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Hunter: It's the Same Old Meyer
Posted Dec 27, 2010
Omar Hunter isn’t afraid to admit that these bowl practices feel different. It’s not only because Saturday’s Outback Bowl will be Urban Meyer’s final game as head coach. Will Muschamp takes over as Florida’s head coach on January 2, but he is already taking in some practices from the sidelines.
“It is pretty weird,”
said. “The young guys are fighting to show him they can play out there. We’re definitely aware (that he’s there).”
Hunter said Muschamp has watched most of the practices while standing right besides Meyer. The uncertainty on the practice field is tough. Players are being coached by assistants who might not be staying when January 2 comes. The defensive line knows it will have a new coach since
took over as the
The differences in these bowl practices aren’t just related to coaches. It will also be the last chance young players have to take the field with the seniors who have led the team this season.
“With it being Coach Meyer’s last game- when I came here, the guys who are now seniors were just sophomores,” Hunter said. “They taught me a lot. With them leaving and Coach Meyer leaving, it does feel like (the end of an era).”
On the field, Meyer looks the same as always to his players. The intensity and passion he showed on the practice field during the season hasn’t left as he prepares for his final game as a head coach this Saturday.
“He’s still coaching us,” Hunter said. “It’s just like he never said he was going to quit.”
The players have a feeling that something is different, but it hasn’t sunk in for Hunter that Meyer will be gone soon. The players remember the speech where Meyer told the team he wouldn’t be returning and remember feeling the “shock” initially, but seeing him on the practice field has made it difficult to let the fact sink in.
Hunter thinks that time will come this weekend.
“For me, it’ll be the day of the game when he gives that final speech after the game,” Hunter said.
To ensure that no players get in trouble off the field this week, the team has paired players up. Hunter is in charge of freshmen defensive tackles
. Hunter says he believes that Easley will return to the Gators next season despite rumors that he would transfer.
Easley and Floyd both considered
in the recruiting process. With both being from the northeast, Hunter has seen mixed ways that the two are handling it.
“For Easley, I haven’t heard too much from him,” Hunter said. “Sharrif, being from Pennsylvania, he’s definitely been more motivated.”
Easley and Floyd were two of the more highly rated members of this year’s freshman class. They came to
expecting Meyer to be the head coach for their entire college career. When he stepped down earlier this month, Hunter and the older players weren’t sure how the freshmen would respond.
Hunter gave them credit for being mature in the way they did.
“Those guys pulled together nicely,” Hunter said. “It was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. I know if I was a younger guy, I’d probably have felt heartbroken. They pulled together, and they’re taking it well.”
After winning a state championship in high school and two losses combined in his first two seasons of college, Hunter didn’t see this five-loss season coming. It’s unlike anything he has experienced in the past, but he believes it could drive the team in the offseason.
“It’s tough,” Hunter said. “It’s a hard thing to go through. I’m not too used to losing. At the same time, we’ve got to come and win the last one.”
Hunter also said that Jaye Howard practiced on Monday and looked “great.”
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