Urban Meyer typically uses practices with scrimmages as a competition between the two units. He believes that by creating that type of atmosphere, the player are more accustomed to tough situations on Saturdays in the fall.
"I think one of the things we do maybe better than anyone else is to put them in competitive situations," Meyer said after today's workout. "It's amazing. The guys that made the plays today were David Nelson, Aaron Hernandez, and Will Hill. It's the same guys that were making plays for us in the SEC Championship game and the national championship game. What we're trying to do is maybe ID those guys that haven't made those plays."
Meyer and his staff are really trying to find some guys on offense. With all 11 starters returning on defense, there's not much of a concern there. But there are some holes to fill on offense, primarily with the receiving corps.
"Murph was a leader and a competitor," Meyer said. "The position is just not where it needs to be."
In addition to replacing Louis Murphy, Florida needs to replace the multi-faceted Percy Harvin.
"Someone who can be a nightmare to a defender," Meyer said. "Maybe it's Andre Debose or Jeff Demps or Chris Rainey. I don't think you can replace Percy. But the ones I talk to say there are two people – Percy Harvin and Aaron Hernandez because they are a matchup nightmare."
The Gators used Kestahn Moore in the fullback spot last season, and there are some early names for back looking ahead to the '09 season.
"Pridemore, Wilks, Burgess, obviously Aaron Hernandez can do some of it," Meyer said. "The guys we're trying to ID are Des Parks, him and Hernandez. Des is going to have to play because we just don't have another guy. Tate Casey really helped us last year and had a purpose."
Aside from receiver and fullback, the offensive line is Meyer's other concern.
"Offensive line is a weak point. Mike Pouncey has got to get back," Meyer said. "James Wilson has got to get better, it's year three. The tackle position, that's not the strength right now."
Meyer said Carl Johnson and Marcus Gilbert are the leaders at tackle with the Gators needing to replace both spots.
While trying to identify new playmakers, Meyer said they look for a natural progression without giving up on a player too soon.
"I think coaches sometimes feel like if you didn't perform yesterday then you get upset," he said. "The normal progression of a player – the Tebows, Harvins and Spikes – that's a little abnormal. You don't have a lot of guys like that. You do have a lot Jermaine Cunnighams, Louis Murphys and David Nelsons that redshirt and play and then they get ready to go. We don't want to push a guy, but we don't want to give up on a player to early."
One player the Gators didn't give up on after he failed to qualify last season was Dee Finley. Meyer has been impressed with what Finley has done this year after the newcomer spent last season at prep school in New York.
"That's the first time we've done that," Meyer said. "The people up at the prep school were fabulous. And Chuck Heater did a great job. That's Chuck's guy. We talked to them 3-4 times per week. It was a tough situation, it was not easy."
Florida's next practice will be Monday afternoon.
Competitive Practices Key for Meyer
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