Meyer: Gators Cruise After Slow Start

The final score of Florida's thrashing of Troy was not indicative of the start of the game. Florida head Coach urban Meyer was a little worried when his Gators took just a 7-3 lead into the second quarter on Saturday. Fifteen game minutes later and Meyer knew things were back to way they should be. Florida scored 28 unanswered points in the second quarter to win 56-6 on Saturday.

Meyer has seen all too well what Troy has one to other opponents that were supposedly outmanned.

"I saw the way that one started and I thank God for great defense and a great kicking game and we've won a lot of games around here like that," Meyer told the media contingent on hand after the game. "Their defense played a whole different style of defense than we were used to seeing and I thought Coach Addazio and staff did a nice job of adjusting because it was completely different."

The Gators were stymied in their first two possessions going only 24 yards in eight total plays in the two drives. They came into the game ready to open up the playbook, but the Troy defense gave them a new look.

"We needed to rep some of that stuff," Meyer said of using the whole playbook. "They did a unique style where they squeezed those corners. Not one snap have we seen Troy do that…they did it and it caused us some issues in the game."

To make matters worse, after the Gators did finally score on their third possession, they fumbled away the next two possessions. However, he liked the way his running backs carried the ball on the day.

"We laid the ball on the ground and we don't do that around here so we have to fix it," Meyer said. "We have to move on and we will. I thought our running backs ran hard and Chris Rainey was tremendous. We are as good as our offensive line and we are playing at a real high rate of efficiency."

The real star of the day was the Florida defense that allowed Troy only two field goals and just 139 yards on the day.

"Defense was the name of the game today, that defense was dominating and we played a lot of three down-odd package," Meyer said. "If we can get both three and four down playing at that level we have a chance of being pretty good.

Every time Meyer would worry about his offense doing the wrong thing on the field in the first quarter, the defense would step to the plat and play huge.

"I am one of those negative guys sometimes and I kept looking out there and thinking about what Troy has done to other teams," Meyer said. "I thought it was going to be one of those games and we have to get the momentum back. Then every time our defense stepped up and made a play."

"It kind of takes the wind out of the team on the other sideline when they can't gain anything. It was just a dominating performance by our defense."

Meyer's talk of the three down line was pertinent as the Gators used it throughout the day on defense. With defensive end Justin Trattou playing a great deal at the nose. The defense took on a speedy look adding an extra safety in the back end. Meyer loves the versatility of his defense and the look that is being perfected by defensive coordinator Charlie Strong.

"It's a speed game and they call it the Joker package," Meyer said. "That is something Coach Strong is comfortable with and he ran it at South Carolina when he was there. He is one of the first guys that got deep in that package. If you are able to play four down and a 3-3-5, and be competent in both of those…to put those three safeties on the field and the speed of the defensive ends, it's hard to block. It is a pressure oriented package and (we get) a lot of blitzes out of it."

For Trattou, it was probably just another day on the job.

"Typical Justin, I am sure he played as hard as he can and graded out a champion," Meyer said. "That is what he does every week."

It was also just another day on the job for the Florida defense that finished fourth in scoring defense a year ago and top ten ion total defense. Meyer mentioned that Brandon Spikes talked about the identity of this defense in the locker room just before the coach came to talk to the media.

"Brandon Spikes just said something in the locker room," Meyer started. "He said, ‘it's what we do.' We just go play, it's what we do. That is a big part of the second quarter, the defense's domination."

A key component to the Meyer offense is the slot position both manned by Brandon James and also the flexed tight end on the other side manned by Aaron Hernandez. The offensive playbook was opened up a bit so these two got a great deal of attention on the day. James finished with 15 rushing yards, two catches and 49 yards receiving, and he caught a touchdown pass. Hernandez finished with 39 receiving yards on four catches.

"He did a great job today," Meyer said of James. "That formation was last used in the national championship game where we go two to the boundary. Aaron Hernandez had a nice game as well and the play action pass. That is a tough set to stop if that guy is a good player and Brandon James did a nice job."

Getting sophomore receiver Deonte Thompson untracked was also key this week. Thompson dropped a big touchdown pass in the opener and then dropped two early passes Saturday. That didn't deter Meyer and company from going back to the well, somewhere that they believe they can trust in the future.

"It was good to see him catch that touchdown pass, he needed that," Meyer said. "He dropped one earlier in the square in, but nobody has lost confidence in Deonte Thompson here at Florida I can promise you that. That is the product of a lot of hard work, he will fight through that. He had a couple of drops in front of 95,000, but it will be alright. I love Deonte Thompson."

Senior receiver Riley Cooper also had another great day. He continues to dominate defenders when blocking for teammates and also led the team in receiving with five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown.

"He's playing at a different level," Meyer said of Cooper. "It's one we all thought he could, and one he never has. He just goes after people (blocking) like a cobra down the field."

Funny enough Cooper wasn't perfect, even though it may have seemed like it. On his long touchdown pass, he actually ran the wrong route.

"I hate to throw him under the bus, but the guy that caught the touchdown pass ran the wrong route," Meyer said in reference to two receivers being at the same place at the same time. "It was supposed to be a crossing route."

The Gators uncharacteristically fumbled six times in the game and one unfortunate turnover came from star junior running back Emmanuel Moody. Meyer is nowhere near giving up on Moody either.

"That's part of the game," Meyer said. "We will see Moody again."

Senior quarterback Tim Tebow was likely the player of the game throwing for four touchdowns and running for one. Not that it has become ho hum to watch the Heisman Trophy winner, but it has just become expected he will play this way. Tim was allowed to be unshackled this game and run with the ferocity he is known for. With his five touchdowns, he also ran for 75 yards and passed for 237.

"It's hard to stop. Q-draws," Meyer said about quarterback draws. "When you are able to convert like in the national championship game…it's demoralizing. He was starting to play like Tim this week. We didn't let him play like Tim last week and next week we will have to."

Special teams is spearheaded by Meyer and he takes special care of coaching them. He has been somewhat happy so far, but said that senior Jonathan Phillips and sophomore Caleb Sturgis will start battling for the place kicking job after Phillips missed a short field goal.

"I think our kickoff coverage was very good," Meyer said. "Mike Gillislee is starting to make some plays. Our guy Moses Jenkins had a penalty but he is playing at a high level right now. Kick off return I believe was very good.

"The one area that I thought would be our strength has not been our strength yet, but it will be …that is punt block. We have some very good players there. Other phases were pretty good. We are going to open up the place kicking a bit. Phillips is doing okay, but we are going to open up that battle for place kicking duties.

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The attention now turns to the Volunteers of Tennessee. It is the first conference game of the year and Meyer believes his team will be on point when the two match up next Saturday in The Swamp.

"I think the fact that it is Tennessee and the third Saturday of the season," Meyer said. "I have learned that. I know the tradition and know our players take it very serious. Rivalry week at Florida is special. I did talk to our players about that."

"A lot of our guys said the season starts tomorrow. I didn't say that, the players said that. To go out there and play today and like they did the first week, I am starting to buy into the professionalism in this team. We will see if they show up ready to rock and roll tomorrow and rivalry week starts."

Meyer isn't worried about the easy competition the first two weeks and maybe not being able to gauge where his team really stands.

"I haven't really thought about it," he said. "As the Head Coach at the University of Florida breaking the locker room at 4 o'clock or whenever it was with two big wins I am good to go and our players are good to go. Its how they show up tomorrow that will be key. Tuesday is how we win games around here, Tuesday will be the hardest practice we ever had, and I think we will be ready."

"I think today really helped us. We are relatively healthy. Deonte had a little bit of a tug in his hamstring and he should be fine. Mike Pouncey had a little bit of an ankle, but he should be fine. I think we are going to go into this one ready to go."

He even saw some things and some players that may be able to help him in the upcoming weeks.

"At the end of the first half, we have to manage that better," Meyer said of a drive that ended inside the opponent's 20 yard line with no points going into the half. "With 15 seconds left on the clock, we have to take a shot at the end zone or clock it right there. Those are things we try and simulate in practice and we don't get that. Three points matter these days."

Some young guys caught his attention.

"Gillislee ran hard," he said. "To see a team that doesn't go in complete reverse (with the second team in there)…we have seen that before…because they are nonfunctional. Omarius Hines has a lot of talent. We have to get him the ball more and more."

Meyer squashed any thought of getting locker room bulletin board material leading into this week. He and Vol Head Coach Lane Kiffin haven't seen eye to eye to say the least in this first of Kiffin's offseasons.

"This thing is about the Tennessee football players and Florida football players," he said. "The thing I won't let it be about is a couple of coaches. It is about preparation and playing a game."


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