Meyer Talks After ‘Senior Tackle' Night

The Florida Gators have a tradition to end every season. Each senior gets a moment to talk to the team and have their position coach talk about them. It helps rally the team together one last time after a hard practice. Meyer talked about a couple of seniors after the practice on Tuesday, and he thinks his team is making progress in their preparations for the big game Thursday night.

Meyer talked about some of his seniors. His current team is a very young group. There are only a handful of seniors that actually make a difference for this team. Still, the night is very important and strikes a chord with the head coach about some of his favorite players. This is the first four year stint Meyer has spent as the head coach at any school he has coached. Some of the moments tonight were very special.

"It was real hard," Meyer said of the emotions displayed during the ceremony after practice. "One thing I didn't realize is sitting and looking at a guy like Louis Murphy. I have never gone through as a head coach with a player. Louis Murphy is part of our first recruiting class. He had a lot of issues when he first got here. Our program goals are real simple. We want you to graduate, compete and win championships, and then go on to the NFL. It was real emotional to see a guy like that, especially what he's gone through. He's hit all three goals and not many players can say that."

Offensive guard Jim Tartt will get his last chance to play for the Gators on Thursday. Tartt started one game this season could have started more without his persistent shoulder injury that kept him out most of the year. Meyer always loved the big senior from Wakulla.

"I think Jim will play," Meyer said. "He gave an emotional talk out there. If he didn't have a shoulder injury, he would be a 13 game starter for us."

The ‘Senior Tackle' doesn't get any easier for Meyer who saw one of his most invested seniors miss the entire season, one that he didn't even have to try and stick around to compete.

"When you stand up in front of that team and the last guy that spoke was Cornelius Ingram…he's walking away with a degree and never regrets a decision he's made," Meyer said. "This is as good a group as I've ever been around."

Meyer said his team's preparation has been great for this turn at the national title. He says this group is very comparable to the one that did all the right things leading up to the 2006 title.

"Very comparable, the only difference is we've had some injured guys missing time, but they've picked it up this past week," he said. "The players have been doing exactly what we asked. The intensity has actually backed off a bit because it is like a Thursday of a practice week. I can't ask them to do anything more than they have done. Now it's time to go and get mentally right. We are physically right, now (we have to get) mentally right the next 48 hours and go play the game.

"They are real anxious, it has been 30 something days and they are real anxious."

Meyer also said his team is about as healthy as they have been all year.

"Physically, everyone should be ready to go," he said. "We had a good practice. Obviously we haven't hit the last two days, but everyone should be ready. We are still keeping an eye on (Percy Harvin) but he should be 100%."

One of the biggest keys for a Gator victory, according to Meyer, is the turnover margin. Florida is currently second in the country in turnover margin and the number one team happens to be the one they are facing Thursday night. The field position that usually comes with turnovers is the issue according to Meyer.

"Turnovers…it is real clear, they are two offenses that put up great numbers," Meyer started. "If you do some further study, I would bet those numbers are a result of good field position. Turnovers and coverage units I think are going to be a big part of this game. Especially when you are facing explosive offenses, you cannot let them get the ball at mid-field and the same with our offense. If you allow them to get the ball near mid-field, they are probably going to score.

Meyer likes his team in the special teams department. The Gators have been exceptional this year on almost all of the special teams.

"We have the number one punt team in the SEC and one of the best in America," Meyer said. "Our kickoff coverage has been better. I think our punt return team is the best in Florida football history between blocked punts and returned punts for touchdowns and field position. I know who we are going against too. A very well coached athletic team I think that is going to be a huge part of this game."

The team is done spending time out on the town, starting Tuesday evening. Although most of the entire team has stayed focused and not hit South Florida with a partying vengeance, tonight there won't be any wandering around.

"We have to get back (to the hotel)," Meyer said. "Tonight is a great night because we can't leave the hotel. We are going to do something special tonight as a team inviting our families in, so at least we have control over it."

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Meyer is usually quick witted when approached by the media. He is also a very nervous person leading up to any game. He was asked what his nerves were like leading up to the big game on Thursday and his response that had the media gathering laughing.

"Someone's going to cut me open some day and say, ‘what is this mess?'", he said.


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