Meyer looking into 'void'


Published: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 4:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 4:10 p.m.

Something is wrong. Something is missing.

Anyone who has watched the Florida Gators mysteriously stumble around this season knows it.

But what is it?

What's happened to the mighty Gators?

Urban Meyer says he's working to find the answers.




"This is a group of people that is committed to winning and finding a way to get it done," Meyer said. "There's a void in our team right now, somewhere, and I'm trying to figure out what it is.

"Whether it be energy level, whether it be chemistry, there's a little bit of a void, and we've experienced that. There's a void somewhere in there that we have to recruit to it, develop it and coach the mess out of it."

Meyer said he has identified one problem, one thing that has been missing on this team.

The Gators don't seem to be playing with the same energy, passion and confidence that his past Florida teams were known for.

"We've always been a high-energy, up-tempo, chest-bumping, flying-around team," Meyer said. "I see the same thing you guys see. I don't see that. I see it from some.

"That's college football. That's Florida football. I've had people say, 'We love watching the Gators play.' It's just because the energy level in that stadium, the flying around, and that doesn't exist at the level that we expect right now."

The energy level seems especially low on offense, where the Gators are coming off perhaps their worst performance of the season in a 36-14 loss to South Carolina that cost UF the SEC's East Division title.

Coming out of the bye week with a new no-huddle, up-tempo offense seemed to ignite a significant spark in back-to-back victories over Georgia and Vanderbilt. But that spark was extinguished in a big way this past Saturday night.

"We're trying to energize that group somehow," Meyer said. "I don't see an offense that's full of life. I don't see a lot of energy. We thought the up-tempo would help. It did, but we never got in a rhythm where we could utilize that energy (against USC). We're a staff that believes energy equals production. When you fail to see that energy ... we are trying to push that as hard as we can on this offensive outfit right now.

"Offense is the area that is our prime concern right now. We have the ability. We have the ability to fix issues around here. That's our job. We've not done a great job of that. We are pushing every button possible to get that fixed."

A lot of the Gators' lost offensive energy can now be found in the NFL. UF's biggest leaders from a year ago — quarterback Tim Tebow and center Maurkice Pouncey — were first-round draft picks, and two other key offensive players (tight end Aaron Hernandez and wide receiver Riley Cooper) also were drafted.

"Obviously, when you lose two first-rounders on offense, and a lot of players that are playing in the NFL right now, you lose a lot of energy and emotion toward the game," senior center Mike Pouncey said. "When they're playing and it shows that they love the game, it brings guys up around them."

In the final three games of the season, the Gators will have to create some energy with the players they've got.

Last week, after falling behind 15-7 late in the first half, Meyer basically abandoned the the no-huddle, hurry-up offense that had worked so well (and produced so much energy) in the wins over Georgia and Vanderbilt.

Meyer said the Gators will go back to playing up tempo and alternating three quarterbacks — John Brantley, Trey Burton and Jordan Reed — in Saturday's home finale against Appalachian State in an attempt to re-energize the offense.

But, of course, finding energy on offense is only part of the long-term solution.

Is it also coaching? Schemes? Philosophy? Recruiting?

Like Meyer said, the Gators have a void somewhere (for some reason or reasons) right now, and he's going to have to figure out what it is and how to eliminate it once this season is over.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com.

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