Coach Meyer refuses to disrespect Volunteers


Gator head coach Urban Meyer greets some enthusiastic and painted fans after the Florida Gators handily beat the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 41-3 in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday September 10, 2005.

Alan Youngblood/Star-Banner
Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 14, 2005 at 12:00 a.m.
At Utah last season, Urban Meyer spiced up the Utah-Brigham Young rivalry (and fired up his players) by placing BYU emblems in the urinals in the locker room the week of the game. So far, he has no plans to do something similar for this week's rivalry game against the Vols.
"Sorry to let you down," Meyer said. "If you watched our kickoff coverage the last two weeks, my focus has not been on playing games with games. I have great respect for (Tennessee). We'll do some things within the team. The thing is you don't want to ever cross that line and disrespect (your opponent). We're always going to respect our opponent.
"The job of a coach is to have your team ready to play. Right now, we have so many needs and pressing issues. If you want to make this a great rivalry, go win this game."
  • STOPPING THE RUN: The Gators are drawing some comfort this week from the fact that Notre Dame stuffed Tennessee's powerful running game last season, holding the Vols to a meager 58 yards on 39 carries.
    The Gators feel good about it because Greg Mattison, the Notre Dame defensive line coach at the time, is now UF's defensive line coach.
    "We've studied that film at great length," Meyer said. "Tennessee played in a box in that game for some reason. That's not Tennessee with the skill they have. Notre Dame was such a great run defense and Tennessee didn't take advantage of the (shaky Notre Dame) secondary.
    "Having a coach that's coached against Tennessee, it's a great resource to have."
    The main reason the Vols went conservative in the 17-13 loss to the Irish is the fact starting quarterback Erik Ainge separated his shoulder in the first half and did not return.
  • LAND OF NO RETURNS: With plenty of speedy skill players to work with, Meyer was hoping the Gators would be dangerous and productive in the return game this season. But UF is going nowhere on punt returns right now.
    UF ranks 11th in the SEC in punt returns with a paltry average of 2.6 yards a return.
    In the Gators' win over Louisiana Tech last Saturday night, Vernell Brown returned five punts for a total of eight yards, including one for six yards.
    "We've got to block better," Meyer said. "(True freshman cornerback) Avery Atkins is holding up a gunner and he needs to get a little bit better. Punt returns have been an issue around here for a while. In kick returns, we're getting better. We need to block better on punt returns."
  • WELCOME TO THE CLUB: After no UF offensive players earned Champion's Club status in the opener, two made it for their performances in the win over Louisiana Tech - senior center Mike Degory and junior tailback DeShawn Wynn, who rushed for a career-high 101 yards and scored three touchdowns.
    "Degory played fairly well, grading out at 82 percent," Meyer said. "The tailback, we gave him a champion's effort. He played fairly well.
    "We still have a lot of improvement to do as an offensive group."
    Four defensive players made the Champion's Club - cornerback Brown, defensive back Reggie Nelson, end Joe Cohen and safety Kyle Jackson.
    "Those guys are making a great push right now, Kyle Jackson in particular," Meyer said. "The way coach (Chuck) Heater breaks it down, a secondary player has to make a certain number of plays when he has the opportunity. Kyle had seven opportunities to make plays and you need to make at least five out of seven. He hit six out of seven, which is a really good day."
  • GATORS ON THE TUBE: CBS has exercised its six-day option on the Florida-Kentucky game, meaning the time for Florida's first road game won't be known until Monday. There's a high probability that UF's road games against Alabama and LSU will be televised by CBS with kickoff for both games at 3:30 p.m.
    UT officials learned Monday that next Saturday's Tennessee-LSU game in Baton Rouge is being televised by CBS with an 8 p.m. kickoff. UT had asked for 3:30 p.m. or noon kickoff so its fans could get in and out of Baton Rouge in one day.
  • WILBUR ON RAY GUY LIST: Junior punter Eric Wilbur has been named to the 2005 Ray Guy watch list by the Greater Augusta Sports Council. The award is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate punter.
    Wilbur, who has a career average of 43.6 yards, is averaging 43.2 yards a punt this season.
    You can reach Robbie Andreu by calling 374-5022 or by e-mail at andreur@gvillesun.com.
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