Meyer Confident in Talent and Coaching Staff

One of the benefits to returning most starters from a national championship squad is that there aren't many personnel questions, and that's the position Urban Meyer finds himself in this fall. Only two positions have question marks, and one is due to the sheer number of talented players there.

Head Coach Urban Meyer mentioned after Thursday morning's practice only two positions that are somewhat up in the air as to who will lineup in September – safety and the offensive line.

The offensive line has been an area of frustration for Meyer so far this fall, partly due to injury. Maurkice Pouncey is still sitting out of practice, but Meyer assured he would be ready by the season opener. But without one of the Pouncey twins, the Gators haven't been able to identify their starting five.

"[The o-line is] a little better," Meyer said. "We're still trying to find, one thing about the offensive line is that you want to get your five going and we haven't found our five guys yet."

If one thing is certain for the offensive line, Meyer is confident in the guy leading the group. Offensive coordinator and line coach Steve Addazio is second to none in terms of bringing energy and intensity to the Gators' locker room and practices.

"He brings it," Meyer said of Addazio. "Our players love it. He's not just a screamer, yeller and throw coffee cups against the wall. He's a great public speaker. He actually gave a message about conviction to the team last night. He's a very profound speaker. His intensity is unmatched by anyone I've ever worked with."

Unlike the offensive line, which is short a starter or two, the safety spot has too many potential starters. Ahmad Black, Major Wright, Dorian Munroe and Will Hill are all battling for two jobs. And again, the success at safety is due to the man in charge – safety coach Chuck Heater.

"Chuck, we hired him the second year in Utah and we didn't have one corner with any kind of experience," Meyer said. "He took Ryan Smith and Bo Nagahi and both those kids had never played corner. We went 12-0 and the defense played tremendous. He came here and took Vernell Brown who everyone said, ‘he can't play here, he can't play there' and he played very well for us. And then you have Ahmad Black. It seems like every year, he pulls a guy out. He's one of the best coaches in America."

One way to solve the number of quality starters at safety is to have more of them on the field at one time.

"We're going to play a lot of nickel," Meyer said. "That's why Will Hill got a lot of starts last year. We'll probably play three safeties more than we play two."

Meyer is hoping to develop another corner, so that he can utilize Joe Haden more on offense. Haden was a guy that Heater quickly converted from an offensive player to a defensive superstar, but Meyer said he's too talented not to get the ball in his hands on offense.

"I just hope that we can get enough depth at the corner position so we can use him a little more on offense," Meyer said. "He's dynamic with the ball in his hands. He's one of the top five I've ever coached. He's that good.

"He never played defense in high school. He was a quarterback/athlete. He actually came and asked us if he could get on the field faster if he played corner. He did and he's going to have a long career at corner.

The Gators are starting to get a bit more healthy, starting with Emmanuel Moody. Moody, who's been out with a sprained ankle, was on the practice field today and Meyer expects him to be at full speed within the next two days. Meyer also said Justin Trattou is getting better, but Brandon Hicks suffered a minor ankle sprain.

Carl Moore and Jeremy Brown both did individual drills, and should be with the team soon, but Meyer is being cautious with both.

NOTES

  • Meyer talked about the Gators' ability to change a game on a single play like they did against Oklahoma in the BCS Title game a year ago. It's one of the items the staff researches and works on at practice. Meyer said, "The best example was when we blocked the field goal against Oklahoma. We had just ran into the punter and had to send the defense back onto the field. I was nauseous. I though we had just blown it. There was no whining and no complaining. We just went out and had a three-and-out."

  • It took a while for Carlos Dunlap to get going in Gainesville after being so physically more gifted than most during his high school days. But now that he's going full speed, Meyer said the potential is limitless. Said Meyer, "He's taken off. He's really doing well. He's a tremendous talent. He's a great kid; we've had no issues with him. He's doing really well in school. He's got a great mom and dad. He just wasn't a hard worker. Last year wasn't off the charts, but he did better."


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