Meyer's pre-spring report


Published: Tuesday, March 8, 2005 at 2:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 8, 2005 at 2:03 p.m.

Urban Meyer likes "nice guys," but he doesn't see any use for them on his football team.

His players are expected to produce, and if they don't, Meyer insists that he will find those that will.

"We have three scholarship tailbacks that haven't proven a thing," Meyer said in a press conference Tuesday, "We have no tailback."

In particular, Meyer took shots at junior running back DeShawn Wynn. "Wynn has had some problems with his work ethic," Meyer said.

Meyer also commented that junior quarterback Chris Leak, a great athlete with a tremendous and work ethic, has not taken up the role as the vocal leader Meyer wants him to be.

"Chris is a unique guy. He doesn't talk. He leads by example," Meyer said.

Meyer expressed his wish for Leak to be that vocal leader.

"Chris isn't a freshman or sophomore any more," he said. "Its time for him to step into that role."

Doesn't this seem like a harsh standpoint to have towards student athletes?

Maybe, but according to the new head coach, that is the way it is going to be in Gator Country. at least while he is at the helm.

Then again, looking at his record over the last four years as a head coach, this hard-nosed attitude may be just what University of Florida football has been missing the last three years.

During his two years at Bowling Green and two years at Utah, Meyer managed to spit out a 39-8 overall record and a 24-6 conference record. He has been a two-time National Coach of the Year and sports an 11-1 record against Bowl Championship Series teams.

Meyer has grown accustomed to winning; just as the Gators and Gator fans expect nothing less than being contenders for a national title year in and year out.

Maybe this marriage of coach and school could produce that magic that UF football experienced through the 1990s. An athletic program that demands excellence from its coach and a coach that demands excellence from his players.

Meyer wasn't all harsh words when talking about his team.

He did say that many of the players are working extremely hard and players and coaches are all very energized for spring practice to begin on March 16.

"I can't begin to tell you how excited I am," Meyer said. `If I didn't give up bad language for Lent, I'd tell you."

Meyer also stated that he was initially concerned about the resistance he and his coaches might face from players, who have been accustomed to the Ron Zook way of football.

"We've had very little resistance. That's a positive," Meyer said. "I'm very proud of our guys."

The Meyer way has a very straightforward approach. He breaks the football year into four quarters.

The pre-spring workouts consist of the first quarter, spring practice the second, summer practice the third and the fall season the last.

Each player gets graded in status. You are either a champion or not.

"Champions get treated very well around here, others don't," Meyer said.

This grading status is the coach's way of rewarding those that work hard and encouraging those that don't.

Meyer said that he couldn't compare the Gator's progress to other schools around the country, but said that once the actual practices start, he will have a better idea of where the team stands and what wrinkles need to be ironed out.

As for now, Meyer insists that his main concerns are with the lack of solid tailbacks and linebackers on the team.

"We should have seven linebackers and we have two," he said.

If his confidence and past record are any indication, Meyer and his coaches will find a way to fix any shortcomings the team now possesses.

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