MCLEOD: Practices are more up-tempo on Day Two

GatorCountry.com
Posted Mar 18, 2005


Defensive tackle Ray McDonald summed up in eight words what visitors to the Florida Proving Grounds have been describing as the biggest difference between the Spurrier, Zook, and Meyer practice philosophies.

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"Up tempo," said the 285-pounder who will be a junior in the fall. "Everything is competitive around here now. "

"Up tempo" was the catch phrase attributed to the Zook era after the tireless coach took over for Steve Spurrier. Zook drilled hustle and compete into his players. Meyer demands hustle and victory which should bode very well for the future of Florida football.

That McDonald and his teammates have bought into The Meyer Method is obvious in more than just words. Just watching practice you see these guys can't wait to compete, even in repetitive drills. In The Meyer Method, everything is done with a purpose and there are winners and losers. Winners get bragging rights.

The first win-lose situation of the spring is Saturday morning when the Gators don pads for the first time to hit in a scrimmage that will feature goal line and short yardage offenses.

"We're definitely looking forward to getting out there and playing," McDonald said. "Let's see who the man is out there. They (running backs) can say what they want. We'll see who wears the pants out there."

The Belle Glade native made these comments with unquestionable enthusiasm which bordered on impatience.

The attitude on the practice field mirrors McDonald's comments. As the receivers worked getting off the line of scrimmage on the snap today, it was obvious that McDonald wasn't just uttering an aloof assertion.

There were some interesting and fun battles considering players were just wearing helmets and shorts.

Reggie Lewis, Vernell Brown, Dee Webb, Terrence (Hot Tamale) Holmes and Kyle Jackson were among the best of the defensive backs at denying receivers a lane to run by them. These guys were pretty consistent in establishing their ground throughout the drill.

The drill forces the receivers to fight and get a little creative. Dallas Baker and Andre Caldwell were among the wide receivers who demonstrated the ability to find a way out of the box in today's drill.

Overall among the defensive backs, Brown had a very good day. He was solid in coverage and was able to either get his hands in there or pick off the pass. Brown screeched or yelled each time he thought he had a certain turnover.

Kyle Jackson looked pretty solid on all but one play at safety. The Neptune Beach Fletcher graduate failed to get deep enough, allowing Chad Jackson to catch a ball down the middle on him.

What could have been one of the prettiest plays was cornerback DeShawn Carter's jump on a pass intended for Mike McIntosh. Carter dropped the ball. He should have hung on and taken it to the house.

Several players had picks or near picks during the drills. Linebacker Earl Everett cut in front of a pass intended for Chad Jackson. Defensive lineman Michael Hill picked off a pass and ran downfield. Even McDonald picked off a pass and trotted back to the end zone with the ball.

It is ever so obvious that the enhanced competition is serving to inspire players this spring. Certainly, the desire to impress a new coaching staff would have been in place regardless, but come the first scrimmage…there will be a heavy emphasis on winning. And winning is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Florida program.


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