SEC FOOTBALL: Coach Urban Meyer Talks


Posted Jul 27, 2005


Coach Meyer spoke at length in his first appearance before the media at SEC Football Media days with over 700 reporters in attendance. Here's his quotes.

For more SEC Football Media Days coverage, click here...


COACH URBAN MEYER

Thank you very much. It's great to be here, and I appreciate you having me. It's a great time of year. And I think for all of us certainly we do our jobs, you do your job, I do my job. But it's great to be a part of the greatest sporting event in the country about to come up. And our players are excited, coaches are excited, the SEC the fans are very excited to get this thing going.

38 days and approximately four hours we're kicking this thing off September 3rd down in Gainesville, Florida. Our players are doing a really excellent job. We're not complete, and everybody makes a big deal about their players and how they prepared this summer. We finish up on Wednesday and ultimately want to have the ultimate goal of every coach this time of year is making sure you are mentally and physically prepared and ready to go. And I really believe unless something horrible happens in the next few days my team is mentally, physically ready to go and attack training camp.

I will take any questions.

Q. What duties will C.J. Leak have on your staff. Will he have any on-field responsibility?

COACH URBAN MEYER: No. C.J. Leak is Chris Leak's brother looking to get into coaching. He will simply be an office hand, stuff envelopes, address envelopes. Make sure that he is an office hand, that is strictly all he will do.

Q. How did you feel about the learning curve of your team learning your system?

COACH URBAN MEYER: Very positive. You can compare it to Bowling Green, compare it to Utah. And I think comparing it to Utah, you took a high formation offense at University of Florida, Chris Leak and Mike Degory working together. He's operating a good majority out OF the shotgun, so I think you start with the basics that you can take a snap and operate the fundamentals of the offense. There is no question you can do that. He put things in a much faster pace and see how you play on the schedule. Put things in quickly. The comment I just made, I start meetings with staff on Monday. Offense, first year has been okay. Second year is really good. We need to bypass that first year. I think if our players stay healthy, because we don't have a lot of depth. Intelligent players in the shotgun offense. Put things in much quicker.

Q. The Mountain West this year is going to have instant replay. To challenge would you rather allow SEC coaches to challenge in the ballgame or live with it?

COACH URBAN MEYER: I kind of like the way I was in the meetings. Several coaches in the Big 10, they are in favor of it. Any time you get to right a wrong, the way I look at it, I think it's good. As far as challenges, I am not familiar with it. Other than the way it was presented to me, I look forward to the way we're going to do it.

Q. This is the best football conference in the country. With your history and everything you have done personally, what do you do look you adjust in playing in the conference? What do you have to do? What does Florida have to do to get to Atlanta?

COACH URBAN MEYER: I think that's a great point. I will tell you this is, my respect for the SEC goes much further back to 2005. If you would ask me the last 19 years what I believe the best conference in college football was I would have said SEC. I have after watching the tape and studying the tape and seeing the coaching in this conference, I think the fans, a lot of times you know what's overlooked. I have coached on staffs when he have to get ready to maybe use a silent count once or twice a year. Every away game the SEC from what I have been told is your dealing with noise issues. There is no -- and really I have nothing to gain in the SEC but if you asked me a year ago the if SEC is the best conference in college football, I think people would challenge that you would have to watch a lot of tape, top to bottom. Best conference in college football. What does Florida have to do? I think there are two things we are dealing with. I think we're fine. I have never taken that approach. We have to finish the game. I mean you need to play at the same at the end of the game you do at beginning? How to do that you do that by incredible conditioning and great trust among the teammates and a will to win. You have to got to close the deal. I think it's tied directly to that. I don't think how tough our football team is. Athletes like we have in Florida can run away with the game. I want to know when it's 13 to 13 and 90 degree heat, I think that's the question. I think the biggest question mark, are we fast enough, sure we can run. Can we finish the deal and do we have the toughness to hang in there when things are not going well. That's the two questions.

Q. What were you able to accomplish at your last two stops, especially a year ago with Utah? Can you assess how excited you are now about your systems especially the offensive system and the level of talent as compared to what you have been able to work with in the past. How is this level of talent at Florida different at all?

COACH URBAN MEYER: There's a common theme of Coach Meyer and his staff. We have taken over programs with very good players. This is no exception. When you are talking about systems, systems don't work unless you know that's where I try to redirect all the focus. You can say Urban Meyers does haven't an offense. It's Chris Leaks offense. That the offense at Utah, Utah offense, Urban Meyer offense, whatever you want call it. You take Alex out of there.

As a matter of fact, I took him out a couple of times. I want to put him back in. He didn't move quite as well. The system is in place. It's a player system. What we try to do is if you can make plays. You are a talented guy. I have got to get you the ball. That's what I do well.

How do we do that?

It changes every year. So it will be a different look at Utah, absolutely. The concepts that will be similar. Absolutely, so I think a lot like if we really study Bowling Green to Utah to Florida you will see a lot of differences, and it's all based on personnel. Most importantly, the guy handling the ball which is the quarterback.

Q. Urban can you talk about some of the off-the-field things you have had to get used to as far as the interest and the peripheral, obviously, much greater in SEC and in Florida than Utah or any place you have been?

COACH URBAN MEYER: All the Gator clubs and speaking issues didn't look so bad back in the month of May. I will have to look that over because I am a person that enjoys being around my family and my players.

I will be honest. I don't really like to do anything else. Spending that much time away from your players. I didn't feel like. They are special and I don't know them very well. I will relook at that, rethink it.

I read some of the things. I didn't realize it until I read in the paper all the days. That's probably too much to be honest with you. Your job is to coach a football team and make sure of the behavior of the football team get to know your guys, that's your job. I understand other things are part of it as well. I am not sure many other programs ask you to do kind of things that we were asked to do this Spring.

Q. Coach, have you had any conversations with Steve Spurrier, whether about the special challenges of coaching at Florida or golf anything?

COACH URBAN MEYER: No. I visited I gave him a call when I first hired at Florida. I saw him, I believe, in Destin for an hour. We sat and talked, but more about family. He has two daughters in Florida, and I got to meet them. And football related, no. And certainly golf related, we didn't discuss golf.

Q. Urban, can you talk about how you inherited this level of talent at Florida. And when Steve came in '90, it was the similar situation, a lot of talent. How much easier is that when you watch it on film and watch the spring practices? What do you see?

COACH URBAN MEYER: Well, in the same breath, you say talent. You can say that there is a significant concerns at certain positions and depth. I do believe or AIA's are guys that are premium players and are very good. You know, are they what people are making them out to be?

We will find out on September 3rd if they are. At times, they do, and at other times, you know, we have got a lot of work to do. What is an advantage, and I made this comment earlier and I really believe this, a bunch of good coaches on there, stuck in good programs with not very good players. Because of that, they don't survive very long.

In Florida, you can compete because you are recruiting some premium football players. But does it make it easier. Obviously, it makes it a lot easier.

The style of game that we play, which is fast, speed game, the talent that's in the program right now is conducive to what we do. A lot of times, you can be too tight in house with programs, and also you come in with not that kind of talent. You can also be a spread team like we first went in with Utah. Receivers, we didn't have any. They developed and turned out to be good players. I think the talent is there a conducive to the style of play that our staff is looking for.

Q. Coach, when you are coming into a new situation, what are some of the keys to, I guess, bringing the team onto your page of the way you want to do things beyond just X's and O's on the field and recruited by another staff and another head coach?

COACH URBAN MEYER: I think that's an advantage of a place like Florida. I think it is more of a disadvantage like at Bowling Green. I hate to go back. At Bowling Green we suffered losing seasons. The kids that were recruited there, a lot them went for a free education, nothing much more, because the visions of winning championships haven't happened around there in a long time. Same thing at Utah. I think it wasn't quite the same as Bowling Green, but, you know, it wasn't the same as Florida.

You go into Florida, a young guy signs at the University of Florida to compete SEC. I think the resistance was minimum because everybody in the program wants to win. I'm really convinced you don't sign that letter of intent. I am going to Florida for other reasons. You go to play at the highest level and the Southeastern Conference and compete for SEC championships, that's why the resistance has been minimum.

Q. Coach, can you talk about the pressure of living up success of the Spurrier. What is the game going to be like to go in South Carolina?

COACH URBAN MEYER: He became a Florida football in the '90's. I think that's documented, however that's over. That is past history, that's old news.

I am worried about September 3rd, and I think that the fact that Coach Spurrier being back in the conference is great for national exposure. I think it's great for the game because I think he is an excellent coach. But for me to worry about anything other than getting this team ready September 3rd, I would be a failure to our players and that's all that matters.

Q. You talk about wanting Florida to be a tougher team. Did you leave a tougher team than you found at Florida, and can you just talk about what you saw this Spring and where Florida needed to get tougher?

COACH URBAN MEYER: Did I leave it?

Q. When you saw Florida needed to get tougher, did you leave behind at Utah. Did you find they're a tougher bunch?

COACH URBAN MEYER: I don't think that's a -- I don't look at it that way. When you evaluate our job, evaluate what we have and where we are. Also, you don't spend a lot time, and you go back and watch and you see what happened, especially with some of the same personnel that [your|you are] dealing with.

I am not going to compare them with the team we just left. However, when you just evaluate in the weight room and watch them Spring in practice, you watch matt drills, that's how you evaluate the toughness of [your|you are] program. Ability to finish. Starting to drill hard. Can you [finance|finish] when it gets real hard?

My evaluation after matt drills and after Spring practice was no. And I am hoping, and that was the theme for the summer, we can find out when we get the team out for two days. A big emphasis on getting tougher.

Q. Urban, new coaches coming in have a tougher time with the abbreviated Spring practices now. Where were you at the end of Spring and what kind of specific areas do you need to attach in the Fall?

COACH URBAN MEYER: I think you brought up a good point. All the changes in the amount of practices, two days. Actually, we have five double sessions. Remember back, when we had 15 to 20 double sessions. We only have five two-day practices. We have 15 spring practices where you have the first couple if you didn't do much. So many two-a-days and scrimmage days. I really like the way it sets up right now. I think it's never been better.

Certainly, new coaches, you put in a system. You would rather have more time, but I think there becomes a time where, for example, I notice some programs are bringing them in earlier. I think at Utah last year, I had the bring the team in two days earlier and I decided to give them extra two days off. I think you reach the point the diminished return when you beat up a team too much.

I want them excited, coaching staff excited, a program refreshed when you play that game. I think that's on of the secrets. Our tea wanted to play that game. It was hard to keep it in the locker room in that game. You had to rev them up with pre-game speeches. There were no pre-game speeches. Those kids wanted to go play. Hoping the get the same sense at Florida that the kids want to play. You have 29 practices. You have to be real smart during training camp.

Q. Coach, I read somewhere you played at Florida and it didn't turn out too well.

COACH URBAN MEYER: There was some really pretty girls up in the stands. I was 19 years old. That kind of tells you where my mind was. They were very good players and hot, that's all I remember.

Q. Coach, would you talk about has the team met your off-season expectation and then also would you talk about where your strength comes from, have they met your expectations there?

COACH URBAN MEYER: We have in depth or strength calls approximately six times a day. That's all I ask them. I don't ask them attendance. I don't want to know bench press strength. I ask them attitude. I want to know the guys. Do they want to work. Are they resistant. My staff was with me Notre Dame. The two best in the country. Not the best, the two best. In depth, probably 3 or 4 hour meetings and go through every name, in depth once again. Not attendance, not this, not that. Attitude, health, and that's the two things that all I care about. Are they healthy, are they ready to go and how's your attitude and so far it has been positive, but I will tell you more as we get going.

Q. Urban, can you describe matt drills for us?

COACH URBAN MEYER: Matt drills?

Q. Yes.

COACH URBAN MEYER: Matt drills are something that we do in -- actually start them in February. It's early morning, it's tough, it's extremely -- you know, I'd say the two things you try to develop out of matt drills are toughness and discipline.

Discipline, for example, keeping your feet behind your line or whole group starts over again. It's tough. Man versus man drills that we do. I think it's kind of signature of our program in the off season. You know, the players can talk a bit more about it, kind of what we do. It's hard. It's not as a coach. You don't really feel you are done, but [your|you are] really watch to see.

Through the two elements, try to find in Florida right now is toughness and finish. You can't survive in matt drills without toughness and finish. Without getting up here and demonstrating on you, that's all I can do right now. I can't do it. I will have somebody else do it.

Q. You were talking about how much you enjoy being around the players.

COACH URBAN MEYER: Well, to be honest with you, it's awful. You know, Friday night, as a coach, you go sleep with one eye open. You haven't seen them. I had one team meeting before the beginning of Spring. You are not allowed to go walk out in the weight room when the players are there. Get a hold of a guy and say how is going? Come up and see me. Let's just visit. Puts coaches in tough positions, absolute responsible for that team, that' the way it should be.

Our coaches are responsible, that's means getting off [your|you are] rear end and get out of the office, walking over to the door and seeing the players. That's whether they come over to your house once in awhile, where they come up once in awhile in your office.

The best assistant coaching I have been around they have always around players. When they are done lifting weights, go see their coach. That's the good coaches. We have very good assistant coaches that the players want to be around.

Q. Yeah. Coach, you brought several motivational ploys and ways to unify the team that are knew to Florida. Where did you learn these methods? How do you gauge their effectiveness?

COACH URBAN MEYER: Well, I have been fortunate to work for Lou Holtz and Bob Davey, four of the greatest coaches to coach this game. I also have been surrounded by a group of assistant coaches that spent a lot of time, how to motivate 18 to 22 year olds. Once again a strength coach. I hired I new training coach. I love the guy, all about the right thing.

It's all about the student athlete, that's what gets lost in the shuffle sometimes. I will be looking at a person thinking it doesn't matter how to run this play.

Can you get into the heads of your players? Can you hire a staff that more importantly to do. I have got coaches and I hope I will spending time with the players, and I think that's the most important thing is surrounding yourself with great people. Some of the things we do. That's not me, that's our coaching staff, that's coming up with a lot of great ideas.

Q. Coach, taking over a program is nothing new for you. Could you describe some of the challenges? And you say the system is really the players system, but taking over this program, when I will guess, and if you could describe the difference, the expectations on your arrival here are a little different than they were when they took over at Utah. For example, not everyone there didn't want to win, but what's expected right out the gate. Can you describe what that's like in the challenges of getting the players to handle your system and meet the expectations from people there?

COACH URBAN MEYER: That's a question other than Chris Leak running the offense, that might be the second question I get [most|months] often. I think if you meet our staff either at Bowling Green or whether at Utah, whether at Florida, all reflect of University of Florida. All due respect to the person I work for, but the biggest pressure comes from your coaching staff from within.

We get up in the morning, We go to work, and make sure our players have the best opportunity to win. 40 more thousand in the stadium and lot more media. At media day, a Mountain West Conference, that really has nothing to do with it. What has something to do with the drive to make sure you're players to be successful. That can be the most devastating thing that can happen to a coaching staff. That's why you work hard.

With all due respect to everybody in here that's not why we work hard. It seats 93,000; 45,700 at the other place. There is no difference in your mind. The difference is you want to Chris leak, Jarvis Herring and Mike Degory, you want them to win a game, if they're good enough, but you want to win that game if they're good enough.

Q. Coach, I guess this is a Chris Leak question, but, also, could you talk about how he is similar and [different|difficult] than Alex Smith was for you last year?

COACH URBAN MEYER: The first thing is they're similar. He is high character person. He is the [most|months] dedicated human being for academics, living right and preparing himself. Chris Leak is that kind of same mold. The kid works, has high character, comes from a great family. He is also develop leadership in the skills.

In the last few weeks or last few months or maybe we're there, may be just a young guy. He's a junior, that's when the leadership comes out in a young man. So I think there a lot of similarities between Chris and Alex. But the most important thing is competitive leadership and a high character human being. I want that guy receiving a snap from center.

Someone else I hear about and some of the stories and think someone else [could|company] take that snap every day. If you don't trust him, that would be a bad deal, that's not the case with Chris Leak, or Josh Harris the young man we had at Bowling Green.

Q. Coach, how much time do you spend with the players and your coaching style, motivating them and trying to get them do the things off the field as X's and O's?

COACH URBAN MEYER: I don't know that's a question I could answer, how much time.

A lot. I'll give you a good example. I coached before in a program when in the off-season you get in at 7:00 a.m. you watch film until 6:00 or 7:00 at night, and I go home. I look at my wife and realize I did not see a player today. I watched film, that's not how you win.

Coaches come in at 7:00. In the afternoon, I encourage them to go get something to eat, from 1:00 on, until -- I don't care, 9:00 - 10:00. Or at 5:00, you are with your players. If they are at the study table, you need to go over there. If they have a doctors appointment, and you need to go with them once in a while, you need to go down the training room. We can't lift with the players because you are not allowed. In your Spring, your running back is lifting down there not without a running back coach. I am not saying -- I don't know how many programs do that. I think that's one of the strengths. A coach is around as often as we can [been|be].

Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit about your team strengths. This might be [your|you are] first year, and maybe what you need to get better at in two days?

COACH URBAN MEYER: Offensively, I think we're fast. We have four receivers I feel very comfortable with. During a Spring, and from what I have heard from Chris Leak, they have been very successful this summer in working together. They're fast. I like fast players. [your|you are] going to find out -- well, I always look at top ten teams in the country, and every year they are the faster teams. I am impressed with that. Our running back, I am very concerned about strength right now. Quarterback is strength and first five-ten line can be very good.

Defensively, I think or strength is -- once again no depth, but I like our front seven. I think Brandon Siler, along with Ray McDonale, Marcus Thomas, Steve Harris, Joey Viscusi, we have some very good players up front.

I think our safeties are strong. I think our weakness is to make sure we can play man coverage. What we do is we play man coverage. Demetrice Webb and Donnelle (phoenetic) is a senior. Two is not enough, especially when you are facing team playing four receivers, that's our biggest concern.

Q. A lot of coaches will be breaking in inexperienced quarterbacks. How [different|difficult] is that process and how fortunate are you to walk into a situation with a guy that's had two years?

COACH URBAN MEYER: Well, I think we have done that twice. When I took over at Bowling Green, Josh Harris was on tailback, before I got there. What you do is try to find a way to score once you get in the [red|read] zone.

When we did that at Utah our first year, that was exactly our plan. When you say the plan, the win, you have to play -- if you are in that situation of an arms race with someone that [your|you are] going to lose and you have to coach that way, you have to plan that way, you can't take the shots that you would normally take with an inexperienced quarterback. So that's a difference. I think, if you have an experienced quarterback. I let it go a little bit more. I think that's obvious. I think that's the way team operates.

One the biggest mistakes would be to let him go play and not keep the grips on him for awhile. Alex Smith's first game he started Cal Berkeley out at Utah and he didn't do a whole lot. I think I 22, 24 times, and those were passes that you might be able to complete. A lot of things we asked him to do, the next few weeks after we grew, I mean he had the whole gamut after he got going.

Q. Coach, I know you get two days to be getting ready for game one. When you glance at your schedule, before you start preparing for first game, what are the things in the schedule that jump out at you with a new place and new conference and everything that you are really looking for, whatever the case maybe?

COACH URBAN MEYER: I am not sure I understand your question. But I will answer it. If I didn't, re-raise your hand.

Q. Just things that jump out for the schedule for you?

COACH URBAN MEYER: The only time a coach really enjoys what he does is when you get to put on a whistle, some sun block now in Florida, go out and coach your players.

The other stuff you have got to do is part of the job. At times, you enjoy it, but the best time is coming up for the coach. You get to coach your players, and you know when you look at the schedule, it doesn't involve a lot of that. I think that's what's happened in the last 10 years I guess. Florida is more demanding place than Bowling Green.

What jumps at you is the amount of time that [your|you are] away from your team that's the hard part.

Q. Any opponents in particular or places that you are going to visit that you have or have not been in terms of Saturdays on your schedule this Fall?

COACH URBAN MEYER: Yeah. We have spent a lot of time watching. I think Bowling Green down here in the Florida and South in the Georgia and you know once again all rosters and watch this Fall. It's the best.

I am excited to go play these teams. Absolutely. I've got great respect to the players on the field. It's the best football in the country am I anxious to go. Darn right I am.

Would I say which one I am looking forward to?

I can't. Leo Shippard said this of the University Florida, with misty eyes, when he said that Leo Shippard, and he just gives our staffs impression of where we're at right now.

He played in the Super Bowl, and it is still his greatest moment was running out on the field in the swamp in the SEC conference. So that kind of tells you the power of Florida football and SEC, that's what we're looking for to.

Q. Coach, you seem to have been relatively free of off-the-field incidents since you have been at Florida. Do you have a policy of five and out? Three and out? One and done? How do you approach that?

COACH URBAN MEYER: First of all, if we do have issues, I want to come get you because you just jinxed us. [your|you are] like my wife when someone is pitching a no-hitter, she comes in in the 8th inning and says, "Do you realize there is no hitter going?"

I think media and administration, sometimes they're not the people that recruit the young man, they're not the people that know him, and everybody has got an opinion. I think each issue is different.

I would never wish some of the issues I read about on any person because you are dealing with young people's lives.

So do I one have a one year and out? Absolutely not. I have to know what happened. I have to know the issues involved. We do have a set of core values in our program. If they break a core value, good chance you are not playing football in Florida. Everything else is mistakes.

Do we have a one year and out? We deal with each issue as they come. Multiple issues, you have got a little problem. You have got a character flaw there. But everybody entitled to make a mistake.

Thanks for having me.


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