Meyer wants tougher Gators

Fishermen know that getting a big one on the line is meaningless unless you can close the deal. That's the message first-year Florida coach Urban Meyer is trying to convey to the Gators.

Florida was one of the South's greatest underachievers last fall, routinely fading in the fourth quarter en route to a 7-5 record. Exit Ron Zook. Enter Meyer, who believes the key to a turnaround in 2005 can be summed up in two words:

1. Toughness

2. Conditioning

"We have to finish the game," Meyer told reporters gathered in Birmingham this week for SEC Media Days. "You need to play as hard at the end of the game as you do at the beginning… You've got to close the deal. I think it (success) is tied directly to that, and I'm not sure how tough our football team is."

The Gators were great frontrunners last fall, routinely using their speed and athleticism to dominate lesser foes. When a game was close entering the fourth quarter, however, Florida seemed to run out of gas.

"Athletes like we have at Florida can run away with the game," he said. "I want to know what's going to happen when it's 13-13 in 90-degree heat. I think that's the biggest question mark: Can we finish the deal and do we have the toughness to hang in there when things are not going well?"

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