|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
December 1, 2006
COACH URBAN MEYER: On behalf of our 21 seniors and our football team, it's a great opportunity to represent the SEC East and be a part of something I've watched for many, many years and very anxious to coach against a very talented Arkansas team.
Q. Talking to Coach Nutt, he said it's strength versus strength, pass rushing and offense.
COACH URBAN MEYER: I think there's no question. I think it's going to come down to tackling. These two tailbacks we're getting ready to face are really very good at breaking tackles, and very hard to bring them down one-on-one.
We spend a lot of time, especially this late in the year when usually you don't do that, but we actually did open-field tackling on Tuesday, to-the-ground tackling, which like I said normally you don't do that this time of year. They are outstanding ball carriers and it's strength-against-strength. It's going to be wear and tear, as well, and we don't have a lot of depth and the grounding that takes place in a physical game like, this the second half is going to be very important.
Q. Would you talk about moving Harris over to the nose tackle and how do you feel he's performed there?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Coach made that move a couple of weeks ago and it's been very good. He played his best game against FSU a few weeks ago at the nose. That allows Joe Cohen and Ray McDonald, the swing guy, that can play in as well as inside. It's been two weeks and he'll start at nose tomorrow.
Q. If he cannot play, what will you do, and if you don't play him, what does that mean for the defense?
COACH URBAN MEYER: It takes a very good player out of the lineup, first of all, a leader and senior, you play your whole career, and for Earl, I hope he gets to play in this game because this is what these young players have talked about since they arrived in Florida. Brandon gets to start, he played fairly well if you remember in our South Carolina game. We played the two freshman at linebacker so Earl and Brandon were out of that game. Brandon is doing really good, 100% finally, and we would play with Brian Crum, Brandon Siler and Brandon Spikes.
Q. Coach Nutt was asked this about Arkansas; what do you think makes the Gators the better team tomorrow?
COACH URBAN MEYER: I'm not sure we're the better team. I'm let you know tomorrow about nine o'clock, ten o'clock.
When you sit back and evaluate, I just came from a luncheon, this will be a heck of a game to watch. I think it's going to be extremely fast. They played all man coverage. Over 90 percent of the time they are in man-to-man, and our strength right now on offense are the receivers.
On defense obviously you've got two probably look like they are 5-10, 100-meters type of players, and Reggie Nelson and other players can run pretty good. It's going to be an extremely fast game and these are two very exciting teams, and the country will enjoy watching this one.
Q. If you win this game, do you believe that you should be in the National Championship game regardless of what USC does tomorrow, and why?
COACH URBAN MEYER: I made a couple comments a week ago, I believe it was, and we discussed this as a team on Monday. I started that several years ago because I used to be a firm believer that you just ignore it, but you can't do that any more because that's the talk of the town. That's the talk of I'm sure classrooms in Gainesville. That's the million dollar question everybody wants to know about.
Our focus is on what we have to take care of. I truly have great respect for the southeastern conference, and SEC conference team that plays 11, 12 games in this conference, good things should happen to that team if they are fortunate enough to win it. I don't have time to really study what's going on elsewhere.
Q. I know this is your first time playing Arkansas, but Arkansas has never beat Florida since they got in the league. Is there any kind of psychological thing, do you think, or what's your thoughts on that?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Well, our team did -- our team did play them a couple of years ago. We've been showing what we did is we showed -- we had a running highlight tape of the SEC Championship Games that the Gators have played in over the last 10, 15 years. But that has no impact on this game whatsoever.
This game is going to come down to those two tailbacks, cover that big receiver and defeat man coverage. I don't think that has any impact whatsoever.
Q. None of your players have been on this stage, and you talked about all season how you wanted to get here. Are you concerned because there's not any experience here in Atlanta with any of your players playing this game?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Sure there is. There's a huge concern. That's kind of alleviated when you find out we have 21 seniors that have played a lot of football for four years. But one thing about Florida, you're not short on playing big games. We play three rival games every year and you're on the grand stage each week.
When I was a coach at Utah, I was very worried about that. We went to the Fiesta Bowl one year and that was a game of games and you saw a bunch of bright eyes. Our guys are very excited about this, but it's hard for me to imagine with the schedule that we play, that we're looking at this against a very talented team and really that's probably an opportunity to do something we haven't done in a while at the University of Florida. I'm not concerned about them being bright-eyed, if that's the question.
Q. LSU has such a good defense, but yet Arkansas repeatedly in the wildcat formation got outside on them, watching the tape, why were they so successful doing that? Was it something schematically LSU was doing?
COACH URBAN MEYER: I made this comment earlier this week, when I was at Bowling Green we had a 235 quarterback and basically led the nation in scoring. I don't know if he finished that way, but at one point late in the season he was the No. 1 scoring player in the country and it was simply a direct snap to him. And he ran power, ran counter, stretch, a lot of things that Arkansas does a lot of the same thing we do with Tebow. We put Harvin in the tailback last week and he ran a counter-play for 50 yards.
The one thing that does when you extend the defense, you're a gap short and it's very hard to plus you in the box. I made the comment many times, as long as all is equal, you're facing a team that's much better than you, doesn't matter what you do; you have a hard time moving the ball. But all equal, it's the hardest defense to stop. There's no way, you just run out of bodies to plus you in the running game and there's no throwing game whatsoever, and McFadden is 5 for 5. We played LSU, Tim was the quarterback at the time and we were not throwing the ball very much. We had a guy No. 1 pass defense in the country and the kid caught a 35-yard -- no, about a 40-yard touchdown pass with no one within 20 yards of it because it was single-winning style offense we were running at the time, so it's very hard to defend.
Obviously the personnel behind it is the key, but that's a very hard offense to defend. Just simply numbers when you draw up a picture, you draw up the numbers, you can see most of the time you're short against the run game.
Q. Are these things we're going to see more of in the future, or is it just so that happens that this is what these teams needed to do to get to the championship game this year?
COACH URBAN MEYER: We have different reasons for doing it. We have a very serious situation at tailback the entire year. I thought DeShawn Wynn at times has played excellent and other times he has been hurt. Our best runner happened to be at most point was Tim Tebow so we exercised and used direct snap to the quarterback. West Virginia has had great success running that with their quarterback. A lot of teams do it, maybe not on the stage that Arkansas does do it because when their guy hits -- you're talking about those 80-yarder, 60-yarders, so they may be open to some of the country's eyes to it. But that's been around for quite a while. And their wildcat formation they do some great things, we call it jet motion where you're going to fake 14 three guy, make to another 4-3-4 guy and running behind three 250-pounders, that's bad stuff. (Laughter).
Q. I think I heard you mention this week that you had been asked to testify before Congress about the BCS?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Testify? I don't know if that's -- don't use that with me. (Laughter).
Q. Speaking on the BCS?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Speak, okay.
Q. Why did you decide not to do that, and if you had the chance, would you like to talk about it again?
COACH URBAN MEYER: It's amazing, a lot of these things, coaches get asked their opinions and to come in December or November or January. Our schedule, the lifeblood, the reason that counterplay looked really good against FSU because Percy Harvin caught it and outran everybody. That's called recruiting and that's the most important part of this job.
To ask you to go do something during recruiting, certainly I'm not going to do that. Most coaches wouldn't do that. If someone is interested in my opinion -- that was unique because I was the head coach at Utah, the so-called non-BCS or coalition school and had an opportunity to go coach in the Fiesta Bowl so they wanted the opinion and know the difference. But obviously during that time of year, that's the wrong time of year to be doing those type of things.
Q. What did they want to know?
COACH URBAN MEYER: I think it was more they were going to ask me my opinion. I think what gets lost in the whole shuffle is the student athletes. Very adamant with that. You know, I think the whole Bowl, and this is not the time to discuss this but I also remember standing in front of a team that was 9-3, I made this comment in the back room and those players wanted to go to a Bowl game, would have died to go to a Bowl game, the fans would have went. I was also at Notre Dame when we were 6-6 or 6-5 and went to a Bowl that our players and coaches didn't want to go to.
So I think what happens is because of tie-ins and all this, what's really lost in the equation is the experience of a student athlete in a Bowl game, which is unbelievable for them. But like I said, the 7th place team, I don't know if it is unbelievable for them. For Bowling Green at that time, seven great losing seasons, to go to a Bowl game -- those are the kind of things I think they were going to ask.
Q. What's the status of Percy and DeShawn?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Percy is good to go. DeShawn Wynn is, according to DeShawn, good to go. It's a legitimate injury, a shoulder injury that every time he gets a direct shot, which facing this kind of defense and the defenses we face, you do receive direct shots. How long he can go, we don't know. Percy is good. Matter of fact, real good. He's at full speed.
Q. Is his injury going to limit some of those areas that you're going to put him in?
COACH URBAN MEYER: No. We're going to let him play and, no, not at all.
Q. Do you think there's just so much focus being put on who is going to play in the one game, and overshadowing a lot of things even an event like this, is that kind of a shame that so much focus is put just on that?
COACH URBAN MEYER: I was asked that question earlier and someone did an article on that where it used to be, go to the SEC championship. Now I'm starting to field questions about some other game in some other state at some other time.
No, I think we try to talk about that as a team, too, on Monday. We put that to rest, let's discuss it, here is what it is. Now, go enjoy one of the great sporting events in the country of the year and understand you are representing one of most difficult conferences in the country. So let's go have some fun and play your best.
To answer your question, yeah, I think it is a little bit of a shame but it is what it is.
Q. Last week against Florida State you had mentioned at one point you thought about putting as many points as you can up on the board rather than just get the win and leave in terms of the BCS. If that opportunity arises tomorrow, are you going to try to put as many points on the board in terms of thinking of the BCS?
COACH URBAN MEYER: That's true, and with a minute left, took the Bowl on the six- or eight-yard line and over the headsets I did say that and maybe I shouldn't say that and get that out. But that's my opinion and that won't change. When we were at Utah, we had many opportunities to leave Alex Smith in the game and keep going and going and going, but I grew up in the Woody Hayes area and Bo Schembechler, you don't do that. You're still trying to represent college football and not embarrass people and certainly not people you have great respect for.
So, no, that will never happen. We're going to try to win that game, and somehow, we're going to try to win that game.
Q. I think you talked about it some, but could you address what winning this game would mean to your program and second year there and trying to get Florida back to the level that you talked about getting it to when you were hired?
COACH URBAN MEYER: I think one of the biggest things to me is that there are some very good players in that program and it would also tell -- very about players in the program, that's first and foremost because coaching stuff is a little overrated.
Like I mentioned that counter play looked really good last week because the guy that caught it is really, really fast at making people miss.
So I would tell that you first of all, there's some good players. I think it would also tell you -- a lot of people do know, this has not been a smooth ride. There's been speed bumps, there's been issues that show up, maybe they are aware of the issues, maybe not aware. It says a lot about resiliency and a lot about the young players that find a way to win.
It tells you about McDonald, two ACL surgeries in January. I keep talking about the BCS, I would rather talk about him. He had two ACL surgeries. No one ever heard of that before, and I don't think that's ever happened. He's played the best football of his career and helped lead the Gators, ten-poll defense. Those are the more important issues and what gets lost in this whole thing is the players, and it tells you that our players battled through some tough games and tough schedule and found a way to win some really close games.
Q. In your preparation for this game, did you watch the Southern Cal/Arkansas game and can you believe anybody scored 50 point on Arkansas, or was that a different Arkansas team?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Offensively they are different. McFadden was limited in that game. He was coming off the foot injury. They are very good and talented one thing Arkansas does is play a lot of man coverage and SC did make some plays against their man coverage. It's a completely different Arkansas team, you can see it's just a different-looking team.
SC has a lot of firepower. Teams really change throughout the course of the year and Arkansas certainly has.
Q. Your thoughts on McFadden and what he did last year against No. 1 rushing against, or No. 1 defense in LSU, what you have to do to stop him?
COACH URBAN MEYER: It call comes down to tackling, and I made this comment; on Tuesday we put full pads on and tackled to the ground, which I'm not sure many schools do that. Usually you start backing off because just the wear and tear and getting someone hurt.
But we made a decision our secondary coach and he's that good, he's not -- there's very different type of runners across the country. He's a 6-3, 215-pound guy that runs I would imagine 10.5, 100 meters. He looked that fast.
We experienced LSU's defense. They are very fast, as well, and he ran right by them and no one was going to catch him. The whole thing is you'd better get him down. This is important, a lot of times you want those ball carriers to spill and make them go to the outside, you can't do that with this guy, he's that fast. He gets to the outside you'd better contain and cup the football. Our focus has been on cupping the football and tackling.
Q. USC and UCLA kickoff at 4:30. Have you and your staff or players talked about making sure the players are not scoreboard watching?
COACH URBAN MEYER: You know that. You're not new to me. You know the answer to that.
No, there's been no discussion about that. No discussion whatsoever.
Q. Could you elaborate on Everett, is the ankle hurt, where is he at percentage-wise and what is the likelihood he'll play?
COACH URBAN MEYER: It's a low ankle strain with a bone bruise. That's the first time I heard it was a bone bruise was the other day. He's battling and trying. We'll know more today. We'll run around in the Dome here in a couple hours and I'm going to find out more. He's a tough player and it's a legitimate low ankle. It's not a high ankle strain, so he should be back shortly. But, you know, he has to be at his best to play in this game. You asked for a percentage; I would say 50/50 at this point.
Q. You've been asked a couple different ways but I'll try again. Florida has not won the SEC since 2000 and not been to a BCS since 2001. What would be then the significance of winning this game for your program?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Well, I think recruiting, it's awful significant in recruiting. You sign a scholarship, everybody goes to schools for different reasons, maybe it's education, maybe it's opportunity to play in a great stadium.
I think people come to Florida after a year of being there because of an opportunity to go play for championships, and Florida has been to this game many, many times in the 90s. And I think it's a statement and I think it's a staple for our seniors to think a senior class can go all the way through and not have an opportunity to win an SEC championship is something they never imagined when they signed a scholarship with Florida. So that's what I think that would mean.
Q. Have you thought about or have any speculation about possibly playing Michigan?
COACH URBAN MEYER: No thoughts.
Q. There's been some talk about Chris Leak's legacy as a college quarterback and you mentioned something after the game last week that it would be nice if he won a championship, it would certainly help his legacy, what do you think that would mean for him to win this game?
COACH URBAN MEYER: That's a great question and I respect Chris Leak as much as I respect any football player. It's been well documented, three coordinators, two different coaching staffs, style of offense. Chris is the one constant, and that is he's a -- his ego doesn't get in the way. He's a team player. He's playing, in my opinion, which is important to me, it's important to play the best football of his career. He has three game-winning drives off the top of my head against Knoxville; South Carolina, executed really elements of the spread offense to perfection in that last drive. And then really took an offense last week with that zero-run game. So no running back; Percy was not there and against an offensive line that was backed up and he directed seven or eight straight passes.
I'd hate to say that he's going to be judged only on the ability to win the SEC championship. Unfortunately he's at a school where the last three or four quarterbacks have, and seems to be the benchmark. So there's a lot of people pulling for Chris Leak, and one of them is me.
Q. Last week LSU coach double-teamed Marcus and made for a miserable day for Casey, completed only three passes; what does that tell you about Arkansas's passing game, and how have you adjusted your game plan for Arkansas because of that?
COACH URBAN MEYER: In certain situations you have to; he's that good a player. We faced numerous great wide receivers and you have to have a plan to take away their best players. Statistically he's off the charts as much as catches, 40-some catches and the next guy is at 20 or 19. He's an opposing figure, 6-4, 6-5 with great speed. No. 1 concern is to stop the run game. Any time you pull a defender out, the double-wide receiver, good day for the Gators. If it's one of those days where they are running it down your throat, I think you've got a problem. So we have to stop that run and if it's like I said we have to rally up and play defense on Monk, if we have our druthers, we have to stop that run.
Q. If it's fourth in Arkansas territory, long given the status of the kicking game, opportunity you're going to go for it increased?
COACH URBAN MEYER: I actually spent some time talking to other colleagues about that, guys that I have great respect for, and I think our kicking situation is going to get cleaned up this week. But, third down, the way you manage the game on third down and you would call a different play in the four down territory. If you're automatic for a certain area kicking the ball, you try to get that first down and they kick the field goal. If it's third and eight, maybe we'll try to get four or five to get within striking distance of a fourth down.
Those things, it's kind of a game-time, how it's happening, but that's certainly right now at the forefront, we've managed the game a little differently as we're going in the red zone.
End of FastScripts