Notebook: UF stressing unity

Published: Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 9:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 9:50 p.m.

Florida is emphasizing the word “team” a little earlier this season.

Unlike years prior, UF coach Urban Meyer and his staff had the freshmen and vets together on the second day of practice. Traditionally, the freshmen would work out in the mornings during the first few days, while the upperclassmen came out in the evening.

“We came out seven periods early with the young players,” Meyer said after Tuesday’s practice. “Instead of bringing them in in the morning, we wanted to integrate them faster this year. That was a staff decision, so we brought them out seven periods early to teach them how to practice some of those drills and we jumped right into it.”

While the players are still working out in shorts and shirts, getting the frosh guys into the mix with the older players should help build better team chemistry. Something the Gators lacked for most of last year’s 9-4 season.

The freshmen appropriately looked like freshmen, but everyone looked to be enjoying themselves in the blistering sun.

Freshman defensive lineman Matt Patchan said he was pleased to see everyone out at the same time and that the team has one major goal this year: team unity.

“Having all the new freshmen in here and getting everybody to get close together in (the 2008 season), so we can push everybody else and getting better as a team, we can work for multiple national championships,” Patchan said, describing the goal. “That’s what we’re doing.”

Lawrence likes move: Freshman T.J. Lawrence worked out for the second day

at safety and the freshman is starting to like his new position. Mainly because he’ll be the one doing all the hitting.

“It’s gonna feel good,” Lawrence said of getting used to hitting receivers. “I mean, I’ve been hit at receiver, so it’s going to feel good to hit somebody at receiver.”

Lawrence played both safety and receiver in high school, but was all receiver his senior year. He’s not afraid to admit that the move won’t be easy.

“I’m not gonna lie; it’s a lot tougher because I haven’t played safety in like a year,” he said. “It’s a lot harder than playing receiver and it’s going to take a lot of getting used to.

“It’s a big transition. The playbook is much easier, but it’s a big transition moving to the secondary.”

O-line Hurting: Meyer said Tuesday redshirt senior Jim Tartt and redshirt sophomores Maurice Hurt and Carl Johnson have all been limited in practice due to injuries.

Two of the injuries look to be minor as Tartt is still dealing with some shoulder pain, while Hurt is recovering from injuries sustained from a scooter accident and should be fine in a few days, Meyer said.

The most significant injury could be to Johnson. Meyer said Johnson is recovering from a broken wrist. Johnson has spent most of his time working in the Pit during the first two practices.

ETC.: Freshman defensive back Adrian Bushell spent the second day of practice in street clothes on the sidelines because he has yet to be cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Meyer said he expects to hear an outcome in the next couple of days. … Redshirt freshman receiver Paul Wilson spent another day working out with a cast on his right hand. Meyer said Wilson underwent “significant” wrist surgery in June and is working through the injury at practice. “He can’t catch, so we made the decision because of his fresh legs to bring him in (to practice) and he works his butt off,” Meyer said. “He deserves his chance.”

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