Gators get to Work in Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. --- For the next six days, the Florida Gators will call Disney's Wide World of Sports home as they finalize preparations for next week's Capital One Bowl matchup with the Michigan Wolverines. The good news for Florida is that everyone made it back from the holiday break healthy. The bad news is that not everyone made it through practice completely healthy.

Wide receiver Percy Harvin sprained his right ankle after coming down on someone's foot during a two-minute drill, but head coach Urban Meyer isn't overly concerned about the incident.

"He sprained his ankle," Meyer said. "He should be fine though. We tapped it and he went back in there."

All in all, Meyer was very pleased with the Gators' approach after getting the last five days off to spend time with their families over Christmas.

"They're all in decent shape," Meyer said. "That's your biggest fear, but we ran them pretty good to get the Christmas out of them. They ran real good. They're attitudes are all good. They're all safe, sound and ready to go."

Their final week of practice was one of the best according to Meyer, so the Gators returned to Orlando starting from where they left off in Gainesville.

"Tomorrow will be a full-padded hard practice," Meyer said. "The week we had them before we sent them home we had a great week. Not a good week, but a great week. They're attitude was phenomenal. I was glad to see them come out today, and they knew we were going to come out running, but they were fine."

The Gators are treating this week like they would treat a regular season game week, so today was a lighter workout. But tomorrow's workout should be the equivalent of Florida's "Bloody Tuesday" game week practices.

Not your typical Big Ten team

Meyer wanted to refrain from comparing the Wolverines to a typical Big Ten team. He said this Michigan team possesses many of the characteristics of typical Big Ten teams but with a little extra something.

"Big Ten teams, especially the great ones, have the great strength, power and muscle and then combine that with speed," Meyer said. "I don't want to use that word typical because I think Michigan is a great team. They had some injuries on offense like we all had. Their primos on offense weren't healthy all year. They are tremendous players on film – that's Henne and Hart – those are probably all first-round draft picks. They're as good as any team in the country when they're all healthy."

The Gators will try to stop the talent on Michigan's offense with a defensive line that made huge strides at the end of the season. In Florida's final game of the season, they held Florida State to just 99 yards rushing.

"When you have a guy like Derrick Harvey who had a great practice today," Meyer said. "He comes out and he goes hard and sets the example for the other guys. When you have a problem with a position group, it's because the older players don't give a darn. We had some injuries in the middle of the season and guys like Lawrence Marsh are starting to get it, but when you have guys like Derrick Harvey, and I think Greg Mattison has done a heck of a job."

Harvey is one of two junior Gators who is considering making the jump to the NFL after the season. Depending on where Harvey and Cornelius Ingram grade out in the eyes of NFL scouts could determine the advice Meyer gives to them in regards to leaving school early.

"I just think the kind of money they're throwing around in the first round changes how you can look a kid in the eye," Meyer said. "You can tell them to come back and get a degree, but a first rounder that's different. And in the NFL they treat first-rounders differently, too."

Meyer learned at pro camps unless a player is a first round pick, the next level has little patience with those who don't have a completely polished game.

"If you're a fourth, fifth, sixth, you better know how to block or you're cut," Meyer said. "I remember going to a pro-camp once and they said tell me about the releases that you teach your receivers. The guy looked at me and said if they don't know that by then, we're cutting them. My advice to guys who are third- or fourth-rounders – you better come back and be good to go."

Ingram said he filed his paper work just to find out where he falls on that cut line.

"I filed the paperwork just to see where I'm at," Ingram said. "If it were to come back in that range I'd go, but if not, I can come back to school and continue to improve. I had a pretty good season and the coaches were cool with it, but there is no for sure answer about anything."

For now, however, Ingram is focusing on next week's game.

"I'm just trying to focus on Michigan as much as possible," he said. "I'm pretty sure the NFL is not going anywhere."

Notes

  • According to Meyer, there is no new news on safeties coach Doc Holliday's status in the West Virginia coaching search. Said Meyer, "I don't know. He didn't come up to me and say, ‘hey, by the way I'm the head coach at West Virginia.'"
  • Just because the Gators are close to home doesn't mean it gives them an advantage over the Wolverines. Said Meyer, "It's easier, but I don't know if it's an advantage for Florida or not. We did pretty good last year when we had to go across the country."
  • Tim Tebow is still showing little affect after being named the nation's top player. Said Meyer, "He's very level headed. He just goes out and tries to compete. He competed like Tom Brady there in the two-minute drill. But that's Tim Tebow."

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


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