Meyer Loves Coaching His Team

It has been a softer, gentler Urban Meyer than in past season media opportunities. This year he has been much more comfortable with his team, and their preparation for a new season. No doubt that comes with winning a championship and also with returning most of the team that won that championship. But, even he acknowledged on Monday that this has been a team that is a joy to coach.

"I love coaching this team and you don't hear me saying that very often," Urban Meyer said in front of the media on Monday. "There will be a very good team that jogs out to practice today. They will be in full pads, there isn't going to be any complaining and they will be anxious to get going. It's hot and humid, but you have a bunch of players and coaches ready to get out there and work. That sounds easy, but look around college football and you will see that doesn't happen everywhere."

Meyer already knows what practice will be like Monday evening because the day started out on a strong note.

"We have a pep in our step," he said. "We came in at 7:15 this morning and I really like this team and am anxious to get going. We aren't a finished product but we don't have to be...not yet. We are going to have a tough hard nosed practice today and tomorrow."

Meyer doesn't anticipate many changes to an offense that was a record setter a year ago; however, a couple of changes may be in order.

"We are going to mess around with the up tempo, a little bit of what we learned from Oklahoma," Meyer said. "How much is to be determined. I am kind of anxious to see it work and we have spent a lot of time on it."

Meyer has no worries what so ever with complacency. If there is any, it will be quite apparent for what looks to be a brutal Monday practice coming.

"There is no chance you survive today...they have been off for 48 hours," Meyer said in anticipation of having a team that is rested so he can work them hard. "I will know today if they can't make it through today's practice unless they are rared up and ready to go. I anticipate from their weight work out this morning and their attentiveness at 7 am, they are ready to go."

Meyer is looking into running a little bit of offense from underneath center instead of all in the shot gun, but that is less of a sure thing.

"Underneath center, I think you will see a little of that if it helps us win games," he said. "A lot of it will depend on the tailbacks. If those guys run like I think they are going to run you might see some traditional hand the ball off. But, we have to go win the game."

Meyer listed off a bunch of familiar names to start in the offense. He likes the progress his tailbacks have made since the start of last season.

"If we had to start tomorrow, Jeff Demps would be the tailback. Brandon James would be the H...David Nelson as well and he would be different personnel...different body types. Aaron Hernandez would start (at tight end) as well as Cooper and Thompson on the outside. Chris Rainey will get in the game early and Emmanuel Moody has had a couple of really good practices. We will have a rotation at running back.

"You will see a package where we will have two tailbacks in at the same time. Then Hernandez maybe come out of the game.

We will be an Inside Zone (running team), that is our base play. Even more than ever because who we have back there, they are excellent zone runners, all three of them. Same as we have done in the past with more emphasis on tight zone."

Meyer will likely utilize the tailbacks more than last year when they ran for a combined 1600 plus yards. Part of that is to take some of the wear and tear off of quarterback Tim Tebow.

"I want to take a little heat off of Tim," Meyer said. "We have some good tailbacks. I've been very critical of that position, and deservedly so. We haven't been a Division 1-A highest level of college football at tailback. We are now, and if you jog those kids out there right now, they are getting close."

Meyer is also pretty happy with his replacements at offensive tackle. Matt Patchan, Marcus Gilbert, and Carl Johnson should all be ready this week to perform at a high level.

"Marcus Gilbert, there is no transition," Meyer said. "He is a product of the program. The left tackle (Matt Patchan) right now is as talented of a left tackle as we have ever's just new for him. I hate to say it, but we almost wasted a year because we had to play him on defense. That is a whole year of development at arguably the most difficult position in college sports...offensive linemen and understanding everything. He is catching up real fast. He is the guy or Carl at left tackle and you put James Wilson inside or Robey at center, with Pouncey, Pouncey, and Marcus."

The line s almost set, but it is the depth at wide receiver that probably leaves the most concern for Meyer and his staff. Meyer knows what he can get and likes it from the likes of Riley Cooper, Deonte Thompson, David nelson, and Brandon James. Beyond that, there is not much certainty.

"(Receiver depth is) our number one concern on offense…that and finalizing our front five," Meyer said. "These two practices are going to be critical on that.

"…At receiver I am not comfortable with our two's, putting them in the game and think we can function at a high level. Some guys are banged up and it's not there."

"…With Carl Moore still not healthy...just think if Riley Cooper didn't come back. Riley Cooper is a heck of a player and has had a great camp. He is playing the best football of his career. Deonte Thompson over the last seven or eight days has taken a big step in becoming one of our Florida (type) receivers. Inside we have Brandon James and David Nelson. Behind them we have some issues. There are some depth issues."

One issue Meyer has had to deal with is the health of his promising freshman receiver Andre Debose. Debose showed up in June with a hamstring injury and has never been able to shake it. Meyer talked again about the injury and said there would have to be some decisions made sometime Monday or Tuesday.

"I am going to meet with Dr. Pete around 1," Meyer said of the team physician Dr. Pete Indelicato. "That is a very unique injury. There is an issue with the tendon and I guess there are two that connect to the bone. It isn't career ending. (The question is) do you fix it or give it time? He has already had a lot of time, so that decision will be made in the next 24 hours.

"It has not been made yet. Morrell Debose, his father will be involved as well as his mother and Andre. It's almost as if he is relieved, because hamstring pulls should be healed by now. They compare it a little bit to a young man at Oklahoma, Demarco Murray. Not many guys have had what he has."

Overall Meyer is happy with the position battles he has on his team created by depth from recruiting. There are some spots that are short like receiver because of injuries, but at almost every position there is someone nipping at the heels of a returning starter. Meyer talked a little about the recruiting there.

"Consistency, (we are) a program that has recruited to a system," he said. "We don't redshirt at Florida. I learned that my first year here. If you are the best player, you are going to come in here and play. Recruiting picked up with that. That should continue down the road."

When to play the backups is a little easier this year given that the backups are very talented and in some cases already have game experience. In a mismatch game like Saturday, he is looking forward to watching his second unit and see what they can do.

"Our job is to win that game and I am a little more nervous than most coaches," Meyer said about when is a good enough lead to start substituting. "Addazio knows that the game is secure when the game is secure. The good thing is we have some good young will be a little easier to put them in. In our first and second year it was much more difficult to throw guys in because it will go in reverse and we can't have that happen. I don't think that will happen (now).

Steve Addazio will be handling the offensive coordinator duties for the first time under Meyer, but the head Gator showed little concern for Addazio's new role. Meyer knows it is a collective effort anyway.

"It's a tough job but I am less concerned about that if you know him as an individual," Meyer said. "He isn't a Lone Ranger here he will have a lot of help and a lot of discussion. Most of the game plan, goal line and short yardage will be done and the coordinator simply looks down and calls the play or I will be right with him and I will call the play. Billy Gonzales will be very involved in the passing game. Brian White and Scot Loeffler will be upstairs and be the eyes of what we are seeing. I will be very involved in the pass game as well as Billy Gonzales.

"It won't be much different. Steve is much more organized than I am. He has already practiced it a lot out there. He's very organized and I am very comfortable that he will do the job."


Meyer was asked specifically about defensive tackle Jaye Howard. The sophomore from Orlando is pushing for a starting job and in a battle with returning starter Terron Sanders along the defensive front. Meyer is impressed with his young lineman.

"He went through what I say the 90th percentile of athletes go through...they are very confused," Meyer said of Howard when he first arrived on campus. "One of our sayings here is that we like to eliminate all the confusion. If you practice really hard and learn the play book you will play, if you don't you won't play.

"He has had an excellent camp. If we played tomorrow I think he would take the first snap. He and Terron Sanders are right there. The beautiful thing about competition is that if he makes the decision to not go hard, then he won't start. I am very proud of Jaye. He has a great family and is a good person.


Meyer wasn't asked much about the upcoming opener against overmatched Charleston Southern. As usual he was very respectful of the Gators' opponent and lauded the confusion they tend to create when the Buccaneer's defense takes the field.

"Offensively we don't feel panicked about their offense," Meyer said. "Defensively they are all over the place…they are very difficult to prepare for. We will have a personnel advantage, but we don't want to put our players in a bad position...turning a guy loose. We have spent a lot of time on that. We just have to cover all the bases."

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