Meyer is pleased with Gators' work


Florida's Tim Tebow fakes a handoff during practice on Wednesday.

Brandon Kruse/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, April 10, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at 9:54 p.m.

With only one more practice in shorts and the Orange and Blue Debut remaining, the Florida Gators basically ended the serious side of their spring Wednesday with one final scrimmage. And at the end of the day, Urban Meyer was smiling.

"We've had 13 excellent days," Meyer said. "I think (we accomplished what we wanted to). We're leaving the practice field after practicing 13 days and I'm fairly positive.

"There are some things (we still need to work on). We've got to grow up. There are still some things going on that you don't expect out of a mature football team. We're not a mature football team."

Meyer said developing better team chemistry is another thing the Gators need to continue to work on. At the start of the spring, Meyer expressed that this was one of the priorities.

"You can't win a championship without great chemistry," he said. "Last year, it was awful chemistry on our football team. I'm surprised it went as well as it did at times.

"When I think about some of the things we had to witness, it was not good football compared to where it was the year before. It's better (now), but we still have a long way to go. They understand there is an issue.

"Last year, I think they denied it. They were shaking hands with the President. It was like, 'What are you talking about, coach? Chemistry issues? What are you talking about? We're champs, champs.' "

Two players who appear to be doing their part for team chemistry are the Pouncey twins center Maurkice and offensive guard Michael.

"I can't imagine not having them," Meyer said. "We were talking about that as a staff the other day. I think they have helped (redshirt freshman guard) James Wilson, they've helped (senior tackle) Jason Watkins, they've helped Urban Meyer and (line coach) Steve Addazio.

"Every time they come out here. ... They love the game and they have a smile on their face and let's go play football."

The Pounceys were on the winning side in the final spring scrimmage. The No. 1 offense edged out the No. 1 defense when Tim Tebow led the offense to a winning field goal in the closing seconds.

"It was an excellent day," Meyer said. "I appreciate their effort."

Some of the offensive highlights included a 50-yard pass from Tebow to wide receiver Riley Cooper, a 25-yard pass from Tebow to tight end Aaron Hernandez, and the only touchdown in the scrimmage a 30-yard pass from Cameron Newton to wide receiver David Nelson. Chris Rainey broke free for a 50-yard TD on the scrimmage's first play, but it was called back by a holding penalty.

Nelson, a junior, had one of his better days on the practice field.

"He's been up and down all spring because of an injury," Meyer said. "His attitude is great. He's got a little knee. They thought it was cartilage, but it's not. He's just been gimped up most of the spring."

Meyer said Rainey and sophomore defensive lineman Carlos Dunlap are players who have emerged this spring.

"I don't know if Rainey's the starter (at tailback), but he's going to play," Meyer said.

With most of the spring work behind them, the Gators will now focus on the spring game, which basically will be a fan and student appreciation day, Meyer said.

Along with the game (which is being televised by ESPN), the festivities will include picture availability with the 2007 Heisman Trophy and the 2006 BCS national championship trophy, an autograph session (9:30 a.m.-11 a.m.) on the north end zone concourse, a student flag football game, a student skills contest and the fastest Gator on campus race between five students and UF players Louis Murphy, Deonte Thompson and Rainey. Also, at halftime there will be an unveiling of a stadium sign recognizing Tebow's Heisman victory.

"I think spring games are for players who haven't done a whole lot," Meyer said. "But I don't want to disappoint the fans. Now all of a sudden there are millions of people watching on ESPN.

"That's why we're trying to do something more than just a lousy football game. It's kind of a fan appreciation day to get them out here. It's going to be more than just a game."

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