Meyer Sunday Teleconference

The Florida Gators clinched the SEC East and a return trip to Atlanta yesterday after their 41-17 win over the Georgia Bulldogs combined with a South Carolina loss to Tennessee. Urban Meyer addressed how he thinks clinching so early will impact his team, plus he addressed the locker room rumors that came after the close win at Mississippi State.

Can you talk about clinching the division last night since that's always your first goal?
"We have such great respect for this conference and the teams in this conference and the history of this conference to represent the East in Atlanta is a great honor. You won't hear much talk about that this week though. We won't even talk about that today. We're going to really concentrate on Vanderbilt."

Is it because you've clinched so early and there are still games to play?
"I just think we're a really poor football team when we focus on anything else and we're facing a very talented football team."

Yesterday with the different looking offense with the I-formation looks, is that what the offense will be or more of an experiment?
"I think we're going to move forward with that. If it's successful, we haven't meet as a staff yet. I thought Steve did a great job of mixing up run and pass early in that game. Obviously in the second half we didn't play as well. But in the first half we did a good job of keeping a very talented Georgia team off balance."

With everything that went on last week, including Tebow and Spikes having an altercation in the locker room and then your finger-pointing speech…
"(Meyer interrupts) First, there was no finger-pointing speech and no locker room altercation. There was a very positive speech about staying focused on a great team with great talent. There was no finger-pointing speech. After the Mississippi State game, there was a very passionate speech about how we can play better. There was no altercation whatsoever."

Was all that stuff kind of the Ole Miss moment and how good was it to have that kind of "clear the air" type of meeting?
"At some point in February you do reflect upon moments during the season. Our focus in on Vanderbilt. One thing you have to admire about this team is that, I don't know Texas, but they're doing a great job of staying focused and playing one game at a time. Cincinnati, I don't know them, but I get home and I flip it on and there are teams that have the ability to stay focused. There's a reason why our defense and special teams were as good as they've ever been on that Saturday and that's because we stayed focused to win that game. If we can maintain that, then we have a good chance to win that game."

Spikes did admit after last night's game that he and Tebow did have a little skirmish. Was that just two brothers letting their frustrations out a little bit?
"There was no skirmish. There were some words said and it was much more than Tim. It was we can play better, and the offensive line, Mike Pouncey stood up and said I can play better. A lot of it was really good stuff. We have to be careful we don't put words in player's mouths. There were a lot of people taking responsibility, coaches that said they shouldn't have made that call on the 4-yard line."


At one point, the TV cameras pretty blatantly showed Spikes gouging someone's eyes out. Did you see that play and get to have a conversation with him?
"No I did not, and I'll have a talk with him today. He's a very emotional player. I'll have a very serious talk with him today."

Gillislee injury update…
"Gosh he played his best game as a Gator. On some of the kickoff returns he was legendary out in front of the wedge and disturbing some of the walls. One time he took up three blockers. I'm hearing it's a cramp, strain which is much different than a pull. I won't hear more until today. That's a critical one with Wondy out and Moses Jenkins out."

Other injuries…
"We've got a couple ankles but nothing major."

Is the team ready to get on a roll?
"I hope so, but our focus is just to get better. Last week, it was the ship is sinking. That's what I kept hearing. I kept hearing that the boat has holes in it and it absolutely does not. We have really good guys who go really hard and we play really good teams in the Southeastern Conference. I'm hoping we do hit a stride, but you can't worry about that."

If Rainey is out, does that mean Mike Gillislee moves up in the rotation if healthy?
"Possibly because we need more than two tailbacks. Brandon James is also a guy that can carry the ball for us."

Are you sensing that this true sophomore class is a very special group for you?
"I haven't looked at that way, but at some time I probably will. All those guys are good guys. They go really hard and they're all special teams performers, which shows there's an element of unselfishness about them. We're pleased with our recruiting right now, and we just need to continue it."

Could this be the most talented sophomore class in SEC history?
"There are some guys out there. Green dictated a lot of our coverage schemes out there and the guys did a great job with it. I don't know it's more than ever because my history is only five years. But we don't redshirt here at Florida, and I imagine the other ones don't. We don't go out and recruit with the intention of sitting a guy on the bench."

Does clinching relieve pressure on the team?
"I hope not. I like the urgency, I like the pressure and I think the players love pressure. Yesterday was about as pressure packed of a game I can remember around here. I'm not going to let that happen. Charlie Strong is not going to let that happen, and Coach Addazio won't let that happen. You want to relieve pressure, you can go transfer somewhere and play some ball and have fun. But if you want to play in meaningful, pressure packed situations, this is the place to be."

Do you think they'll play looser since they clinched?
"I think our quarterback did. We did some different things and he really executed well. We had some speed posts and Cooper making that catch. I don't think that's playing looser, but having more confidence in the things we're trying to do."

Would the Mississippi State thing be more of a concern if it wasn't a senior laden team?
"I didn't let it go. I was right in the middle of it. You have to get a visualization of what went on. I stood up and said something that we take great pride in is not putting our defense in bad situations. Last week against Georgia was a perfect example. I failed. It was like the fake punt against Arkansas a couple years ago. Had that not worked, it would have put our defense in a really bad position. So I started it and then Mike Pouncey said, ‘hey, I gotta play better.' There was no finger pointing. It was just guys saying we have to play better. In '06, everyone heard about the Auburn one. It was a very similar thing. We have to play better. We expect more out of you. It was very positive, and it wasn't just two or four guys."


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