Meyer Makes Point With Special Teams Video
Caldwell looked great today / CASEY
Caldwell looked great today / CASEY
GatorCountry.com Managing Editor
Posted Mar 29, 2006


Just before the Florida Gators took the field Wednesday for their first spring practice, Coach Urban Meyer and his staff showed the team a videotape of the top 20 special teams plays from the 2005 football season. Meyer had a point to make to his team and the video did a great job of reinforcing what he's been preaching since he got to Florida --- games are won and lost with the kicking game.


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"We spent some time today and showed the 20 top special team plays at a team meeting," said Meyer. "You take away a blocked field goal against Florida State, you take away the blocked field goal against Tennessee, you take away the blocked punt against Iowa and you take away the special teams play against Tennessee and it's not a very good year and we're sitting here kind of sick to our stomachs."

The special teams made the difference in winning and losing in those games and Meyer wants his players to understand that just as many or games are won in the kicking game than in any other phase.

"I don't think the high profile recruit sees himself winning games," said Meyer. "He sees himself playing tailback. He doesn't think playing kickoff return is that important but I think that's changing."

Meyer wanted the video to be a reminder that playing on special teams is indeed a big deal and his players should work hard to earn spots in the special teams lineup.

"It was powerful," he said. "Of the nine games we won, seven of them were won with great effort and the kicking game."

The first day of spring wasn't without a few small surprises.

Rising sophomore tailback Kestahn Moore was dressed out but limited to walking continuously around the practice fields. He has a back injury and there is uncertainty about what to do next.

"One time you hear surgery and next time you hear no surgery," said Meyer, noting that the evaluation on Moore is ongoing. "He won't practice for awhile."

Defensive tackle Stephen Harris was a notable no-show for day one of spring practice as was linebacker Kalvin Baker, who took a red-shirt as a freshman last fall.

"Stephen Harris is taking care of some personal issues right now," said Meyer. "He has a little bit of work to take care of before he's welcome back here. He's got some personal issues to do that we're taking care of in-house."

The situation with Baker seems a bit more tenuous.

"I'm not sure of his status," said Meyer. "Kalvin might be making a move."

INGRAM LOOKING GOOD: Cornelius Ingram made the move from quarterback to tight end/H-back just before the Outback Bowl game. Now he's starting to show that he's got the body for the position. Ingram enters the spring at 6-4 and 235 pounds.

"CI had a really good day," said Meyer. "He has three years of eligibility left and it can be ridiculous what he can be like so we just have to do a good job of developing him."

UPDATE ON BUBBA: Wide receiver Bubba Caldwell will wear a no-contact jersey all spring but he showed that the speed is starting to come back during some pass receiving and skeleton drills. Caldwell broke his femur in the Tennessee game last year and has had a long, tough rehabilitation to get back to this point. He's expected to be full strength by the fall.

"Andre is in that little shirt that he has to wear because of no contact," said Meyer. "His attitude was terrific and it was great to see him back."

Meyer said that Caldwell is also starting to regain the muscle bulk that was lost when he had his leg in a cast, praising both Caldwell and the training staff for doing "a great job of rehabbing that thing."

EYES ON THE FRESHMEN: The Gators have four true freshmen participating in spring practice. The newcomer with the highest profile is Tim Tebow, the five-star rated (by Scout.com) quarterback from Ponte Vedra Beach Nease. Also participating are offensive linemen Carl Johnson and Maurice Hurt and tailback Chevon Walker.

Walker was outstanding in a punt block drill while Tebow showed some serious zip on the ball in the passing drills.

Meyer understands that so much is expected so early from Tebow and perhaps his freshman phenom might be pushing it a little too fast.

"I thought he would be a little bit more comfortable because he ran similar stuff in high school but I think he's out here and wants to set the world on fire instead of just completing passes but he's going to be terrific," said Meyer. "He's a try hard guy and he's going to work extremely hard. He did fine today."

Johnson and Hurt both have a way to go working on the offensive line, but Meyer likes his two big guys.

"Carl Johnson has a long, long way to go," said Meyer. "He's probably the most talented of all the freshmen that are here but probably has the furthest to go, just work ethic and figuring out he's going to be blocking guys his own size now. That's common though, a big guy like that, a 350 pound guy … not 350-pound guys in high school but he's going to be blocking some big guys so it will take him a minute. We're very pleased with Maurice Hurt. He's got to get in shape but his attitude and work ethic are terrific."

HOOPS INSPIRATION: Meyer is excited about the Florida basketball team which is in the Final Four and could be considered the favorite to bring home a national championship. He won't be in Indianapolis Saturday because the Gators will practice for the first time in full pads and it's a junior day, but should the Gators win against George Mason, "I plan on being there Monday if I have to cancel practice."

What impresses him the most about Coach Billy Donovan's basketball team is the way they have come together as a real team, caring and unselfish in every way.

"I keep hearing great team," said Meyer. "There are good players there, probably great players but that's not important. It's a great team and I love the way they care about each other. I think that team really cares about each other. I couldn't say that about our team last year. Near the end, I think so … near the middle, no."


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