Meyer Sees Some Progress

It is countdown time and maybe the most anticipated season in Gator football history is less than two weeks away. As the season moves forward, the Florida Gators look to be in the right frame of mind and some areas of worry seem to be progressing nicely. Meyer met with the media after practice on Tuesday and came away appearing content with his group.

"We had a good practice today and had about a thirty play simulated scrimmage, it was a good day," Urban Meyer told the media Tuesday following practice. "They are still in a grind. If it was game week they would see the light at the end of the tunnel, they are still in pregame week which is harder."

One group that Meyer has been pleased with this so far this fall is his defensive front. On Monday,. Dan McCarney indicated there might be a 12 man rotation this season. Meyer wasn't so sure about that, but he does like the numbers of quality players he has to throw out on the line this season.

"We haven't had that around here," Meyer said talking about quality play from the defensive line. "The best defensive line we had was probably in '06 and we didn't have that many, those guys just played. Anytime you can get a little rotation going that is pretty good. I don't see 12, I see about eight, (McCarney's) a little more positive than I am."

The trenches on the other side of the ball seem to have quite a few guys ready to play as well. One of the best this fall has been sophomore guard James Wilson who is positioning himself to start or play a lot this season.

"He had a good day, he had a couple of mental errors," Meyer said before alluding to his time off the playing field due to injury. "I grabbed him after practice and told him he could play this game for a while if he just practices. It's not his fault, he had a micro fracture injury and a multitude of issues he has dealt with, now he is finally going and he is a pretty good player."

Meyer also got good news today when starting center Maurkice Pouncey was pronounced fit enough for contact and practiced in most of the drills today.

"He practiced and went against the defense for the first time today," Meyer said of Maurkice Pouncey. "He and Tim Tebow in there elevates the play a lot."

As of now, Meyer is not ready to name a starting offensive line, and he doesn't expect that to come until the middle of next week. Matt Patchan, James Wilson,and Carl Johnson are all battling for two spots on the left side of the line. Also in the mix are center Sam Robey and guard Maurice Hurt.

"We won't give you the starting five until probably next Wednesday...because we don't know," Meyer said.

The running game was huge last year and the Gators top three tailbacks combined for more than 1,600 yards among them. With Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey,and Emmanuel Moody all back, Meyer certainly feels a lot better about the group going into this season as compared to last season.

"(I feel) much better," Meyer said. "Obviously these guys...you are starting to be able to count on them. Demps is a guy that grades out 90 percent every time. He just does everything right. Rainey and Moody are close, but still not there yet."

Meyer noted that two freshmen receivers are starting to step up in practice. Frankie Hammond and T.J. Lawrence are making a push to get significant playing time. His top four receivers of Riley Cooper, Deonte Thompson, Brandon James, and David Nelson have been solid all fall. Cooper is playing better than he ever has.

"Frankie Hammond and T.J. Lawrence, the last two days have been much better," Meyer said. "They are the two that are starting to progress a little bit. I like our first four. Coop has had two excellent days. He had another one today and yesterday was probably his best practice day as a Florida Gator."

Freshman linebacker Brendan Beal has evidently made a lot of noise and has moved in to some part of the rotation at linebacker. Beal missed most of this spring recovering from an ACL tear, but made a big impact right when he returned in spring drills. He was still in pain and had a lot of catch up to do with all the time off. Meyer is happy with Beal's progress.

"He's done a nice job and really improved," Meyer said. "Everyone is worried about who is number two. I see him being in the rotation in that linebacker group."

Meyer also recognized Tuesday that the Gators need a fourth safety. With Dorian Munroe out 5-6 weeks with an arthroscopic knee procedure to repair or remove cartilage, Meyer will probably look at true freshmen Dee Finley and Josh Evans to provide some help in numbers.

"We need four," Meyer said of the safety position. "Last year we went the whole year with three safeties and we were scared to death."

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The kicking competition is very close right now between senior Jonathan Phillips and sophomore Caleb Sturgis. It's close enough to warrant further watching, but Meyer did say on Tuesday that a close call goes to the incumbent.

"Kickers are real close," Meyer said. "Phillips and Sturgis...Phillips will get the nod if he's close. Even if Caleb's this much ahead of him. Both will kick."

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With all the notoriety that Tim Tebow has had since his arrival at Florida it is amazing that we haven't heard about a lot of other Gators being jealous of it all. Meyer said it was something he worried about when Tebow first arrived in Gainesville, but his teammates learned to really respect the Heisman Trophy winner early on.

"Not now, but especially as a freshman and sophomore when he didn't earn anything," Meyer said about worrying of all the hype. "The players are smart, if he had not been the hardest worker on the team, then there might have been a problem. The freshman year I did feel a little bit of that but after we went through one offseason, there was no problem."

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