Meyer Dispels Transfer Rumors

While rumors ran rampant Wednesday about Dominique Easley and Ronald Powell leaving the team, they jogged to the practice field. Any issue that there was between the two freshmen and the team is now smoothed over, and head coach Urban Meyer insists that everything is fine.

"I'm not sure what talk," Urban Meyer said. "It's all good. We're doing great. Our freshman class is doing great. I keep hearing this, and I keep hearing that. Everything is in good shape."'

Meyer did confirm that the two missed "part of practice" on Tuesday, but he wouldn't explain why or if the absence was excused. The head coach said there was never a conversation to clear the air with the players, and they have been at practice since.

"That 'transfer' word never came out of their mouths," Meyer said.

INJURY UPDATE: Left tackles Xavier Nixon and Matt Patchan will both miss Florida's season opener against Miami (OH). Nixon had his right knee scoped and Patchan had a pin put in his right wrist. Meyer said that the goal is to "perhaps" have them back for the second game.

The Gators got a scare when Jordan Reed injured his knee. Reed has a deep bruise near his knee, and the timetable for his return is uncertain.

"We thought we lost him," Meyer said. "That's a pain tolerance thing, so we don't know when we'll get him back."

Brandon Hicks is dealing with a sprained thumb but will be full speed Monday.

OFFENSIVE LINE STARTERS: With Nixon and Patchan out for the first game, Florida immediately begins searching for a starting left tackle. Mike Pouncey said Tuesday that he was prepared to move to right tackle, sliding Marcus Gilbert to left tackle if needed.

"I don't think we're going to do that," Meyer said. "We had that discussion, but I was opposed to that because it's the first game and I want the ball to hit the quarterback in the hands. Don't want the bad new bears out there."

Meyer wouldn't speculate on who could potentially play left tackle in the opening game, instead leaving that up to offensive line coach Steve Addazio.

"I'm not sure who it is out there," Meyer said, "but I don't think we're going to put Mike there as of now."

FRESHMEN LEADERS: When Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes first stepped on campus as freshmen, Meyer could tell they would be capable of leading their side of the ball. He is still searching for those players in this freshman class.

He mentioned Ronald Powell and Matt Elam as being the types of people that players gravitate towards, but the search continues.

"I think Sharrif Floyd is a great leader right now," Meyer said while naming a few others. "Trey Burton… boy, he's a heck of a football player. You get a guy and then they exceed your expectations, and he's done that so far. He's really done a nice job."

Meyer characterized Burton's position as someone who will play quarterback and do other things. From what the coaches have seen, Burton just wants to be on the field.

He's a perfect example of a player that has been better than the coaches expected.

"And we thought he was a real good one," Meyer said. "We'll see how he does in the game, but he's so versatile. He's so football smart. He's one of those guys you tell them one time and it's done. He's had a really good camp. I'm really proud of that guy."

Reed's injury opens the door for Burton and Omarius Hines to split time at tight end.

"Omarius Hines has been doing fantastic," Meyer said. He's going to be a big part of the offense. Him and Jordan were going to occupy that P position that was done by Aaron Hernandez last year, but it looks like Burton and Omarius will for the first game."

SECOND CORNER BATTLE: The Gators continue to get closer to securing the second cornerback across from Janoris Jenkins. Meyer doesn't know where he will line up, but Jeremy Brown has guaranteed himself as a starter.

"He'll start," Meyer said. "He'll either start at nickel or probably start at corner."

Florida has plenty of options at the nickel. If it's a small, shifty wide receiver, they can use Brown there. If it's a more physical player, Matt Elam can slide in and play nickel.

"Jeremy and Matt Elam will occupy the nickel spot, and we'll be in a lot of nickel this year," Meyer said. "Jeremy is full speed now. We watched him during two-a-days when he was full tilt. It makes you feel good to see that guy go."

Moses Jenkins is another player that will see the field plenty. If the Gators open in a nickel formation, Jenkins and Brown could each be on the field as starters.

"They've paid their dues," Meyer said. "Imagine their families coming up here to watch them start at the University of Florida. That'll be really cool for them next week."

NO LINEBACKER STARTERS: Meyer and linebackers coach DJ Durkin have both been hesitant to name starters at linebacker. The battle continues for each starting spot, but the Gators will also play multiple people at the position.

When asked for starters, Meyer listed AJ Jones, Brandon Hicks, Jon Bostic, Jelani Jenkins and Lorenzo Edwards.

"Those are our three," Meyer joked. "I can't give you the three that will start because I'm not sure."

Meyer also named Neiron Ball, who "isn't starting, but he'll play." The Gators will also have depth from Dee Finley. His move from safety to linebacker has taken a transition, but he will be a backup this season before the depth chart opens up next year.

"Great fall," Meyer said. "He got dinged a little bit, but he's doing well. He's up to 220 and a SAM linebacker."

AGENT ISSUES: Meyer recently participated in another conference call to eliminate the agent issues in college football. Texas head coach Mack Brown, Alabama head coach Nick Saban, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops and Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel also participated.

"We're just going along with the process," Meyer said. "What you find out is it's not like running a team. It takes forever. There were a lot of good minds on there and a lot of people who want to do it right."

With the season starting soon for the college coaches, their role in the talks will soon minimize. Meyer does expect representatives from all sides of the conversations to have a meeting soon.

"I think it's evaluate the rules, enforce the rules, and then try to stop what's going on," Meyer said. "That sounds real easy, and it does to a coach until you get on the phone and then it's "wow, I never thought of that." I was just a listener to hear what was going on."

The stigma of agents has recently been dirty people who are in it for themselves. Meyer has been in contact with multiple agents that changed that perception in no time.

"It's refreshing for me to get that," Meyer said. "You kind of get stereotyped as a bad guy as an agent. Around here, you probably do a little bit. But I learned my lesson talking to a lot of great guys out there that are just trying to do their jobs."

BRIGHTER TEAM OUTLOOK: When Meyer last spoke to the media on Monday, the mood wasn't optimistic. He was depressed about his team playing sluggish and looking sloppy.

Meyer's demeanor Thursday was completely different.

"We had a good practice today," Meyer said. "It's day-to-day. It's just (improved) attitudes and I think they're starting to get it a little bit. They're starting to get their legs back. They were fatigued because they were still miserable from training camp. Now they're starting to get it back."

The optimism springs from players regaining their speed and their legs coming back as they prepare for the opening game. The heat and humidity of fall camp drained everyone's energy, but it's something Meyer and his players have grown used to.

"We haven't had any cold ones," he quipped.

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR CHANGES: It was a surprise Charlie Strong lasted as long as he did in Gainesville. When Louisville came calling and he left to be their head coach, all Meyer could do was celebrate their time together.

"I wish Charlie all the best," Meyer said, noting that Strong's first game is Thursday. "I get to see my boy."

Meyer hired George Edwards to be the linebackers' coach and defensive coordinator before he was hired as the defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills. It sent the Gators into a late search for another defensive coordinator.

He was familiar with Teryl Austin since Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio and quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler worked with Austin in the past. However, it was a special connection to Austin that gave Meyer the nudge to hire him.

"The best man in my wedding was the defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals," Meyer said. "I'm not going to hire someone I don't know, but I didn't know him. I hammered my best friend more than I did Teryl about what I'm getting here. It was a very strong recommendation."

The importance of Saturday's scrimmage couldn't be bigger in Meyer's mind, but it doesn't have much to do with what happens on the field. It will be a run-through for the coaches heading into next weekend's season opener. Meyer will have coaches on the sideline during the scrimmage that will be there during the game, while the coaches who will spend Saturdays in the booth will have to stand away from the sideline. Meyer wants to mimic a game atmosphere as much as possible.

Once the defensive coaches get into the meeting room, there is a feel that Meyer wouldn't trade.

"There are basically four coordinators in that room now," Meyer said. "I love having four of the most powerful guys in there with ideas and then one guy, who's not an ego guy, running the show. I'm comfortable with that right now."

OFFENSIVE CHANGES: With John Brantley taking snaps at quarterback this season, the Florida offense will see changes. Brantley can run, but he doesn't have the frame to withstand the pounding that Tebow took in Gainesville.

"It's going to look different," Meyer said. "If you asked me that in the middle of the summer, I couldn't answer that. But it's going to look different. We'll use some things that we have not done, including when Chris Leak was here. There will be some interesting things to look at."

DEALING WITH THE INTERNET: The difficulties of coaching a major football program have been made more difficult recently by the increasing coverage on the Internet. The rumors about Easley and Powell started on a Florida website, and it only creates more headaches for the coaching staff.

"You know what coaches want to do?" Meyer said. "They want to move away and go coach a team and play a game. That has changed in the last 15 years. You don't do that. You've got to get asked a bunch of things. Everybody is doing their jobs."

It's not about the effect it has on the Florida coaches. It has more to do with other sources that don't need to be bothered.

"It's not for us," Meyer said. "It's these young people. Some high school coach got 50 calls because some guy put a blog on whatever."


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