Chemistry a Focus for the Spring

Good enthusiasm, but ugly football. That's the way Urban Meyer described Florida's first day of spring practice. But that's what the head coach expected, so overall it was a good first workout.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was on hand for the Gators first workout of the spring. The most notable difference was the amount of players Florida now has at every position. The numbers exist to have full depth charts, but whether those numbers turn to reliable players is what Urban Meyer and the coaching staff hope to find out over the next two and a half weeks.

The biggest challenge for Meyer this spring is buildig team chemistry. There are a lot of new faces and a lot of old faces are gone. But last week team went on a paint ball excursion to help build unity.

"It's amazing what we're dealing with," Meyer said. "You throw on your iPod, bopping your head around. You throw on your practice gear and head to practice. You get done and throw back on your iPod, punch a couple texts through your phone and then leave. How are you going to grow chemistry on a team like that? We're really going to attack the chemistry. Not that we had bad chemistry last year, but it wasn't great. It is one of our goals this spring."

Meyer said the chemistry of the national championship team was great, but last year they weren't at that level. He said he doesn't think he'll go as far as banning iPods from the locker room, but cell phones are discouraged.

"I'm going to talk to them about being grown men. We don't want cell phones around, and I'll encourage communication," he said. "Just try to get communication going. All around campus you see these white things in your ears and that means you don't have to talk to anyone."

New Guys on Campus

Several new Gators are on campus, including wide receiver Carl Moore, defensive tackle Troy Epps, cornerbacks Jeremy Brown and Janoris Jenkins, defensive end Earl Okine, offensive tackle Matt Patchan and linebacker Brendan Beal.

"It was his (Carl Moore) first day in practice so he's going to be nervous and make mistakes and he did," Meyer said. "But he showed great enthusiasm and great effort. Earl Okine was the same way. The two new corners were the same way and Troy Epps, too. They were flying around and that's all that I want to see on the first day."

Jenkins and Brown struggled a bit, but it was expected on day one.

"There's the mental stress and the speed just rocks people's world," Meyer said. "I love Janoris Jenkins and Jeremy Brown. They haven't missed a class and haven't been on a list. They got blown away in one-on-ones but they'll get better."

Notes

Meyer said that Brandon Spikes has done everything they've asked him to do in the offseason. He also singled out Louis Murphy and Phil Trautwein taking strong leadership roles during the offseason. … The NCAA adjusted the play clock, adopting the NFL's 40-second play clock for most situations. Meyer said they'll work on the new time clock in the second half of spring practice. Although he does not like time rules, he is in favor of the new rule that makes all face mask penalties 15 yards. Said Meyer, "When you talk about screwing up the clocks for TV, I'm opposed to that. But player safety, I'm okay with that." … Meyer said the loss to Michigan has helped the team get a chip back on their shoulder. Said Meyer, "I saw changes in the offseason from the head coach to the assistant coaches to everyone. [The loss to Michigan] was a hard one to swallow, but it was probably needed. When you lose a chip on your shoulder, you're not very good. We won those four games at the end of the season, and we started to lose that chip on our shoulder."

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


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