Notebook: Meyer likes Gators' 'workman-like' attitudes

Published: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

Florida has won the last 16 games against Vanderbilt and 17 straight homecoming games. Neither of those streaks will be a given to continue Saturday because of the current state of college football and that UF has not been playing its best football of late.

But this week has been different on the practice field, said UF coach Urban Meyer after Wednesday's practice. The attitudes have been all business.

"I think it's a very workmen-like approach," Meyer said. "There's not a lot of rah-rah. It's a team that knows there are still so many opportunities available and so much football left."

If UF wants to make things easier on itself against the Commodores the key will be stopping one of the conference's deadliest weapons: junior receiver Earl Bennett.

Bennett has scorched UF for 19 receptions for 232 yards and three touchdowns in his last two meetings with the Gators. Stopping Bennett isn't easy, but it will be even harder for a defense that is giving up 251.63 passing yards a game – good enough for 87th nationally.

"He just makes plays," Meyer said. "He's fast, got good hands, he's a good-sized receiver and they do a lot of stuff with him."

To take the pressure off of UF's ailing secondary, Meyer must find a way to generate a decent pass rush from his depleted defensive line. Desperation has set in as Meyer is working freshman backup center Mike Pouncey out at defensive tackle.

"He played some defensive tackle today," Meyer said. "There's a chance he'll play some of that in the game. His effort level's phenomenal, so he's doing good. Plus, he's a big body."


Meyer said sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow's injured right (non-throwing) shoulder is doing better and he should be more involved in the running game Saturday. But if Tebow isn't an effective runner, he could end up in the same position he was for most of the game against Georgia.

"You have to be very disciplined when you play a team like that because they cause a lot of lost-yardage plays," Meyer said. "I think they're No. 1 in the SEC in sacks (24), and that's because they bring so much pressure. And they're good at it.

"Three out of four snaps they're bringing either four or five men. They bring five-man pressure a lot of times and they're moving their front. They're disruptive."


Sophomore receiver Riley Cooper (broken finger) is expected to play Saturday. "Riley's going to play," Meyer said. "He caught some balls. Not necessarily like this (with his hands up), but I think tomorrow he'll catch some more balls and he should be ready to go." ... Meyer has yet to name a starting running back, but will rotate sophomores Brandon James, Percy Harvin, Jarred Fayson and junior Kestahn Moore in Saturday. ... Freshman safety Major Wright is getting closer to regaining his starting spot after breaking his thumb. Meyer said Wright should play, but is not sure if he will start. Senior safety Kyle Jackson would start in his place.

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