Meyer has concerns with season fast approaching
Published: Monday, August 23, 2010 at 9:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 23, 2010 at 9:15 p.m.
Florida coach Urban Meyer was singing his version of the post-training camp blues Monday after practice.
"I'm hitting the panic button a little bit," Meyer said. "We've got to get better fast than what we are right now. I don't know if it's that we're good. It's just consistency of the offensive and defensive lines. We need to get them all in there.
"Once (offensive tackle) Matt Patchan comes back (from injury) and (tackle) Xavier Nixon returns, we'll look a little better on offense. When DT (wide receiver Deonte Thompson) and Carl Moore and Omarius Hines are all together, we'll look a little better.
"Right now, it's not Florida football yet."
The less than flattering assessment of his team is not unusual for a coach whose team has just completed the mental and physical grind that is training camp. And this was a real grind, with a lot of nagging injuries and all kinds of August heat and humidity.
Bodies are sore, legs are heavy, and there's still work to be done in the final few practice days before the Sept. 4 opener.
"It's training camp," Meyer said. "Coaches, we panic every year at this time. We just finished 18 practices in 10 days. They're beat up pretty good, even after a few days off."
With classes starting Monday, the Gators have said goodbye to preseason camp and hello to one-a-day practices (and more of a game-week routine).
Meyer is still concerned with some areas of his team, but one player he does not appear worried about is junior quarterback John Brantley, who concluded training camp with another strong scrimmage performance Saturday, followed by another good practice Monday.
"Somebody asked me today about the difference between John Brantley and Tim Tebow," Meyer said. "Outward appearances, there's a big difference. Inward. ... his competitiveness and leadership are fantastic right now, much better than I thought. I was really worried about that.
"When you have a guy like that (Tebow) in front of you, (Brantley) didn't show much (in the past). Today we did the two-minute drill and he did fantastic. He ran the whole show and acted like a veteran quarterback, like he is. I'm really encouraged by John.
"Everybody knows he can throw the ball. The other part is fantastic right now as far as management of the team and leadership."
At the moment, Brantley is leading a Florida team that is still developing chemistry — and trying to develop some of the many highly rated freshmen who have advanced a little slower than expected, Meyer said.
"Just OK," Meyer said of the freshmen. "Actually, a little disappointed in some of them. I thought they'd go take a spot. A few guys are doing decent — Matt Elam, Dominique Easley and Quinton Dunbar, who has been very good for us and might play this year. (Defensive end) Ronald Powell had a great practice today, but didn't have a great camp. He's coming on strong now.
"Some of those big-game guys, I thought we'd have some of them cracking the lineup right now, but not yet."
Team chemistry also needs a little work, Meyer said.
"I like our chemistry, where we're at. But I can't say I love it right now," he said. "I was hoping we'd be a little more advanced, but we've still got whatever it is, 12 days.
"You can tell (if it's good) by how they take the practice field. Do they hate it, do they love it, do they understand it's a chance to get a little better? I still don't feel that yet. I don't feel the urgency. I feel it among the coaches, because they know what's coming. Twenty-five young players that dominated like they did in high school have no idea what's about to hit them."
What hit Monday were those training camp blues.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.