Players receive Meyer message
Published: Wednesday, January 5, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 5, 2005 at 1:15 a.m.
The Urban Meyer era officially got under way at Florida with a 7 a.m. team meeting Tuesday and the reaction from the players seemed mostly positive.
"It was good," true freshman strong safety Kyle Jackson said. "We got to know him. He kind of put a little spark in everybody. Everyone is fired up. We're missing (Ron) Zook, but this is a new era, a new year and a new coach. Let's see what he brings."
Meyer met with the players for about 75 minutes. Several of the new assistant coaches also were present, while others were already on the road recruiting.
The players said Meyer set down some rules and talked about what he expected from them. He also talked about winning and where the program should be.
"He came in and set the ground rules and let us know what's going on and we're going to take it from there," true freshman safety Tony Joiner said. "We're missing Zook, but we're also excited. It was very upbeat. He basically told us we were going to win - no ifs, ands or buts about it. We're going to show the Gator Nation what kind of football team we have here and he's going to lead the charge. He's the type of guy who's going to make some noise around here and that's what we need.
"We're going to be 110 percent behind him. Winning at Utah and coming to a program like Florida, we think very positively about coach Meyer."
Redshirt freshman defensive end Tranell Morant said Meyer's track record of success at Bowling Green and Utah, where he was 12-0 this season, gives him instant credibility with the players.
"He's very confident in his system and all he wants us to do is buy into it," Morant said. "If we buy into it, we have the talent here to win the national championship and that's what the Gator Nation has been looking for the last few years.
"Everybody is enthusiastic about the new coach. We see what he's done at Utah. They hadn't won and he went in there and went 12-0. It's unbelievable. I love the system. He plays defense with an attitude and that's what we're looking for here. And everyone knows his offense can put up a lot of numbers."
The players said they have already heard the stories about Meyer's tough and demanding offseason conditioning program, but say they will adjust. At Bowling Green and Utah, some players were pushed to the point where they threw up.
The day after being announced as UF's head coach, Meyer said the gruesome tales of his conditioning program were somewhat exaggerated.
UF players will find out first hand when the program begins next week.
"It's not really horror stories (that we've heard)," Joiner said. "I just heard we're going to work harder than any program in the country and coach Meyer is going to show us how to do that."
Said Jackson: "Yeah, he's a demanding coach. But like I told everybody, it's not like anything my mom wouldn't demand from me. It's not like he's asking too much."
The players said Meyer didn't spend much time talking about UF's disappointing performance in a Peach Bowl loss to Miami last Friday.
"He saw only one half and he only talked about it a little," Jackson said. "He just said he wants us to get to Atlanta the right way (by winning the Eastern Division and playing in the SEC Championship Game)."
Not all of the players came out of Tuesday morning's meeting feeling positive.
True freshman tight end Tate Casey had a frown on his face and would not comment on the meeting.
The consensus among some of the players, though, was it was a good meeting and a good start to the Meyer era.
"The meeting was straight," sophomore defensive tackle Ray McDonald said. "It was a good meeting."
Junior offensive guard Lance Butler concurred.
"It's starting us off on the right foot," Butler said. "I think coach Meyer is going to have everybody really excited. I'm excited. We think he can do a really good job."
You can reach Robbie Andreu by calling 374-5022 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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