Team Focused as Pounceys Deal With Emergency

The Florida Gators are preparing for their rival game with Florida State and the rest that the season has to offer. A huge unfortunate incident to the father of two of the Gators starting offensive linemen has come front and center this week. Mike and Maurkice Pouncey were still in Lakeland Tuesday night tending to their father as the Gators went on as much as possible with the task at hand.

According to sources, Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer, Offensive Line Coach Steve Addazio, and Defensive Coordinator Charlie Strong flew down to Lakeland last night after the Pouncey twins already made their way down during the day. Strong was the recruiting area coach for Lakeland and was big in the eventual signing of the twins back in February 2007.

The three made their way down to Lakeland on a night when they would usually be preparing hard for their rival game with Florida State. The Pounceys have meant a lot to this program in the last two years and their father and mother, Rob and Lisa Webster have been a huge part of the success of both of their kids.

Mr. Webster was hurt in a work related accident and his injuries are not made public at this time. The injury was serious enough to where Mr, Webster will remain hospitalized for quite some time, but he is reported in stable condition as of late Tuesday. Meyer refused to comment on the nature of the injury but did say they are doing what they can to help the family.

"Yeah, we went down there," Meyer said about the trip to Lakeland. "I talked to the family and out of respect of the family we will pray for them and take care of them. They are all part of our family and I'd rather not say anything else. At the appropriate time we'll talk about it."

The twins missed practice Tuesday still dealing with the accident, but Meyer expects them to be back on Wednesday.

"They are fine, they are doing great," Meyer said. "They didn't practice today."

Despite the bad news on the family of a couple of the players, Meyer said the practice session on Tuesday was "good". He said the team knows the importance of this game and there is no doubt that the Florida State rivalry is one they will never take for granted.

"It's November and we are competing for championships, we have good players, and a bunch of good people, he said. It doesn't get much better than this.

"It's a huge rivalry game and we approach it like we did Georgia. It's November and an in-state rival. They know it, and there is a sense of urgency here."

The injury situation just a day ago seemed much worse than it did on Tuesday. Meyer said that starting left guard Carl Johnson is "full go". He had good things to say about starting Sam linebacker A.J. Jones as well, "A.J. told me about 90% at practice today so that is good news."

Maybe the most concern comes from the interior of the defensive line where a barrage of injuries have sidelined a few players recently. Starting nose tackle Lawrence marsh left on the first play of the game Saturday with a sprained MCL, Meyer said that Marsh did not practice on Tuesday, but there was a "lot of hope" that Marsh will play on Saturday against the Seminoles intimating that is was likely he would play.

Meyer also had good news about Marsh's back up, junior Brandon Antwine. Antwine has been dealing with a serious back injury from last season that sidelined him and almost left him unable to walk. Meyer said Monday that Antwine wouldn't practice this week until Thursday, but instead he started back today in a limited role.

"He had a great day today too," Meyer said pf Antwine. "His attitude and I just love guys that overcome. He is up for some come back player of the year award. No one has asked for my vote, but I know who I would vote for. I hope they show pictures of what he went through and the severity of that. Brandon Antwine is a grown man.

"He practiced like a maniac. We talked about that, but they will keep him out of certain drills today and tomorrow but will go (both days)."

This will only be the Gators second road game against a team with a hostile crowd like Florida State will present on Saturday. The Gators could close on winning the mythical state championship by beating both FSU and Miami in the same year. Meyer said things like that are the farthest thing from his mind.

"We are just trying to find a way to get win number 11," Meyer said in response to a question about a state championship. "At some point we will have fun with that but certainly not at a Tuesday practice. We are going to go as hard as we can. One thing that does concern us is that this is an environment we have not had. The Tennessee environment was like this one, but I remember in the middle of the first quarter it wasn't, (because) we had a couple of big plays.

"Sustaining the tempo, playing with toughness and playing great defense and togetherness is how you win on the road. We are beating that up this week. That is real, all that other stuff isn't real."

One player the Gators will probably rely on as usual is junior super star athlete Percy Harvin. Harvin has rushed for 255 yards and two touchdowns in the last two seasons against the Seminoles. That includes limited time in the 2006 game when he left the game early with an injury. Harvin has done most of his damage on the ground rather than through the air against FSU, but Meyer says that is because it is what the Seminoles were giving the Gators at the time.

"He has that look in his eye again too, again," Meyer said intimating that Percy was fired up to play this game. "So much of what is called is what the defense is giving you. I made the comment earlier in the year, defenses are playing us in quarters coverage. You could drop back and throw it down field all you want, but there are two defenders right there. The offense executes off of what the defense gives us. Against LSU, we didn't say lets run the speed option for 140 yards, but the look was there, so Tim got us in the right play. If they give us a certain play and Percy is the designated ball carrier, he's going to have a hell of a day. If they take that away, hopefully someone else will do it."

Quarterback Tim Tebow has remained relatively healthy all season and has not had to leave the field due to injury yet in 2008. However, the Gators have been able to roll off huge wins over several teams and that has allowed freshman back up quarterback John Brantley to be inserted into the game and play, sometimes for a half or more. Meyer really likes the progress of his young gun.

"That is one of the concerns you have," Meyer said of having the second quarterback not ready to go in case of emergency. "He got almost two and a half quarters (against The Citadel). He is getting ready and done a nice job."

Meyer also thinks the new quarterback at Florida State has done a nice job this year. Christian Ponder has had his hands full this season but has managed to guide the Noles to their best record in years.

"He is a lot like our guy," Meyer said, comparing him to the Gators' Heisman Trophy winning Tebow. "They are doing a good job. They have an option element to their game. The quarterback position accounted for about 140 of their yards last week. They are doing single wing football and option football. Around here you know how we feel about that, so it is good stuff."

With this rivalry game and the Gators on the verge of possibly playing for a national title, this game certainly gets ramped up a bit. FSU comes in playing solid and inspired football while the Gators may be playing the best of anyone in the country. The chance to play for it all probably does add to the hoopla surrounding the game and gives the Noles a little more to shoot for.

"It matters when both teams are good and right now they are playing their best football," Meyer said of the rivalry and of the Noles success this season. "Once again, we don't talk about those things. We just have to worry about our business which is moving the ball and playing good defense."

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