Dungy Motivates Gators Before Final Scrimmage

Urban Meyer has been known as a great motivator and is not afraid to bring others in to help motivate his team to excel. On Thursday, Meyer brought in one of the most respected people in all of football to talk to his troops,just before Saturday's final scrimmage of the fall. The motivation was good so far as the Gators had a good practice on Friday heading into the scrimmage.

Every year as the Gators prepare to break camp and prepare for the fall school semester, they hold a 'Champions Day'. For Meyer it is one of the high points that he spends with his team for the entire year.

"Yesterday was the Champions Day," Meyer told the media Friday. "Billy Donovan, Cris Carter, and Doc Rivers have all been gracious with their time (speaking to the team in the past). Last night Tony Dungy came in and gave a strong message. It's one of my favorite nights of the year and I know our players really love it. It was an hour long meeting then we had walk-throughs.

Dungy talked to the team about what it takes to be a real man and probably what they are used to hearing it is to be a man.

"It was all about champions," Meyer said. "It was all about living your life off the field and what the real definition of a man is. To hear him say that as one of the greatest coaches of all time. His message was real clear and I know our guys appreciate it."

The message carried over to the practice field on Friday and Meyer said the offense really had a good day, something that hasn't been prevalent so far this fall.

"Yeah, today was a good day," Meyer said of the offense. "We had short yardage and goal line emphasis today. I just liked the tempo...Today was a really good up tempo practice. We finish tomorrow with a light game simulated practice down at the intramural fields, then we move up here on Monday."

The scrimmage will be about focusing on rhythm on and off the field. Simulating game day atmosphere is key so that things flow well when 90,000-plus are screaming at the top of their lungs from the stands.

"There are a couple of areas we are playing around with," Meyer said. "This one is for running off the field. The mechanics of the 40-second clock, we will have referees out there, and have kickoffs and punts so we don't look like Humpty Dumpty in two weeks."

The good practice yielded two more freshmen removing their stripes. Canadian born and new Hampshire prep school standout receiver Stephen Alli lost his stripe Friday signifying he is a Gator now. Offensive lineman Nick Alajajian of Naples became the fifth player to lose his stripe on the offensive side of the ball. No defensive prospects have lost their stripe yet.

"Stephen Alli got his stripe off today," Meyer said. "He is kind of a crowd favorite because everyone knows that he is kind of raw. He just goes as hard as he can but is like a deer out there just running around. Nick Alajajian was also de-striped today. We are a little bit behind and it's not anyone else's fault, we just haven't been paying much attention to it.

Coming from New Hampshire high school football Alli is making a huge jump to SEC competition. Common sense says he won't play in his first year on campus, but Meyer certainly likes what he sees out of the talented receiver.

"I'd say no, but if he makes the jump he made from week one to week two, then (he could)" Meyer said of possibly playing as a true freshman. "He is doing things only 6-6, 215 pound fast people can do. He is jumping over people and making catches and our quarterbacks really like that for some reason."

The Gators seem to be getting healthy again. A good thing as the season gets closer.

"James Wilson is back, he had reps with the one's and the two's," Meyer said of his star offensive guard."He looks okay he is a little gimped. The good news is most of these guys are starting to rally back up again. Major Wright is good. Moody is going full tilt. Carl Moore is still struggling, he had a procedure done Wednesday, so it will be a little bit."

Starting center Maurkice Pouncey is still nursing a shoulder that has left him free of contact so far this fall. Meyer understands the situation and knows it will be fine in due time.

"There is a concern, but he doesn't have a "reoccurring problem)," he said of Maurkice. "Monday I think he will go against the scouts. He won't go live until Monday of game week."

Dustin Doe appears to be headed back to the team in the future, exactly when, Meyer is still not certain.

Doe will not serve jail time for his recent encounter with the law over driving with a suspended license. Meyer is trying to balance the pressure of being a disciplinarian and one that does the right thing for Doe and the team.

"Dustin Doe is not back," Meyer said of Doe's specific situation. "He is training to get himself in shape and get himself in position. We are still evaluating the suspension. For sure there is a (one game suspension) it might be more. At the appropriate time I will let you guys know that. He is running and training but not ready."

"He's a good guy but for some reason...don't drive. I don't want to make light of the guys career. The great thing is it isn't over."

"Certainly we aren't turning our back because of the kind of situation, but this is the United States of America and there are laws, follow the laws."

The University of Miami recently had a locker room incident that left two people injured and hospitalized. Meyer understands a heated fight on the football field from time to time, but he really shuns incidents like that with teammates off the field.

"On the field it happens, then you just separate it as fast as you can if it's nonsense, then you kick them off the field," Meyer said. "If it's a combative situation then you go."

Meyer said that the Gators have gone a big culture change from when he first arrived on campus as the coach of this team.

"When we first got here five years ago it was a separate locker room for the freshmen and a bunch of tin lockers and they weren't allowed to walk (in the regular locker room)m," Meyer said. They treated the freshmen like they were non-people. Don't walk through here or we will kick your tail and shave your eyebrows. It took us a while to break this tremendous culture we had here (tongue in cheek). You don't win many games, but you beat up freshmen and shave eyebrows?"

"Now I have a freshman that is going through some tough times and he stood up in front of the team and tears rolling out of his eyes and he wanted to thank the older guys for taking care of him. It is called a team and not silly nonsense."

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Meyer isn't too worried about the target on the back of the Gators as the nation's No. 1 team. The Gators have been a marked team for almost two decades.

"Spurrier started it back in the '90's and the Gators are always the hunted," he said. "This will be maybe a little different. I am sure the fans at LSU are going to be louder than the last time we were out there."

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The Gators are getting healthy on the offensive line. The current starters are Marcus Gilbert, Mike Pouncey, Maurkice Pouncey, Carl Johnson, and Matt Patchan. Patchan has earned the starting left tackle spot, but guards James Wilson and Maurice hurt are pushing at guard enough that Patchan has to maintain his high level of play.

"We have Gilbert, Pouncey, Pouncey, and Johnson," Meyer said of the sure starters. "The last one I would say Patchan is in the lead, but James and Maurice Hurt are still (fighting)."

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After a couple of rough weeks on special teams, Meyer seems happy about where they are at right now. He even said there is a battle going on between sophomore Caleb Sturgis and senior All-SEC kicker Jonathan Phillips as the place kicker.

"Sturgis is nipping his toes right now, as a matter of fact he is biting at those toes," Meyer said of the battle between Sturgis and Phillips. "Sturgis and the lawyer are going at it pretty good. We will decide that probably the middle of next week."

Chas Henry is an All-SEC candidate at punter and Meyer likes his continued growth at the position.

"Our punter is set," Meyer said. David Lerner (backup freshman punter from local Buchholz High School) is doing a nice little job. Mike Williamson is doing good as a snapper. Christopher Guido is our backup snapper and is doing a nice little job. I am really impressed with him."

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There are times when the Gators would like to use a fullback and as Tebow moves on the Gators will likely use the position a little more. Right now, two fullbacks have stepped forward with a third in position to make a move as well.

"T.J. Pridemore and Rick Burgess are neck and neck," Meyer said of the fullback position. "Burgess has come on and done a great job. Christopher Scott is three, so we have three. The fourth would be Aaron Hernandez. He would be the best of the best but if you put him there you lose him elsewhere. Ideally, (there are times) where we would like to have both on the field at the same time."


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