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Wednesday January 7, 2009Head Coach Urban Meyer Meets With Members Of The Media

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.


Head coach Urban Meyer met with members of the media in a press conference held on Wednesday.


On the similarities and differences between Tebow and Bradford:


Well, quarterback is a unique position, and it's ‑‑ all eyes are on the quarterback, not so much to the country, but all eyes ‑‑ when a guy calls a play, when a guy on 4th down and 1, he's the guy that has to make it go.  So the ability of a quarterback to get those around him playing at high levels. I'll hear something about Tim's throwing motion or the NFL is looking for ‑‑ I sometimes get confused.  Do they want a guy that's going to lead a team to win games?  I don't know if there's any better than Tim.  Coach Stoops and I are friends, and he's often told me about Sam, and you can see that on film.  The one play that sticks out in my mind with the quarterback we're playing is not the throwing; it's the play on the 4‑yard line where he laid out to go try to score a touchdown.  You have to be a leader, you have to show toughness, and you have to have the ability to raise the level of play of people around you. Our quarterback, I can't imagine there's a better one in America doing that.


On Florida’s offensive line:


I think this is a great story line for young coaches and people who admire football.  You keep hearing about Bradford and Tebow, and what you're really going to see is probably the two best offensive lines in America going against each other.  There's the reason for the success those quarterbacks have.  It's not the scheme.  Oklahoma runs a very up‑tempo offense that's hard to defend, but it's hard to defend because they have very good players and it starts up front.  The quarterback has a very good ability to go from the first read to the second read to the third read probably as good as any quarterback I've ever seen do.  However, if you have a bad offensive line, by the time he looks at the second read he's getting hit. Same thing with Tim Tebow.  He has an excellent cast around him.  This is the best offensive line I've been around, and I've been around some really good ones.  They're great people, they love the game of football, there's energy in practice, they're motivated, and it's just a great study.  If you really study the game of football, all the quarterback stuff is real interesting and the receivers and everybody else, but it all starts with the offensive line, and we have our best offensive line.  I haven't been at Florida more than four years, but it blows every other offensive line away.


On preparing for Oklahoma’s up-tempo offense:


Well, everything we've done is no‑huddle and up‑tempo, so we're getting a multitude of plays.  They average over 80 plays a game compared to we average I think in the 50s or 60s.  But their intent was to run as many plays as they can.  The biggest thing I think that's going to happen in this game is all great offensive, when we consider them a great offense, we consider the Gators a great offense.  If you allow them to start anywhere other than deep into our territory, we can't have that happen.  Its turnovers and coverage units.  So we start talking about their great offense, if you keep them pinned back and on a long field as I'm sure that's the feeling that's really ‑‑ what this game is all about is making a team drive the length of the field and not giving them short ones, I think that's what's going to be the difference in this game.


On the evolution of the team from last season to the present:


Personnel, maturity, and I think our assistant coaches have done a great job, starting with Mickey Marotti, developing toughness.  We've recruited toughness.  Last year's team was not a tough team.  Last year's team was just not very tough. Our team two years ago really turned out to be ‑‑ 4th down and 1 against Ohio State on the 25‑yard line, which showed its toughness.  This team showed its toughness.  This is a very ‑‑ this is one of the toughest teams I've been around.



On Florida’s professionalism:


Our job for some reason these kids are all blessed enough to play at University of Florida.  Make no mistake about it, that's their job, to get an education and play football.  If there's a lot of other things that get in the way of that, then they're usually pretty lousy at what they do, they're a lousy football player and a lousy student and lousy at both because other things get in the way. I admire guys that ‑‑ when I say "professionalism," if a young person, his body doesn't feel like because his hamstring is tight and he ignores it, then he's not a professional, he's just playing football and he'll get beat out.  If his whole waking life is spent on being a good student and a great football player, there's a good chance that hamstring is going to get healthy because he'll play well. There's a great chance he won't make a mistake during the course of a game because he's studied it and worked it.  That's his profession.  That's why he's here.  This is as professional a team as I've ever been around as far as taking care of their business and focused on what's important.


On managing the player’s excitement for the game:


Sure, I have to watch what I say.  Coach Holtz gave me one of the greatest pieces of advice, and the way he said it was ‑‑ he said it about three times, because I kept asking him the question, he said, Play the game January 8th at 8:30.  Do not play it early January, do not play it on Thursday before the game.  Play it on January 8th. We're pretty well known as far as we do a lot of motivational things as it gets closer to game time.  Whether it is speeches, whether it is hitting tables, whether it is to get guys going, there won't be a lot of that.  Take the right step; focus on your job and your responsibility.  This year will not be when you walk in that arena and the flashbulbs, which is a very critical element, especially guys who have not played in this.  How we start the game I think is going to be critical because momentum is very important.  You don't want to put Tim in a bad situation.  You want to let him get into this game. All those things you just said, that's a great question, and that's something that we have ‑‑ whatever we do, it's going to be well thought out.  I'm not sure it's going to work, but it's going to be at least well thought out.


On Coach Stoops:


I think we've run very similar programs.  He's a guy that started a little earlier than I did, and I've always believed in family involvement.  I can't imagine going to work and not having your children come by the office or having them come by practice every Thursday like we do.  I'm finally at that point in my life where I know that will never happen again.  I've been places like that where it's kind of a bad word to have your wife come by and have lunch with her or your children come up and hang around the players, and Coach Stoops is one of those guys a lot like us ‑‑ you look at Oklahoma and Florida, the families are there and the families are around, and when I hire a coach I'll make sure that I interview the spouse to make sure that ‑‑ I won't hire guys, "that's my family time."  Well, your family time involves our players, so go look elsewhere.  I think that's probably why I admire him and what I've taken from him as a defensive coach. I'm kind of an offensive coach; we're kind of from the same area.  But everything I've heard about Bob Stoops is why I kind of entrusted a phone call to him four or five years ago, not because the relationship was that tight, it was just because I kind of admired what he did.



On the 33 day break in between playing a game:


Well, we were in a unique situation.  We had injuries and we were done.  If we had to play a January 1st Bowl game, we would not have won that game.  Really no chance of winning that game.  January 8th gives us another chance, that game.  You have the three knees and you have the high ankle sprain, you're right at the ‑‑ thank God it was just those.  That's No. 1. No. 2 is it's just great for our university and great for recruiting.  We were in the first game and they separated from the other Bowls two years ago, and it was tremendous.  You know, every night you walk home, you flip it on, there's a commercial for the Gators and a commercial for our players, which is all very ‑‑ I love the system the way they have it set up right now.  I think it's tremendous.



On utilizing team speed:


Speed running into a big pile of people and getting tackled is not utilizing speed, so we run a style of play, I'm speaking offensively, where we try to match that speed against some inferior speed and let them go to work in the open field.  That's how we utilize or manifest, your term, that's how we try to utilize that speed.  But also, it's much deeper than that on our punt block unit or punt return unit, we have a lot of tremendous amount of athleticism in that group, and when you recruit you can start utilizing it in other areas. And also it's unselfish speed.  I use Jeff Demps.  Jeff Demps is the fastest player out there, 10 flat 100 meters.  Someone told me he's the fastest running back to ever play the game.  If that's true, then he's also the fastest left missile on kickoff and our fastest No. 7 on punt block unit, and he understands he's as important in those units as carrying the ball.  That's how we utilize the speed.



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