UF Turns Attention to Vandy

After Florida's win against Georgia, head coach Urban Meyer said there would be a lot of champions, and he was right. The Gators excelled in every phase of the game against the Dawgs, but it's over and focus now turns to Vanderbilt.

Eleven offensive players graded out as champions for the Gators in their nearly perfect performance against Georgia. Tim Tebow, both Pounceys, Phil Trautwein, Jason Watkins, Louis Murphy, Riley Cooper, Aaron Hernandez, Jeff Demps and Emmanuel Mooday all earned champion status. Even though his stats weren't what they normally are in big games, Percy Harvin was named the offensive player of the game.

"He's got the best first step in college football," Meyer said during his Monday press conference. "His approach has changed. He had a little success early, and I don't know if that hurt him and his preparation."

The same was the case for the defense. Ahmad Black, Joe Haden, Major Wright, Will Hill, Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham, Carlos Dunlap, Justin Trattou and Dustin Doe were all champions. Terron Sanders was the player of the game after returning a fumble 20 yards to set up a Gator touchdown.

"I considered him a recruiting mistake his first year and a half," Meyer said. "Dan McCarney was good for him. The maturation process takes a couple years. He's right on track and he's got two years left. He had a nice spin move I guess. He's doing much better right now."

Sanders isn't the only one to make a big leap. Linebacker A.J. Jones is also improving his status with the coaching staff.

"He's a quality guy who is a product of a very good program," Meyer said. "He's come a long way, not just maturity and strength, but as a grown man."

One of the major keys to Saturday's big win was field position. The Gators average start was at the 50 while Georgia's average start was at the 21-yard line. They started seven times inside their own 20-yard line. It's a testament to good defense and good special teams play.

Defensively, Meyer is seeing a big improvement.

"They stopped Moreno and eight guys in the picture were in white pants and jerseys," Meyer said. "Last year the guy would have hit him and made some gesture to the crowd. This year they're celebrating with the team."

Meyer said the improvement on defense stems from the competition between starting spots.

"Last year we had a bunch of guys that got to third base without getting a hit," Meyer said. "We had guys starting that had no business playing for Florida. They should have been backups. This year we have a lot of competition, so practice is a lot more important. If you don't perform well in practice, you're not playing. It's very competitive. The players are buying in and going really hard because if they don't practice well they don't play."

There's been a big improvement in the secondary play as well. Florida picked off four passes on Saturday and returned two of them a long way.

"We're playing off more and playing more zone," Meyer said. "I think a lot of the turnovers are because we're playing off a little more."

Last year, Florida primarily played bump-and-run. They didn't think they could teach two different styles of play, but cornerback coach Vance Bedford has experience doing that.

"The two coaches realized it," Meyer said. "They're very coachable. There's not a guy in the secondary that's defiant. Today is their day off and they're coming to do some film work on their own. We've recruited pretty well."

Florida now turns it's sights to Vanderbilt. With a win in Nashville, the Gators clinch their second trip to Atlanta and the SEC Championship in three years

"It's the best Vandy team we've every gone against," Meyer said. "They started 5-0. They're in second place in the SEC East and I'd say they're the second best team in the SEC East. Their middle linebacker, I think he's the best in the league. They're a bowl team."

Notes

  • Meyer addressed the foot injury to Tim Tebow saying that he was fine.

  • Just before taking the podium, Meyer learned that Phillip Fulmer would not return to Tennessee in 2009. Said Meyer, "Injuries are a horrible part of this profession. It's a tough part of the game."

  • Meyer said Butch Rowley who covered up the onsides kick on Saturday is a valuable member to the team. Said Meyer, "I've known him for about 15 years. He transferred from Utah. We put him on scholarship this year. He keeps the tone of the team. I ask him a lot how the team's doing. Him receiving that onsides kick, he'll never forget that. That's his world."

  • Meyer said Emmanuel Moody's insertion not until the third quarter was a combination of his ankle injury and the depth chart. Said Meyer, "He's still a little gimped. He's just got to earn that spot right back. The other guys are playing a little better. I though he did great. I saw energy and toughness. He's what we thought he would be. He's just had that ankle sprain."


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