Meyer Not Happy About Monday Practice

It was the first day for the Florida Gators in shoulder pads and Head Coach Urban Meyer wasn't exactly pleased with what he saw. The defense looked alright, but the offense, especially up front, struggled on the day. There were some positive signs around too but as the pads came on things are starting to get a little more in focus the Gator head coach.

The offensive line kind of set the tone for Urban Meyer today and when they don't execute, he knows that it will be hard to get his entire team to execute like he wants it to.

"It was real sloppy today," Meyer told the media on Monday. "I was disappointed and I thought we would do better today. I think the heat and shoulder pads threw us off a bit. Every practice matters and we are one down now and have to get that one back.

"The shovel pass is kind of cute and the reverses, but what are we? We are a deep offensive line and if we don't come out and play very well, that just isn't very good. Every year we are one of the top rushing teams in college football...but, they didn't practice very well.

"The good thing is Steve Addazio is rotating those guys in. I had a meeting afterwards and told them I love Tim (Tebow) and Tim is on the cover of every magazine, but those five guys should be right behind him. He's nothing without those five guys."

Meyer needs the twins Mike and Maurkice Pouncey to take the reins and get this group headed in the right direction.

"The Pounceys are kind of the rallying guys," he said. "They are the guys everyone looks up to. Marcus Gilbert and Carl are survivors and not leaders right now. Patchan is a survivor so Pounceys are it.

One guy that is fighting for a new starting spot actually had a good day. Meyer was waiting to see if James Wilson would perform well when the pads came on like he did in the previous two practices without pads. He wasn't let down and Meyer said Wilson has earned first team honors for the moment.

"James Wilson did good today too," he said in reference to the prior two days of practice. "Right now he is rolling with the first team."

Redshirt freshman Sam Robey may be relied upon early this fall as starting center Maurkice Pouncey is still healing from a shoulder injury. Meyer would like Robey to get back the form he showed back in April when he was inserted for the injure Pouncey.

"He's got to get going and get back to where he was at the end of spring," Meyer said of Robey.

One freshman has really stood out among the group of five linemen that came in. Xavier Nixon is quick to catch on and brings all the physical tools necessary to compete at the highest level.

"Xavier Nixon is probably the most advanced of the freshmen," Meyer said. "There is a chance he will play this year with his intelligence, and maturity, and the ability to handle what is going on. Jon Halapio is going to be a great player, but Xavier is ahead of him. We have five freshmen offensive linemen and if you ask if we would take them all again? Yes we would, and that is rare.

"Xavier is 300 pounds now and had a great summer and is one of our fastest offensive linemen. When I went to watch him play basketball we could see he had the athleticism, but we didn't anticipate he would be 300 pounds, we thought he would be 280-285."

As bad as the offense and the offensive line seemingly played, Meyer was happy with the defense and singled out a few players.

"(Jon) Bostic looked really good today," Meyer said. "Spikes looked good. Carlos Dunlap had one of his best practices...he is just going and going. (Lawrence) Marsh had a good day. Our defense stood out today.

The injury bug hasn't been that bad compared to years past. Right now running back Emmanuel Moody is sidelined with an ankle sprain and could return at any time. Receiver Carl Moore has a back ailment and is expected back soon. Justin Trattou sprained his left foot today but it is not expected to be serious. Jeremy Brown is still out indefinitely with his back injury. The lone long term injury prognosis is Steven Wilks who tore his ACL in the spring.

"Justin Trattou had a sprained foot (Monday) but he will be fine," Meyer said. "Carl Moore did not go, but is getting closer. Ahmad Black did practice today. Moody is getting closer. Jeremy Brown did not practice. Steven Wilks is not part of the 105 and he is rehabbing."

For Meyer he can't spend a lot of time worrying about injuries, but he does look seriously into the number of reps that his guys take at every single practice. It is very important to the head Gator that no one gets worn down during this early practice period.

"I never spent more time preparing a training camp," Meyer said. "I have a very veteran team and sometimes it is 660 pounds going against 600 pounds and we have to be smart. We evaluate every practice and we know exactly how many reps the first offensive line goes against the first defensive line...etc. We aren't being cautious, but intelligent about how we practice."

One of the main positions that needs to be settled before the season starts is the slot receiver position vacated by Percy Harvin. Right now there are three specific players that are getting the hard look at the position. Brandon James, Jeff Demps, and Andre Debose. Debose is the most natural fit, but he just has to catch up with the play book like all true freshmen do.

"I wish Debose was a little further ahead," Meyer said. "His heart is in the right place and he is trying. That hamstring limited him a little bit in preparation this summer. Jeff Demps and Brandon James are the two guys fighting for that position....until Debose gets ready

"He had a great summer with the leadership and he is kind of a rallying guy," Meyer said of James. "He was the guy in charge when they threw on their own. Tim Tebow has always respected Brandon and he respects him more after this summer."

"He can catch the ball, it's the elusiveness of beating man to man coverage," Meyer said in terms of Demps learning the position at a level that the staff feels comfortable. "It's hard to do when you have never played receiver and we are working on that right now."

Along the defensive front one of the players that the staff is ready to see make a move is redshirt freshman Omar Hunter. In his first day of pads, the Gator head man was pleased with the way Hunter looked.

"He had a good day today," Meyer said of Hunter. "He doesn't have a cloudy look."

Two freshmen are still in the wait and see mode, but Meyer knows they are going to be a part of the plan when things come together for the youngsters.

"(Gary Brown) is a big old body that is out of shape but is going to be a pretty good player," Meyer said. "I am going to reserve judgment until I see (Earl Okine play well). He's a nice kid, but isn't playing well right now. I think it's just the go hard and toughness right now.

Meyer was asked to talk about the pleasant depth the Gators have at linebacker. He likes what he sees so far, but the real hitting hasn't come on just yet and he would like more of await and see. Still, he has seen some improvement from a couple of the linebackers on campus.

"It's too early, I like our depth and the players there, plus I like them as people," Meyer said of his linebackers. "Jelani Jenkins and Bostic, along with Hicks. Obviously you have the two captains in Spikes and Stamper."

"Another guy that has really improved is Lorenzo Edwards. I think he can see that if he doesn't improve he will never play. To his credit he had a great summer and two really good practices."

Meyer was distraught when asked about the news of former Gator tight end Cornelius Ingram. A former "face of the program", Ingram tore his ACL and is out for the year as a rookie with the Philadelphia Eagles.

"I talked to CI a couple of times," Meyer said. "I guess he said he re-injured it around the combine time. I left a message for Coach Andy Reed because the way he has handled it has been really good for our guy and (Ingram) is one of our family."

Meyer said the first scrimmage of the fall would be on the ninth practice which should put it on Saturday Aug 15. It will not be open to the public.

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