Notebook: Last game for Meyer's first recruiting class

Published: Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 6:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 6:29 p.m.

BOCA RATON Most of Urban Meyer's first Florida recruiting class is down to its final game.

Meyer said that did not strike him until wide receiver Louis Murphy and a handful of players went through senior tackle day Tuesday at the end of the final full-scale practice for Thursday night's national championship game.

"One thing I didn't realize until I saw Louis Murphy (addressing his teammates) is that I've never really gone from start to finish as a head coach with a player," said Meyer, whose stays at Bowling Green and Utah were for only two years. "Our program goals are real simple. We want you to graduate, we want you to play for championships and go on to the NFL.

"He was one of the first guys (we recruited to UF). It's real emotional when you see that. He's going to hit all three goals and not many players can say that."

Senior tackle day is a yearly ritual where each senior is introduced by his position coach, then a teammate talks about the player, then the player addresses his teammates.

Meyer said it was an emotional end to Tuesday's practice.

"That was hard," Meyer said. "The last guy to speak was (injured tight end) Cornelius Ingram (from Hawthorne). He walks away with a degree and doesn't regret any decisions he's made here. This is as good a group (of seniors) as I've been around."

Ingram tore his ACL in the preseason and missed the season. Even though he has been doing some running during bowl practices, he will not play in Thursday's game.

When asked if Ingram could pull a Willis Reed and take the field for the first play to inspire his teammates, Meyer said, "Who's Willis Reed? I live a sheltered life."

Gators good to go

Leading up to the national title game two years ago, Meyer said UF had had its best practices of the season. Meyer said the Gators have come close to that again in preparation for Thursday's game.

"They're very comparable," Meyer said. "The only difference is we've had some injured guys who have missed some time, but they've picked it up these last few days. All these players are doing exactly what we've asked."

Meyer said his team, including star wide receiver Percy Harvin, will be healthy for Thursday's game.

"Everybody should be ready to go," Meyer said. "Percy ... we're still keeping an eye (on his ankle), but he should be 100 percent."

With the game only hours away, the Gators were scheduled to have some quiet time at the team hotel Tuesday night.

"I can't ask our players to do anymore than they've done," Meyer said. "Now, it's time to get mentally right in the next 48 hours and go play a game.

"Tonight is a great night. No one is allowed to leave the hotel. We'll do something special as a team. We'll invite the families in. And at least we have control."

The turnover battle

Oklahoma and Florida are among the nation's leaders in turnover margin. Whoever wins that battle Thursday night will have a huge advantage, Meyer said.

"I think it's real clear, and it's not just in this game," he said. "These are two offenses that have put up a lot of numbers. I bet if you did a study, you'd find a lot of those numbers are the result of great field position and turnovers. Turnovers and coverage units are going to be a huge part of this game. You can't allow these offenses to get that ball near midfield. Anywhere near midfield and that's usually a score."

This and that

As he usually is before any game, Meyer admitted that he's a little nervous as the game approaches. "Someone is going to cut me open some day and they'll say, 'What is this mess?' It's like that any time," he said. ... Meyer said that senior Jim Tartt might have the opportunity to start his final game. Tartt has missed the bulk of the season with a chronic shoulder problem that continues to limit his activity. "Jim will play. He gave an emotional address to the team out there. He deserves the opportunity. If he didn't have a shoulder injury, he would have been a 13-game starter for us," Meyer said.

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