had two tackles for a loss and for Javier that is excellent. Jermaine Cunningham played his best football as a Gator with a tackle for a loss and five assists. Major Wright played a very good game starting as a true freshman. He was 100 percent in opportunities of making a play in the back end, which is how you evaluate a secondary player. Wondy Pierre-Louis, a sophomore, was four of five making plays and played his best game so far."

  • Seven offensive players made the grade: Eric Rutledge, Kestahn Moore, Cornelius Ingram, Jim Tartt, Jason Watkins, Maurice Hurt and David Nelson. There was no offensive player of the game.

    "Eric Rutledge played well again," Meyer said. "We do not ask him to do a lot other than block, but he does a great job for us. Kestahn Moore, who we need to get a little more touches to, graded out a champion."

    On LSU:

    "Since I've been here, it seems like that defensive line keeps plugging guys in there that are NFL football players," Meyer said. "They are the one team right now in the SEC that seems a little different every year. They lost four players to the first round last year, and lost some key guys the year before, so they have been able to recruit very well."

    On playing in Baton Rouge:

    "Well, the offense will work on the noise," Meyer said. "We've been there before, so we will work immediately on the noise issue. I haven't talked to the defense, because we are still trying to put the Auburn game to bed. But I hear our players talking about it and there's a lot of excitement to be able to go and do that."

    Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Blake Bonsack


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