Meyer Pleased with the Progress

Urban Meyer

It's still too early in fall camp for Urban Meyer to make any judgments. The energy and passion on the practice field looks good to the head coach, but even though they've gone through one scrimmage, it's still too difficult for him to judge where his football team is at right now. They're still trying to make it from one day to the next.

"We're happy with where we're at. We're not very good yet, but we don't have to be," Meyer said. "We've got a couple more weeks. I'm very pleased with this team, but like I said, we won't win a bunch right now. All I care about right now is attitude, and it's hard."

The Gators will have two practices on Wednesday before taking Thursday off. The team will have two practices again on Friday before only a scrimmage Saturday morning.

On Monday, they will head into their first of two weeks of game preparation.

"Right now, it is absolutely miserable hot," Meyer said. "Get to the next day. It's motivation, chemistry building and great meetings at night. It's not identities or identifying who the best d-lineman is. We're nowhere near that."

INJURY UPDATE: Steve Wilks will miss four weeks with a back injury. Lawrence Marsh is still battling a hamstring injury but is expected to return in the next few days. Xavier Nixon is dealing with a sprained ankle, but Meyer downplayed the severity of it.

Chris Rainey went full speed on Tuesday for the second day in a row. Matt Patchan "wasn't practicing, but he went full speed on the side." Jeff Demps practiced after missing a few days with a concussion.

JORDAN HADEN TRANSFER: Florida officially released Jordan Haden from his scholarship on Monday without any limitations on the schools he can transfer to. The Florida coaching staff will do whatever they can to help him.

"He's a great young man," Meyer said. "When you have that name on the back of your jersey, that's darn near Tebowish or Pounceyish. When you start talking about the name, there's an expectation level. He'll be fine, and we're going to help him do what he can. I was worried about it when we first started recruiting him. Those are tough shoes to fill right there."

STRIPES PROCESS: Meyer spoke about the process of removing the stripes from the helmet of his freshmen. He called it a process aimed to "de-recruit and get rid of the nonsense." When the stripe is removed, a freshman is no longer a recruit. He becomes a member of the Florida football team.

A veteran teammate of the freshman is deemed as his big brother when the young players get to campus. When the stripe is removed, the big brother speaks, as well as his position coach and Coach Meyer. It can come after practice or in a meeting room.

"Sometimes it's very emotional, because now he's a Gator," Meyer said. "His helmet is like everyone else's."

Gerald Christian and Ian Silberman had their stripes removed Tuesday.

OFFENSIVE CHANGES: The changes to the Florida offense will be there this season, but no one knows what exactly they will look like. Meyer still claims that the coaching staff isn't exactly sure.

"We all know what Johnny Brantley can do," Meyer said. "We know we've got a strong offensive line, and a pretty good picture of what our running backs can do. The final piece of the puzzle is the group out wide, and we can't say that yet. If they're dynamic, you'll see us in three or four wides. We're going to build around what we've got."

The playmakers are beginning to identify each other. Meyer would still like a clear order of his playmakers, but some veteran players are beginning to step up.

"When you talk about the playmakers, we've got Demps and Moody," Meyer said. "They're set now. We're still trying to find out what the surrounding cast is. Deonte and Carl Moore are there. I'm hoping Omarius Hines gets there real soon. Quinton Dunbar is getting darn close. Andre Debose is struggling with dead legs now."

Hines will be used as a hybrid player that can line up at tight end or wide receiver. Just as Florida uses a position in the offense to mimic what Percy Harvin did, they recently added one that is similar to what Aaron Hernandez brought to the table.

"We're trying to create some positions in the last few years, a Percy position and Aaron Hernandez position," Meyer said. "When you have it, you can be dynamic."

DEFENSIVE LINE WAITING FOR PLAYMAKERS: Depth won't be an issue for the defensive line this season. The coaching staff is still waiting for players to emerge as superstars at the position, especially at defensive end.

"I'm concerned," Meyer said. "We're used to having some freaks out there. Trattou is doing really well. Ron Powell has to come on. William Green and Lerentee McCray, there's some guys with talent, we've just got to get them better."

Duke Lemmens has never been superstar player for the Gators. He played the role of serviceable backup, but this could be the season he plays a large role.

"He has a chance to start," Meyer said. "We all love Duke. He's a high-energy guy. He represents our program the way it's supposed to be. If we had a face, that's one of the faces."

Brandon Antwine could provide depth at defensive tackle. Meyer described him as a really good player "when he locks and loads and stays healthy."

The freshmen defensive linemen continue to steal headlines. Sharrif Floyd has been close to impossible to block after his first few days of practice, and Dominique Easley is coming along as well. But it's the third freshman defensive line the Gators are waiting on to make a move.

"(Powell) is a little bit behind those two, but he's coming on," Meyer said. "Sharrif Floyd and Easley are doing real well."

REENERGIZED SECONDARY: Will Hill admitted Monday that his focus wasn't clear during the end of last season. Coach Meyer has seen a new version of Hill this fall in camp.

"Night and day," Meyer said. "There were a lot of issues. He was a guy that drank the poison, or whatever you want to call it. He's going as hard as we've ever had a safety go around here. He and (Chuck) Heater have a really good deal going on back there."

Janoris Jenkins got a little of it as well. His numbers were down last season, and he didn't seem to have the impact he made during his freshman year. Now Meyer sees a player with extra focus.

"It's a little bit of the Will Hill thing," Meyer said. "We saw a little bit of decay. Change is good. Teryl Austin and Coach Heater have done a tremendous job."

Jenkins has become a leader in the secondary. He spends time working with the younger cornerbacks and helping them along.

"We have a big saying around here that's 'power of the unit,'" Meyer said. "His unit is really going well, and he's the leader of that unit. Night and day. You're going to see a really good player out there. No nonsense, 100% all the time."

RECRUITING PHILOSOPHY: Since Meyer came to Florida, they have run into negative recruiting from other schools who tell players that they aren't good enough to play for the Gators because of a loaded depth chart.

This is another year the Gators are experiencing it. After signing the top recruiting class in the country, Meyer hears from players that opposing schools continue to tell them they wouldn't see the field in Gainesville.

"We've had a couple years where we hit the home run on a recruiting class and people used that against us," Meyer said. "'Let's challenge Florida on their academics.' It's hard to do that. 'Let's challenge them on their program.' It's hard to do that. 'Facilities.' Hard to do that.

"Okay, you can't play there because they have all these great players." That's part of it. There is a constant transition of players here."
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