Meyer Looking to Send Seniors off Right

The Citadel may be the next team up for Florida, but Urban Meyer isn't letting the Gators take anyone for granted. Not only will Saturday's game be important to keep the momentum going as the Gators head into Tallahassee and then to Atlanta for the SEC Championship, but he also wants to make sure the Gators send the seniors out right.

The Gators graduate 21 seniors this season, and depending how the season plays out, it could rank with the most decorated classes in Florida history. With a team that Meyer has praised in recent weeks for their professionalism, he hasn't had to provide much lip service this week.

"I don't think they're ignorant," Meyer said after Wednesday's practice. "If they're ignorant then I have to say this is a really important game. It's a very important game and it's the last home game for our seniors."

There are lots of stories surrounding this year's class. One of them is Javier Estopinan who's come back from three knee surgeries just so he could be a part of this year's squad.

"He's a high-character tough guy," Meyer said. "He's got a great mom and dad. He loves Florida. He's getting a graduate degree. He's got his whole life worked out. That's why he came back because he thought this team would be pretty good and he wanted to be a part of it and contribute and he wanted to continue his education."

Earlier in the week, Meyer talked about running back Kestahn Moore who started his very first game in the Orange and Blue four years ago. Moore ranks high on Meyer's list, and Meyer thinks he can play at the next level.

"I think he's going to play in the NFL," he said. "He's one of the top five I've ever been around."

Thanks in part to the senior leadership, Meyer said this is one of the best teams he's been around.

"I just had a meeting with the core of our team," he said. "For people to say that we have a good team, 90 percent of the time it's BS. I've had very few good teams. I've had very good players, but very few good teams. This is a good team because we have a good core."

One thing that has separated this team from others, especially last year's, is its toughness. This year's team came back stronger than ever from the loss to Ole Miss and has fought through injuries and adversity.

"We run the spread option here and I remember saying it eight years ago, if anyone wants to call it basketball on grass, it's not," Meyer said. "We want to be extremely physical and have a physical offensive line. We want to have a hard-nosed defense and play physical on special teams. The whole staff is into it and more importantly the players are as well."

Meyer said a lot of the team's toughness comes from the difficult practices and offseason programs the Gators go through. But it all starts with the staff.

"You hire nine coaches that buy into the toughness," Meyer said. "There is no defensive line coach that's tougher than McCarney and Bedford and Strong. Our O-line coaches, Addazio and Hevesy. Those are tough coaches and they're hard on them. It's tough, and there are some players that have decided not to come here because of it. You have mat drills in February. Two-a-days are tough. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are tough."

The three new coaches on the staff have adjusted well to say the least. The defensive line, running backs and cornerbacks have all made big gains this season.

"It's also growth of people and growth of personnel, but all three of those guys have done a good job for us," Meyer said.

In recent weeks, it's been the defensive line that has really improved.

"I envisioned a year older, but you have to give Dan a lot of credit," Meyer said. "Lawrence Marsh was not what he is today. The whole group is playing at a much higher level."

Meyer said that Carl Johnson who has a sprained MCL has been practicing and should go on Saturday. A.J. Jones is still hurting though and is questionable for Saturday.


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