Meet the staffers
Published: Friday, January 14, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 14, 2005 at 1:02 a.m.
They have had about as much contact with the Florida players as they have with their families and know the nooks of their hotel rooms better than the crannies of The Swamp.
But in a strange town while wearing bright new orange and blue shirts, the excitement oozed out of the members of the new Gator coaching staff Thursday.
"I couldn't wait to get here," receivers coach Billy Gonzales said.
"This is the best job in all of football," co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said.
Five of the new Florida assistants met with media members Thursday, the last day of a dead period before recruiting cranks back up again today.
Those coaches made the Urban Meyer agenda clear.
This isn't about gimmicks.
Neither smoke nor mirrors are part of the plan.
"We're going to be tough; we're going to be hard-nosed," Gonzales said. "There is nothing gimmicky about this offense and we will never use those terms. You look at any team we played (at Utah) last year. Before the game they might have referred to us as a finesse team but after the game they had a different opinion.
"Our receivers will block as well as any in the country."
The coaches who were able to take some time Thursday to talk to the media all stressed the physicality they want to see from the 2005 Gators.
But it was offensive line coach John Hevesy whose comments should bring the most comfort to the Gator Nation, considering how last year's offensive line was a yellow flag waiting to happen.
"Late hits and holding, those are penalties of laziness," he said. "False starts are repetitions and they'll get plenty of those. But late hits come when you miss a block and run to pop someone downfield. Holding comes when you quit moving your feet. That's when you're holding.
"Those will be eliminated. There are penalties that will happen. But stupid penalties won't be tolerated."
Although Meyer has yet to announce all of the assignments for his coaching staff and must replace departed running backs coach Mike Locksley, Mattison said Chuck Heater and John "Doc" Holliday will split up the secondary, Charlie Strong will coach the linebackers and he will handle the defensive line.
"There will be no problem with Charlie and I as co-coordinators," Mattison said. "Charlie is a good friend of mine. He's one of the reasons I came here. It's not anybody's defense, it's Florida's defense."
Other tidbits from Thursday's media opportunity:
"I think it's important for the secondary guys to be in the box," Mattison said. "We haven't really talked about it yet."
But he knows where he will be.
"A long time ago, I was in the press box for Texas A&M and we were playing Texas Tech," he said. "The coaches on the field had taken their headsets off and were talking to our defensive players. Texas Tech came on the field and I was screaming and scratching at the window but they couldn't hear me. I almost jumped out of the box. Our guys didn't get on the field in time and Tech scored a touchdown. That was it for me and the box."
"He couldn't remember my name," Holliday said.
The head coach at West Virginia who recruited Holliday to West Virginia was Bobby Bowden, although Bowden left for FSU before Holliday began playing for the Mountaineers.
Holliday also coached at West Virginia from 1979 to 1999 before moving to North Carolina State for the last five seasons.
"I haven't been a guy who has had a lot of jobs," he said. "I don't move much, I wouldn't take this job unless it was a great job. I did a lot of research on Urban and he did a lot on me."
"There is going to be some fallout," Heater said. "Especially because recruiting today starts in May. They don't know you. That's the nature of the business."
"I just wanted to get a look at how they live," he said. "Andre knew I was coming. Chad didn't. But surprisingly, the place was pretty darn clean."
Gonzales said the receivers have stopped by his office looking for plays and routes to get started for spring football.
"It's good that they want to learn," he said.
"I was tempted to go back to Notre Dame and tell them they didn't need to bother recruiting down here," Mattison said. "The school, the weather. Why would anyone with any sense at all go north?"
In other news, Florida quarterback Chris Leak said Thursday that rumors about a major injury to his throwing shoulder are just that - rumors. Leak said he did suffer a stinger when hit by FSU linebacker Ernie Sims, but that it had no effect on him in the Peach Bowl.
"It's fine, it's perfectly normal," Leak said. "I'm taking the usual time off that I do every year to rest, but I'll be ready to go.
"Coach Meyer has told me the offense will be built around my abilities and talents and that's quite a compliment. I just have to get the terminology down."
You can reach sports writer Pat Dooley by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 374-5053.
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