Meyer feels good about his Gators

It has been over a week since Florida head coach Urban Meyer addressed the media and there have been a few significant things on the table since that time. Meyer spoke to the media after practice Tuesday and said some things that will probably settle the nerves of a lot of folks. His team seems to be getting healthy as the BCS Championship game nears. It looks like everyone should be able to play.

Meyer seemed pretty upbeat as he has been almost all season. The Gators have practiced well almost all year and each week of good practice has led to a great outcome on the football field.

"We have had three great days (of practice)," Meyer said about his teams training since the Christmas holiday break. "Today was more of a focus and concentration day. We had three really intense and hard days and I am really glad we had some 80 degree heat, that really helped us."

One of the reasons he may be feeling a little more upbeat than usual is that star playmaker Percy Harvin is getting better and showing signs of being ready to go, maybe a little ahead of schedule.

"Percy ran today and caught passes today," Meyer said. "He did not practice with the team. He did walk-throughs and probably a good hour of running routes. I would say he is probable for the game. I would say he is a little head of schedule."

Meyer paused to talk about what kind of person Harvin is and just the ability he has to leave everything out there on the line.

"I am not sure I have ever seen a guy do what he has done," Meyer said. "I am giving the guys a day off tomorrow and he said 'I'm not going anywhere. This is my world', and he is as competitive a guy as anyone and it's showing up right now."

Meyer did take a minute to express the misconception about Harvin and missing a lot of playing time. He has missed some practice time, but when it comes time to show up on Saturdays, Percy is usually there to compete.

"Mickey (Marotti) told me he hasn't missed a lot of games because of injury," Meyer said of Harvin. "He hasn't missed as much as many people think. I think Percy Harvin, when healthy is the best player in college football. He is a reckless player. Him and Tim Tebow are two of the most reckless players. They throw their bodies into any situation. Jeff Demps is in that category too, they just completely throw their bodies into situations that not many people will."

Meyer was asked about his Heisman winning quarterback Tebow and the great mental foundation his signal caller is blessed with. According to Meyer it is something special and very hard to believe sometimes.

"He doesn't fear anything," Meyer said of Tebow. "A lot of people rip their heart out and lay it on the table, and I'm not willing to do that. His whole family is like that. The whole family exposes themselves and have such a strong faith that there is nothing in this world of hypocrisy and phoniness from them."

Meyer said Tebow's personality comes straight from his parents and their value system.

"When I first met them, I was waiting (to see what) the real gig was here," he said. "But, it is true, it is all from the heart. It is 100 percent right on target, that is how he lives his life.

One of the big questions out there is whether Tebow has submitted paperwork to be graded by NFL evaluators for the draft. Most folks want to know if he is even considering coming out for the NFL draft before his senior season.

"I don't know that," Meyer said about whether Tebow turned in the paperwork. "I know we spoke briefly about it, and other than that we have been busy with nothing other than Oklahoma."

Meyer was asked would he be shocked if Tebow did turn in the paperwork?

"I don't want to speculate because that's not fair to a guy that I have as much respect as I have ever had," he said. "I love the fact that his focus is on what it is, and that is to win this game. There has been no decisions made. We have only talked about Oklahoma. It is really a unique situation."

In a good mood, Meyer was asked if he ever worried about Tebow's left handed throwing.

"I worried about that when he first got here, but now I am worried about the right handers," Meyer quipped.

One of the big surprises for this 2008 season has been the play of true freshman Janoris Jenkins at cornerback. Jenkins started every game this season and has been a standout. Meyer didn't know Jenkins could play so maturely in his rookie year.

"What I didn't anticipate was what a great worker and leader he is," Meyer said of Jenkins. I thought he was a freak player and had freak ability. I never envisioned he was a guy that would not miss a class and take a professional approach like a senior. He is the best with that I have been around."

Meyer was asked if Jenkins was the best freshman defensive back he has seen. He couldn't say no to the question.

"That is a profound statement, but I don't think there is any question he is." Meyer said. "Major Wright and Joe Haden are but they weren't at the same level (last year). His maturity level is above and beyond.

Janoris' play this year is indicative of what Meyer and his staff believes when freshmen show up on campus. If they are good enough to play right away, they will play.

"We made a decision and we recruit like that," Meyer said. "There is no such thing as a redshirt...Now, you might not play if you aren't good enough, but we don't redshirt people at Florida. If you aren't good enough, that's not a redshirt, that means you aren't good enough."

Meyer repeated one more time that Dan Mullen will be in the press box on game day helping the University of Florida try and win a national championship. Mullen recently was hired on as the head coach at Mississippi State, but has decided to stay on and finish the job he started at Florida for the 2008 season.

"I keep hearing, 'who is calling plays?'," Meyer said. "The University of Florida is calling plays. Dan is a great coach and we need Dan. His professionalism and how he handles everything The immediacy of the whole situation, what is the best opportunity (for us to win). Yet, I am still conscious that he has a job to do and it isn't an easy one. It could not have worked better in the last week of practice."

This week Meyer named offensive line coach Steve Addazio as the replacement for Mullen. Meyer believes Addazio was a given once a change had to be made.

"His leadership...he's as good a leader as I have been around," Meyer said of why he promoted Addazio. "He talks to the team quite often. He brings an element of toughness and is a great motivator. When you have a coach like that on your staff, there wasn't much decision. I didn't even talk to another coach about being a coordinator. I knew that was going to happen from the beginning."

One of the drills that Addazio is in charge of is getting the team motivated. The team has rallied around his pep talks early on game days and now they have a nickname for them.

"'Vitamin Addazio'...every (Saturday) morning when they wake up and they look forward to it," Meyer said of the game day pep talks. "It all started the night before the Outback Bowl in 2005, he went after them and tore into them. He is an extremely good motivator and powerful guy. 'Vitamin Addazio' on Saturday mornings.

One rumor that keeps going around is that wide receiver coach Billy Gonzales may be headed to the University of Tennessee after the BCS game. Meyer kind of laughed that one off.

"I asked Billy about that same thing and whoever invented the Internet, I'd like to hit them in the mouth," Meyer said jokingly. "I worry about our coaches. You know what is a neat thing, is that guys want our coaches."

Meyer will be facing Bob Stoop and his Oklahoma Sooners on January 8 and the two have a very unique relationship. The two talk relatively often about things in their profession.

"I would not call him a real close friend, but we talk often," Meyer said of Stoops. "He is a guy I entrusted my decision that I made in my career and that he would give me an honest opinion and he gave it to me. We have a very good relationship."

Stoops' Sooners are led by sophomore Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford at quarterback. Meyer has seen a lot of film on Bradford and understands a few reasons why he is successful.

"The last couple to four days I have watched a lot," Meyer said of the Oklahoma offense. "I think the best thing about Bradford is that he sets his feet and throws the ball. He doesn't panic or run out of the pocket and scramble, That is what makes him a better quarterback. One thing about Bradford I have seen on film is that he gets to his third check down and stays in that pocket. That's hard to teach.

"A lot of guys don't have time to get a third check down, because their offensive line isn't very good. He has four seniors and a junior on the offensive line and he gets to his third check down. That is a hell of a problem for the secondary."

Meyer made it official with the good news on the academic front. As we told you here last week, the entire football team has passed their classes and are eligible to play against the Sooners.

"Every senior graduated," Meyer said. "They are all good, as a matter of fact some guys did phenomenal. Our team GPA was 2.7, which is the first semester we didn't go up. We were up pretty high at 2.8. But, I was pleased with it.

The injury front seems to be clearing up as well. Meyer expects everyone to be ready to go by game time.

"Carl Johnson practiced today.," he said. "Louis Murphy practiced today. Kestahn Moore did not. He had meniscus surgery so he should be full speed when we get to Miami. (Chris) Rainey is good. Jim Tartt still has his chronic shoulder that we are being cautious. We're good.


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