Developing into a Passer

It's no secret that Tim Tebow's greatest strength is his running ability. But over the course of the season, Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Dan Mullen have seen Tebow develop his pocket passing skills.

With the nation's second best passer rating of 177.1, Tebow is completing 67.8 percent of his passes and has thrown 23 touchdowns against just five interceptions. Nearing the end of his second season, Urban Meyer said Tim Tebow is comparable to a Heisman Trophy finalist he used to coach – Alex Smith.

"He's becoming a much more polished pocket passer, and that's the hardest thing to learn," Meyer said after Wednesday's practice. "Having the God-given ability to scramble around and make plays, which he does, you either have it or you don't. But to sit around in a pocket and deliver the first touchdown pass on Saturday was a great example. We miss a block and he stands in there and hit it."

Last year, Chris Leak stood in the pocket during the national championship game against Ohio State and completed pass after pass. Meyer is seeing that same kind of poise form Tebow.

"Chris Leak became a great quarterback once he was able to do that," Meyer said. "That's the measuring stick when you can sit in the pocket and it's caving down and you can deliver the ball. That's where Tim is improving. All you have to do is watch his feet. If they're moving around back there then they're not comfortable and not confident."

The amount of playing time Tebow sees on Saturday against Florida Atlantic depends on how the game plays out, but Meyer is anxious to see freshman backup quarterback Cameron Newton. There hasn't been much discussion to playing Newton because of a sprained ankle, but he's healthy enough now that he could be in the mix for Saturday.

"Cam has had two excellent weeks of practice," Meyer said. "We haven't made any decision yet. We're having that conversation now, and it's not something we've had because he's been injured."

Harvin not well

Percy Harvin missed another practice on Wednesday, and Meyer is beginning to get concerned about his leading receiver.

"Percy was in the health center," Meyer said. "I went over and saw him. They had him hooked up to an IV. They're still trying to get him right. It's migraines – that's what they are telling me. He was not in good shape when I saw him."

Pouncey working out a bit

Offensive guard Maurkice Pouncey worked out a bit on Wednesday, but did not practice with the team. He suffered a high ankle sprain against South Carolina.

"He didn't practice but we did have pads on him and he was moving around," Meyer said. "I think we might have him on Saturday. He's a tough guy."

Pouncey's backup is Maurice Hurt, but he too is hurting. He has a sore shoulder, but Meyer hopes one of them is ready for Saturday. Marcus Gilbert is the next one down the depth chart should both of them be out.

Pay-per-view for Saturday

Saturday's matchup with Florida Atlantic will be broadcast live on pay-per-view. A full offering of cable networks that will be airing the game can be viewed at Gatorzone.com.

Notes

  • Meyer said Markus Manson has looked good since returning to the offensive backfield and said he wouldn't be surprised if he sees action on Saturday.
  • Meyer believes Florida Atlantic has the talent to stick with the Gators. Said Meyer, "I always look at the talent level. This team has excellent talent. I compare them a lot to Troy. They're going to play Troy for the conference championship. I think it's good for the state. I just want to win the darn game."
  • The Gators will be pulling for Kentucky over Georgia on Saturday. The Gators have played both. Said Meyer, "I think they're both excellent teams. They were both teams that were ranked very high. Georgia is ranked real high right now. They both have great quarterbacks and I think it'll be a great game."

    Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski


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