Following a Winning Strategy

Two years ago when the Florida Gators prepared for the 2006 BCS title game, Urban Meyer and his staff devised a practice strategy for the time between the SEC Championship and the bowl game. Obviously, the strategy worked, so the Gators have implemented the same plan this time around.

With more than a month between games and 29 practices, Urban Meyer and the Gators have divided the time into three "game weeks". They'll go through their normal routine for three straight weeks before taking the field on January 8.

"Two years ago was the longest we've ever had for a bowl game," Meyer said after Wednesday's practice. "We look at it and it's 29 practices. The players look at you like, ‘this is our reward for a great season?' So instead, we go in three phases, three game weeks. Players like game weeks. They don't like training camp. That's how we came up with it and it worked."

The first phase is fundamentals and conditioning. The second part is one of the most crucial going up against Oklahoma's fast-paced offense. Florida is well into the process of conditioning the defense for the Sooners' attack.

"Sean Cronin is our defensive GA," Meyer said. "We're already into the way up-tempo practice. We're already getting them ready. It's a hard one to get ready for in two days, but in three weeks, we'll be ready for it."

"I don't know how you do it unless you play in the league. There's one thing about the Big 12, a lot of teams play that up-tempo. It's a jailbreak every time you watch their games. They embarrass teams when they're not used to it."

While the defense conditions, the offense continues to work on a game plan. Most of it will be done before offensive coordinator and new Mississippi State head coach returns to Gainesville, but Myer said it's really not that big of a deal.

"It's not that big a deal; the team will be fine," Meyer said. "It was, ‘Dan, you gonna come back and coach?' and he said, ‘Yeah, I'll be back.' We have third downs, we've already got those done. Most of the game plan will be done by the time he comes back. I hear Dan's going to call plays. No, Dan is not going to call plays, it's the University of Florida that calls plays. There's a group of people that that's their job to call plays."

On the injury front, Meyer expects Percy Harvin to be full-go, as well as Chris Rainey. Rainey was not 100 percent for the SEC title game while he was nursing a sore groin. He'll get an MRI on Thursday to so exactly what's wrong. Louis Murphy and Carl Johnson both had sore knees, but they're expected to be fine.

Meyer did say that Cornelius Ingram will definitely not play in the BCS title game.

"I'd love it probably more than CI, but it's only been four months and we have to do what's right after an ACL surgery," Meyer said. "He looks like the freak that he his."

The Gators will have full-padded practices on Friday, Saturday and Sunday before breaking for Christmas. They'll return to the practice field on December 27.

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