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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 2 Wrap: Florida

We're down to the last of the Day 2 Wraps, Florida (read Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama in previous posts). Let's get started!
  • Head coach Urban Meyer bombed with a joke about not voting for Tim Tebow on the All-SEC preseason team. He said it to start his opening comment. I believe a tumbleweed blew through the ballroom. Tough crowd.
  • Interestingly, Meyer doesn't go straight for "winning the national title game" as his primary goal. "Expectation as far as the season, our goals are always the same as it was in 2005, as it is in 2009, and that is we want to do everything we can to get to Atlanta. That's our whole we wake up every morning to try to achieve that goal."
  • Meyer's got a great problem: too many good players to get on the field at once. "I think we've really promoted the competition and we've promoted team first. Great things happen when you have an unselfish team. Last year's was arguably the most unselfish I've been a part of. They got to wear a championship ring, compete in the SEC championship game. That's what we have going for us right now. I really believe our guys love it at Florida. More importantly, I really believe they care for each other. It's a good situation right now in that locker room, in the weight room, and when they're together. That's not easy. You have 105, 120, 18 to 22 year olds from every stretch, some overrecruited, some underrecruited, some overrated, some underrated. And to keep those guys happy and motivated, that certainly a difficult task. The only way to get it done is with great leadership on our team and our staff does a heck of a job."
  • Meyer brushed off the hubbub being made about Tebow not being a unanimous pick to the preseason All-SEC team: "Someone asked me if that's going to motivate Tim. Whoever asks those questions, don't know Tim. Tim has a lot of things to motivate him. That's not one."
  • There's been a lot of talk about Tebow not being ready for the NFL because he never takes snaps from under center. Meyer brushed off that concern. "If you want Tim Tebow under center, teach him to get under center, he'll probably do it better than anybody else," he said. As for the idea that Florida will run more of its offense from under center this year to prepare Tebow for the next level, Meyer said that wasn't the case. "To answer your question, he will be under center if it helps us win a game," Meyer said.
  • A lot was made about Meyer's future with Florida. Birmingham-based columnist Paul Finebaum ignited things by writing that Meyer was as good as gone to Notre Dame after this year. Meyer had this response: "Well, it's disturbing. I'd lie to you if I said it wasn't. It's disturbing. I care about my family. I care about our football players, our staff and recruiting. If it affects that, then it bothers me. If it's something else, then that's good water cooler discussion. That's what makes the SEC such a valuable commodity right now, is the intense scrutiny and fan support. I've been on the other side now. I've had a couple press conferences where there was no one out there. So I certainly understand it. When it starts affecting your livelihood, that bothers you. Then you go into defense mechanism, attack it. You have to. We have to do that. It bothers you, but I also understand."
  • Tebow, on why he decided to come back to school: "I look at it as I'm blessed to come back to the University of Florida for my senior year. When I was deciding to go or to stay, there are a lot of things that crossed my mind. You know, but I think the important things that I looked at were number one, was the opportunity that I had to have an influence in the state of Florida and around the South, for the U.S. for that matter. Something that really illustrated that for me is when we were sitting down at lunch, me, Coach Meyer, my mom and dad. We got a call, two days or something after the national championship game. That call told us that since the national championship game, the verse that was under your eyes was Googled 94 million times. That just kind of showed me, wow, the impact. I could wear something under my eyes and millions of people were going to Google it. I really had a platform. I wanted to take advantage of that for one more year, be a good role model for the kids that look up to me, set an example for them. That was kind of my number one goal as far as coming back, and also to be loyal to Coach Meyer, to my teammates who have done so much for me. I wanted to come back and finish this thing strong for them."
  • There might be a little bit too much Tebow love going on for some fans' liking. The quarterback doesn't really pay attention to any of the backlash, though. "You know what, although there has been a backlash, oh, well. You know what, I'll deal with it if I have to. It's not a big deal to me because of the kids and people that have been encouraged by the stories we have tried to tell and by the life that I've tried to live."
  • Meyer is often described as a finesse coach because of the spread offense that he runs, but Tebow says he's much more hard-nosed than his reputation. "When you're around him, you would not think that our offense was like that," Tebow said. "It's not. It's all about old school toughness, dedication, go hit him in the mouth, that type of mentality. I think we feed off of that. We try to play like that. Our offensive line tries to be a tough offensive line. I think they have a little bit of chip on their shoulder because we're known as a spread team who likes to do reverses and throw down the field and stuff. I think if you look at our team, you see that it's not just a dink or dunk are throw down the field, reverse team with fast players. I think we kind of take pride on being a tough team. Being a team, if we need to, we're going to try to hit you in the mouth over and over and over again. We take a lot of pride in that, being a tough team, being a team if we need to, we're going to go three yards in a cloud of dust over and over and over again. We have the toughness to do that, we have the leaders to do that. It's something that we do take pride in, that if we need to win a game by will and toughness, we want to be able to do that. All the guys, we just take pride in that."
  • Tebow's post-game speech following last year's Ole Miss game has been put on a plaque in front of the Gators' football facility. "I didn't think it would become what it became," he said. "I wasn't even thinking about that too much after the game. I just know I was upset, heartbroken. Just felt like we let I let my teammates down, my coaches, the fans. Was very disappointed. I wanted to let them know ultimately that something good was going to come out of this. They were going to see a different team, a different player, there was going to be positive that coming out of something that was so negative. That was my ultimate goal with what I said. But I didn't think it would have this much hype, no."

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