Gator Receiving Corps Taking Shape

With the Florida Gators' offense seemingly clicking on all cylinders last night in their 62-3 drubbing of Charleston Southern, the offense was the focus of Urban Meyer's Sunday morning teleconference. Meyer talked highly of last night's leading receiver Riley Cooper who also helped some big runs from scrimmage with his downfield blocking.

Riley Cooper caught five passes for 105 yards, but also helped the running backs gain nearly 400 yards with his blocking.

"He might be one of the best [blockers] we've ever had," Urban Meyer said. "Coach (Billy Gonzales) takes great pride in that and our receiving crew in '06 was probably one of the best examples. To win that 2006 national championship against Ohio State it came down to the edge blocking."

The Gators had 12 rushing plays go for more than 10 yards, which Meyer said was helped by the downfield blocking of the wide receivers and part of the game plan.

"That was going to be a big part of our game plan and we dominated the edge," Meyer said. "Our guys block before they catch balls in practice. Riley Cooper takes it to the next level because he's such a tough guy and a competitive guy."

With the biggest question mark on offense coming at the receiving position, Meyer feels a little better about the group after watching Cooper's performance on Saturday.

"What Riley Cooper has done is turn into a great football player," Meyer said. "He catches the ball well and does other things well but for the football coach who grades him he's a great player."

"Thank God he came back. It's nice to see Frankie Hammond and Omarius Hines on the outside make some plays as well. We're struggling right now if we don't have Coop, and Deonte (Thompson) is a much better player than that. He's ready to make plays at ‘X' and he'll have more opportunities to show us."

Hines caught three passes for the Gators on Saturday for 31 yards. He wasn't talked about much in the preseason and could emerge as a viable option for Meyer.

"He was coming out of nowhere, we had zero plays for him but he did okay in special teams," Meyer said. "We do certain things during practice where we can evaluate guys' speed and tempo and one of them we call Thursday races on kickoff. I won't get into who he beat down the field but we actually race our kickoff team down the field on Thursdays and that's where guys around here really got noticed all the way back to Reggie Nelson, to Dorian Munroe, a variety of players that really got noticed because you can see them run and he's fast and he's a good guy. You'll see more and more of him if he stays healthy."

Hines will help add depth to the receiving corps that still doesn't know the future status of freshman Andre Debose. Meyer didn't have much of an update on Debose's hamstring injury.

"It's not my decision, it's the doctors'," Meyer said. "I think it's coming fairly quickly. I understand we're going to meet with him again Monday or Tuesday so you guys will be learning as soon as we hear something."

The Gators got a little bit of a scare during the second quarter of last night's game when left tackle Carl Johnson went down with what appeared to be a knee injury. But Meyer affirmed last night's early diagnosis of a bone bruise.

"As of last night the text I got really late was that it's a bone bruise," he said. "They're going to evaluate it and look at it today. I'd say probable this week against Troy."

The game in control midway through the second quarter, it allowed Meyer to give backup quarterback John Brantley some significant time under center. Brantley completed 8-of-12 passes for 67 yards and a pair of touchdown throws. He also rushed six times for 40 yards.

"It was very correlated to the way he practiced, that was very focused, I wish he'd run the ball a little more aggressively, I thought he ran the ball okay," Meyer said. "Throwing the ball, he made quick, decisive decisions, managed the game well and a great opportunity for him to continue to get better."

The defense, as expected, played well, holding Charleston Southern to just three points. The only time the Buccaneers got close to finding the end zone was late in the fourth quarter when the backups held their ground. While almost every defensive player got into the game, a few were forced to watch from the sidelines. Dustin Doe and Janoris Jenkins were two who were forced to watch after getting into some off-the-field trouble in the offseason, but Meyer said both are getting close to working their way back into the rotation.

"Dustin Doe is week-to-week, day-to-day at this point but if we played tomorrow he'd be eligible to play," Meyer said. "Janoris Jenkins, if he has a good week of practice, he'll be eligible to play as well."

At safety, Will Hill won the starting job in week one over last season's interception leader Ahmad Black. Meyer said the week-to-week starters will be determined by how all the safeties practice during the week.

"The safety rotation is whoever has the best week of practice plays," Meyer said. "The good thing is coach (Chuck) Heater has done a good job. We have three guys, when Dorian comes back maybe four. We have three guys that earned the opportunity to start so we have three starters.

"They're pretty interchangeable. That's the thing every coach looks for because all three can play the two different positions. Will Hill had a better week of practice, I think he started, I don't even know. It's a little bit like our left tackle, left guard spot. I look at it like we have six offensive linemen, we have three safeties.

"At any time, those three guys have earned the right to play and the same thing with James Wilson and Matt Patchan. We consider those guys starters.

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