Select Gators Stepping Up

He didn't get off to the greatest of starts, and he had to switch from offense to defense, but early enrollee Matt Patchan has made an impression on Urban Meyer. And he's just one of the guys making a push for playing time in the fall during spring practice.

About a week ago, Urban Meyer moved Matt Patchan from offensive tackle to the defensive side of the line. The talented freshman from Seffner Armwood High School came to Florida because he wanted to play on both sides of the ball, and in the last week, he's made progress towards that goal. Patchan has spent time at both defensive end and defensive tackle and even ran with the first teamers during Wednesday's third-and-long scrimmage.

"Matt Patchan, he's playing," Meyer said. "I don't know if he'll be a three technique, a five technique, a defensive end or an offensive linemen, but Matt's going to play. To do the things that he's doing and has not had an offseason because he's been hurt, I'm really impressed with him."

Patchan's not the only one who has caught Meyer's attention this week. Tailback Emmanuel Moody has been criticized by Meyer for not fully knowing the offense among other things, but the USC transfer had a good day on Friday.

"Emmanuel Moody had a good day today," Meyer said. "He didn't have a great day running the ball, but in pass protection he stuck his nose out there."

Meyer also pointed out that both Cameron Newton and John Brantley will be good players in the future.

Wilson staying in Gainesville

Offensive guard James Wilson said after Friday's practice that he's definitely staying in Gainesville. Wilson, from St. Augustine High School, had considered transferring to Wake Forest after sitting out all of last season with bad knees. He's been more active this spring and said he feels like he's more of a part of the team.

"I haven't asked," Meyer said. "I've just been letting him go. If you have good kids in your program then things usually work out, and we have good kids in our program. With the Phil Trautweins of the world and the Duke Lemmens and Justin Trattous, some of those young guys really helped him out."

Wilson said he will participate in next week's Orange and Blue Game and expects to play on the second team offensive line.

Sort of on schedule

With one week and four practices before the spring game, Meyer said the Gators need to have a good scrimmage on Saturday to stay on track.

"Wednesday we were on schedule, but we took a step back today, and I knew we would," Meyer said. "I gave them a day off yesterday because Wednesday was one of the hardest practices we've ever had. I think Wednesday was one of the best practices we've had and we had to have it. If we come out and lay an egg tomorrow, then I'll be concerned. I don't think we will, and I challenged them. Tomorrow we have to have a good scrimmage. I don't care who wins or losses, I just want to see some fight and I didn't see that today."

Corners are alright

Both Meyer and co-defensive coordinator Charlie Strong agree that the cornerbacks may be the most improved unit on the team. The group took the bulk of the criticism for last year's mediocre defense, although Meyer said he didn't put the blame on them.

"It gets very easy to start blaming corners," he said. "Sometimes people do that, but I don't blame the corners. My job is to come up with a solution and to just sit there and blame corners, that's not acceptable, so we didn't do that. I think our corners are our most improved area. Is it because of something? Yeah, they were all freshmen. Now they are sophomores with game experience."

Meyer passed some of the cornerback issues on the defensive line.

"I think our pass rush was very inadequate and as a result we gave up far too many plays down field," he said. "I'd have to say the back end has improved more than the front end."

Notes

  • Percy Harvin will undergo surgery on his heel on Monday. The Gator wide receiver was walking around practice on Friday and signed a few autographs, but he'll fly up to North Carolina to repair his sore foot. Foot specialist Robert Anderson will most likely do the surgery. Meyer said it's a very minor procedure with an eight week recovery time. He is expected to be full speed in June or July at the latest.
  • Just a few hundred yards from Gator practice, Gator football signee Jeff Demps ran a 10.17 100-meter in the Florida Relays. It's reported to be the fastest time in the nation and third in the world. Meyer said the news spread throughout practice. Said Meyer, "I made a couple comments to some guys. I know how to coach a guy that runs a 10.17. And if I don't, I'll figure that out real fast."
  • Meyer's former mentor Lou Holtz was at the Gator practice on Friday. Said Meyer, "He just shared his experience. I think players enjoy talking to someone who's won a national championship and watches and witnesses football all the time. His final thought was - for us to have a chance, our seniors have to play their best year of football. If they do that they have a chance."

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


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