Notebook: Gators get good news amid huge distraction


Published: Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 11:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 11:26 p.m.

Amid the 6-foot-6, 290-pound distraction that has become defensive end Carlos Dunlap, there was some positive news from Tuesday’s practice.

Florida coach Urban Meyer said his players came out with “good energy” and were focused solely on their top priority of getting past No. 2 Alabama (12-0, 8-0) to capture a second consecutive SEC championship.

“It was a good one,” Meyer said of Tuesday’s practice.

The top-ranked Gators (12-0 worked mainly on the field turf practice field to develop some sort of comfort for Atlanta’s Georgia Dome surface. Meyer said there is really no advantage to playing on field turf but that he wanted his players to get familiar with how to maneuver and kick on it.

The Gators also got some good news out of its backfield.

Meyer said junior running back Emmanuel Moody (ankle) practiced Tuesday and is set to play Saturday.

“Moody is good,” Meyer said. “He was almost full speed today. He’ll play.”

Senior defensive end Jermaine Cunningham’s impact on Saturday’s game suddenly increases with the absence of Dunlap, but Meyer said he’s not worried about Cunningham taking on even more responsibility.

However, he’ll do so with a slightly injured shoulder that Meyer said still isn’t 100 percent.

“He’s a tough nut and he’s played well,” Meyer said.

The storyline for SEC Championship Game took a negative hit Tuesday, but Meyer wouldn’t let that disrupt the importance Saturday’s game has on his team’s season.

“This is a one-game shot (at the national championship game),” he said. “I’m very proud (of the players). You can never take away what’s happened because it was a great season. Saturday night was about as perfect as you get — performance, the crowd, the Gator Walk. It was a great night, but let’s move on. It’s championship week at Florida.”

Gators honored

Senior quarterback Tim Tebow was named a finalist for the Manning Award announced Tuesday by the Allstate Sugar Bowl. He captured the award last season and has been a finalist for three straight years.

The award was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in honor of the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. The winner will be announced Jan. 14. It’s the only quarterback award that takes bowl performances into consideration.

Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong was named as one of five finalists for the Broyles Award on Monday. The award is for college football’s top assistant coach. The winner will be announced Dec. 8 at the Broyles Award Luncheon presented by the Little Rock Rotary Club. Strong became only the second three-time finalist, as he was previously recognized in 2000 at South Carolina and the past two seasons with Florida.

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