Meyer Monday Press Conference

Urban Meyer met with the media on Monday to discuss his team and mostly the upcoming game with SEC East foe South Carolina. The Gators remain ranked No. 1 in the country and undefeated on the season. With three games left on the regular season schedule, Meyer is intent on taking it one game at a time. Here is what he had to say.

Urban Meyer Intro: "It's great to come here as a team that is 9-0 and (we have) a great challenge this week.

On the Plan to win...

Urban Meyer:
"We played phenomenal defense, not great defense. Our defensive coaches are never satisfied in our players and they think we can play better. We had two drives that crossed the 50 yard line, forced eight punts, five times we forced three and outs, and had less than 200 yards in an SEC game which is a tremendous day."

"Turnovers, we have been better on offense the last two weeks. We plus four on the season and still nowhere near a year ago. However, the last few games we are playing better and creating turnovers on defense."

"Red zone production, we were four of five with three touchdowns and a field goal. I believe the last one was the only time we didn't with the back ups in there."

"In the kicking game, we are playing at a high level with eight of 10 goals reached."

Champions on Offense...

"Maurkice Pouncey, Jeff Demps, Riley Cooper, Mike Pouncey, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon James, Tim Tebow, Carl Johnson, Rick burgess, and Deonte Thompson. The offensive player of the game was David Nelson. He really played well and does a lot of things you just don't see."

Champions on Defense...

"Carlos Dunlap, Jermaine Cunningham, Justin Trattou, Joe Haden, Janoris Jenkins, A.J. Jones, Ryan Stamper, Will Hill, Ahmad Black, Major Wright, and the defensive player of the week was Dustin Doe. I am very proud of the way he performed."

"Something I have done a poor job of, and I apologized to these guys yesterday, is (talking up) our special teams players. These guys work as hard as any segment of our team and the emphasis is obviously there. This is the special team's room right here and you better to be a man's man to come walking in here. It is a tough room and they have performed very well for us. I just want to give you some stats."

"We lead the SEC in average starting field position. We lead the SEC in opponents starting field position. We have won the SEC player of the week four times on special teams and that is the most in school history."

"Caleb Sturgis is 4-4 on field goals of 40 plus yards and is playing with a lot of confidence right now. He has two 50-yarders this year, one of only three kickers in school history. The 56-yarder is the second longest in school history."

"We face kick off units that are among the best in the country each week. They have had eight TDs this year. We have held them to just 21 yards per return."

"We didn't allow a punt return yardage until the ninth game and that is because Chas Henry out-kicked our coverage. We will allow him to do that every once in a while."

"I love these guys (special teamers) too and wanted their families to see their names.

"A big part of our program is player development too, from Reggie Nelson to Louis Murphy, they all get developed (through special teams)."

"Dee Finley has done a tremendous job. Mike Gillislee, although he didn't play, he was begging to play during the game. His quote was, 'I can't lose my spot on kick off'. He is an unselfish guy and did a great player for us."

"Omarius Hines got his first opportunity to start on kick off and did a great job. Adrian Bushell got special teams player of the week this past week. He's on three units and played by far his best game as a Gator."

"Jon Bostic got the most significant time he has had. He started on kick off and punt for the first time and had two tackles on punt."

"Will Hill does a great job for us on kick off. Justin Williams, Joe Haden, Janoris Jenkins, and obviously Cade Holliday is one of our count on guys that does a great job."

"The correlation between (special teams) and winning can't get any stronger."

Media: How much is it a plus to have Tim Tebow as healthy as he has ever been? "Champions are made in November and our goal every year is to compete for a championship in November. He said (he was healthy) to me last week too. He has always had a shoulder, ankle, last year it was a hyper expended knee. Even though we had a few sacks, we are doing a better job of protecting him, and it's just great to have him this healthy."

Media: Talk about Tim Tebow being a short yardage specialist and being under appreciated.

Urban Meyer: "He has been that way for a while. He is one of the best short yardage runners I have ever seen. We don't have that other big back right now. Moody is getting better and we are going to give him more opportunities in situations. Tebow is probably under valued, not by us, but on a national level. Our third downs, we have led the SEC since he's been here in 3rd down efficiency. Most of that is him making plays."

Media: How much does that change the dynamic of the games?

Urban Meyer: "It just increases your possessions. Money downs are third downs. In his first three years he was our red zone and teams are tightening down on him a little bit. He is one of the best in college football history in short yardage and red zone production because of his ability to throw and run."

Media: Talk about Justin Trattou...

Urban Meyer: "He already has a job at Florida or somewhere as a coach, that is how much respect we have for him. He understands the game. He is going to go play the game for a while because he is such a competitor, but his knowledge of special teams and his work ethic. This profession needs Justin Trattou and Ryan Stamper to go coach some day. He is a tough and not many guys could do what he is doing."

Media: Ryan Stamper, some say he is too slow and too small?

Urban Meyer: "He is too slow (with a grin). The reason we recruited him is because he has a great mother named Gloria who is a great Gator fan. I wish I was joking (about being slow) but I was not." "I got hired in December and I was searching the Internet one night and saw this young man was committed to Auburn and I asked 'why is this guy going to Auburn?' We didn't recruit him, but I watched the video on the Internet on that little screen...we needed backers, so I got in the car the next day and drove over and met his mom, a great lady. He is too slow to play linebacker, but he is a great player. Our players love him and so do our coaches."

Media: Will Brandon Spikes play this week?

Urban Meyer: "Brandon Spikes will play this week."

Media: Talk about the Dorian Munroe injury...

Urban Meyer: "Dorian re-injured his knee, his ACL. I am not sure (about season ending); he is supposed to come see me. Dorian Munroe falls in the same category as Ryan Stamper and Justin Trattou and some other guys on this team, he is all Gator man."

Media: How would the offense's identity be different, or not, depending on how good the defense has been playing and at such a high level?

Urban Meyer: "A lot. I think it is game management. What we are lacking are the big hits. Other than the speed option, when your longest run was 12 yards, we need to get some hits. You look at last year and we had those hits. It is either sustain a block a little longer or take more shots down the field, but it is predicated by how we are playing on defense. In '07 it was back and forth and back and forth, so obviously game management was a little different."

Media: What is the key to attacking the sack problem?

Urban Meyer: "I wish it were one thing, it was, we would fix it. Is Tim holding the ball too long? Most of the time, no. Is it our best tackle who gave up one. Does that mean we change him? No, he is one of the best right tackles in the SEC." "Teams are doing a lot of drop eight into coverage. Really strong underneath coverage with three deep and five underneath. That is the evolution in the last couple of years, you either bring it, or you drop eight. Dropping eight is difficult for any team including our opponents to throw into."

Media: How much are the offense's problems execution versus coaching transition?

Urban Meyer: "I don't know that. We aren't in the evaluation phase, we are in the trying to get better phase. I think it's coaching transition, execution, and also some new players at new positions. It's the bundle of it. If it was one thing we would fix it. I am very pleased with our coaching staff. Very pleased with the development of our players and of our record. I am not pleased with the fact we don't have enough big plays. It is something we are continually addressing."

Media: When is the first time you flip on the film to watch Alabama?

Urban Meyer: "Obviously, it is the week of the game. We just can't afford that. I make sure we don't hear that around here. Our guys did a good job last week; there was a lot of stuff around here last week. We need to just go find a way to win the game."

Media: Did you ever say to yourself that "I want to be the measuring stick at a program somewhere"?

Urban Meyer: "No, I have always been an admirer of Tom Osborne, I had his picture in my room At Nebraska he was unbelievable. In weight lifting, they were just so far ahead of the curve. Woody hates, Bo Schembechler, I met him...the coach we are playing this week; I have great admiration for him as well. The guys that do it the right way I have always had great admiration for those guys."

Media: South Carolina, are they desperate?

Urban Meyer: "I know we are going to go into one of the best environments in college football. Their personnel and quarterback are playing much better. They have good personnel around him and our staff thinks they have some of the best receivers in the conference. Their defense is top four in the conference. I know they are playing at a very high level on defense and offensively they were at times. They are very explosive."

Media: Talk about the two contrasting match ups you have already had on the road at South Carolina...

Urban Meyer: "The first one was devastating as I can recall. That is no disrespect to South Carolina, it is just where we were, we were competing for the SEC East that day and we lost and didn't play well. I was very pleased with our performance two years ago up there that was one of our best games on offense. South Carolina's defense was very good that year. That was a loud place, an amazing place."

Media: Last time you talked to Spurrier?

Urban Meyer: "I don't talk to anyone during the season. Every meeting we talk and in the summer we talk when we see each other."

Meyer also talked more extensively about special teams, which we will have for you later.

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