Gators Practicing Like They Will Be Ready

There is a big question lingering with the University of Florida football program, and that is if these Gators will be ready to bounce back from their first loss in 23 games? Up next is the high powered attack of Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl. Will the Gators be down about not playing for all the marbles, or will the leaders on this team step up and garner back some lost respect for this team?

The Gators have had four hard practices in the last week and head coach Urban Meyer feels they have been very productive.

"I was real pleased, I liked the attitude and like the effort," Meyer said Monday morning after the last practice before the team reconvenes on December 26. "This is a hell of a good team and you don't realize how good they are until you saturate yourself with them. They are a really good team."

Meyer himself isn't quite sure how this team will bounce back and just how they feel. He believes the swagger is hard to get back until you get another win under your belt.

"I think the only way to get that completely out of your system is to go win the next game," he said. "To say it is completely out of their system? No, I don't think so. I think the important thing this time of year is to go and meet their families and be thankful for what you've got."

Meyer has a couple of things going for him with this unit. He has a core of players that exemplify great leadership and this team has a knack for practicing hard.

"It depends on the team," Meyer said when asked how to prepare a team for a bounce back. "This is a tough one because of the significance of it. I talked to a couple of the Alabama coaches and it's all in who you play, how hard you practice, and the leadership on your team. That is all to be determined."

The Gators will be one big name short for the Sugar Bowl. Return man and starting receiver Brandon James is out because of a stress fracture in his foot.

"Brandon James will not play," Meyer said. "He had surgery on his foot. Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps on kick returns and possibly Joe Haden on punt returns. He is a heck of a player, especially in the return game. The thing is Rainey and Demps are very capable guys and I am excited to see them go get it."

The team hasn't received final grades and there is no news on any players that might not be available for the game due to grades. Meyer did say there are no suspensions for the game. "I think everyone is good to go," he said.

Meyer said that he is not near a decision on hiring another defensive coach right now after the departure of defensive coordinator Charlie Strong who is headed to Louisville as the head coach. Strong will remain on to coach the defense for the Sugar Bowl.


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