Urban developer ... He constructs playmakers

Florida's Meyer designs special drills for Gators that makes foes miss

  • What: Tennessee at Florida
  • When: Saturday, Sept. 15, 2007, 3:30 p.m.
  • Where: Gainesville, Fla.
  • Cost: Not available
  • Age limit: All ages
Full event details »

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Florida coach Urban Meyer doesn't just try to recruit playmakers. He tries to develop them.

"People think that is a God-given right," Meyer said. "It's something you have to practice."

So Meyer designs many of his drills specifically for that purpose.

"We want to get guys in open space and teach them how to make people miss," he said.

Meyer said those drills have paid off for junior running back Kestahn Moore, who leads the Gators in rushing with 169 yards after two games. Moore is still way down the list of Florida playmakers, but his improvement has at least brought more consistency to the tailback position.

For the previous four years, Florida coaches and fans talked about the potential of tailback DeShawn Wynn. He showed flashes of talent, but his career was marked by up-and-down performances.

Moore is neither as big nor as fast as Wynn. But he might prove to be more reliable.

Moore won't be the only tailback UT has to deal with Saturday in The Swamp. Wide receivers Percy Harvin and Jarred Fayson also are expected to take turns at tailback. So might tight end Cornelius Ingram.

Harvin is the biggest big-play threat.

Last season, he averaged 11.4 yards per touch, which included a 10.4-yard-per-carry average on 41 rushing attempts. In two games this season, Harvin has averaged 11.6 yards on seven rushes and 15.8 yards on six catches.

Meyer knows the value of those double-digit averages.

"We're a huge percentage team," Meyer said. "We try to study things and pass them on to players.

"It's a fact that in a typical NFL drive, your chances of scoring are 20 percent without a play over 12 yards."

Meyer said that goes up to 50 percent if you have a play over 12 yards.

Secondary Improvement: Secondary play should be a big factor for UT and Florida, each of which had to replace three starters after last season.

Florida will start a true freshman (Joe Haden) and sophomore (Markihe Anderson) at cornerback. Woody Pierre-Louis, a sophomore, started ahead of Anderson last week. Anderson missed the Troy game with a knee injury.

Meyer was impressed with the play of Haden and Louis, who each graded as a "champion" in the 59-31 victory over Troy.

"Think about that for a minute," Meyer said. "A week ago, they looked like the Bad News Bears out there. Joe Haden is really coming on."

Haden, who played quarterback in high school, enrolled at Florida for the spring semester and won a starting cornerback job in spring practice.

An Instant Hit: Florida lost all three of its starting linebackers from last year, but nobody mentions that as a position of weakness.

Sophomore Brandon Spikes, an imposing 6-3, 240-pound middle linebacker, leads the Gators with 20 tackles and two tackles for loss. He also has a sack.

Florida coaches selected Spikes as the defensive player of the game against Troy.

Like Spikes, sophomore linebacker Dustin Doe played last year as a backup. Meyer now calls him "one of the most improved players on our team."

Doe has 16 tackles, including two for loss, and a fumble recovery in two games.

Redshirt freshman A.J. Jones is Florida's other starter. Jones would have played last season had he not suffered a serious ankle injury in preseason practice.

Recruiting Rival: When Meyer was asked how impressed he was with LSU's victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday night, he said he spent more time watching South Florida's overtime victory over Auburn.

He was asked if that upset at Auburn meant South Florida had arrived as a football program.

"I think they had already arrived," Meyer said. "Every time I recruit in Tampa, I see (USF coach Jim Leavitt).

"I admire people who work hard. They recruit well and they do it the right way."

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knews.com.

© 2007 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 11

mtnvol writes:

Jack A$$ says, "I love you Urban! Kiss me and make me the happiest Tiger in the bayou."

DannyVol writes:

This is Florida Week and all we have gotten are special stories about the Gators. Adams needs to be reminded who his audience is. You won't find stories praising Fulmer or Ainge on Gatorzone, so why here? It's not just Adams either. I have been listening to sports talk and they are merely talking about whether Florida will cover the spread. They are talking about whether UT can "keep it close".

Since no one is talking about how we beat Florida, I will. Florida gave up nearly 400 yards of offense to Troy. Their defense is not very good in the front seven and can be steadily ran on. Their corners are very young, so our receivers will be open as well. Despite what others might say, points should not be an issue for our offense.

Tim Tebow has never started an SEC game. Sure, he racked up numbers vs. the likes of W. Kentucky and Troy, but he has never seen speed (every down) like he will vs. UT. Contrary to popular thought, he is not Superman, but merely a sophomore QB starting his first SEC game. He will get rattled more than once and it will show. You can expect him to falter a bit like any new QB.

I think we can and will win this game. It's obvious that Florida is vulnerable in enough spots to do so. To be perfectly cliche, I think the only thing that can beat Tennessee this week is Tennessee...I just pray that when we get a lead, we don't abandon what got us there.

inquiry writes:

"I admire people who work hard. They recruit well and they do it the right way."

Says a lot about Coach Meyer.. have nothing to fault about this statement. Sounds like Phil Fulmer to me.. someone copy a fan in Alabama for me....Go Vols!!!

mtnvol writes:

Tennessee fans have had to put up with Jack $$'s negative articles for a long time. Subscriptions have dropped and the KNS has lost money because of his writing. Someone was trying to sell subscriptions at the mall and I told him as soon as John leaves, I'll buy. He said he hears that alot! Why did this site go public? No cash!

My guess is he was told to clean it up or lose his job. Instead of writing about the Vols like a reporter, his ego want to be "a columnist" so he gigs us Vol fans with articles about the other team. When confronted, he will give a passive/aggressive answer like "I'm only informing the Vol Nation about their opponent." BS! The guy needs to go!

mtnvol writes:

Tennessee fans have had to put up with Jack $$'s negative articles for a long time. Subscriptions have dropped and the KNS has lost money because of his writing. Someone was trying to sell subscriptions at the mall and I told him as soon as John leaves, I'll buy. He said he hears that alot! Why did this site go public? No cash!

My guess is he was told to clean it up or lose his job. Instead of writing about the Vols like a reporter, his ego want to be "a columnist" so he gigs us Vol fans with articles about the other team. When confronted, he will give a passive/aggressive answer like "I'm only informing the Vol Nation about their opponent." BS! The guy needs to go!

GreerVol22 writes:

Ge wiz Beav...why don't we just change our name to Univ. of Florida at Knoxville, change our mascot to a snail darter, and replace those "VolNation" student shirts with "Who's your biatch" shirts....

Seriously, mtnvol has a point. I'm reading and posting less and less because the material is so vanilla, and French vanilla at that.

CWil writes:

I couldn't agree more. If Adams were to gone, our lives as fans would be much better. I wonder, however, if they use him to try and drive sales/traffic on this site. Sorta like "small Mike" did on the talk shows. Everytime he called, the calls would come streaming in. Maybe Jack A$$ is just trying to piss us off on purpose. Oh well...my biggest problem with him is his lack of talent.

birminghamvol writes:

The problem many of you have is you can't handle the truth ... or more likely ... you are too stupid to recognize it. The fact that many of you honks criticize John Adams but refuse to utter one critical comment toward the "coach" who has single handedly destroyed a (once) proud football tradition at UT says how truly delusional this fan base is. The bottom line is "coach" Fulmer and the University of Tennessee football program has done NOTHING for going on eight years now. UF and Urban Meyer are the reigning SEC champs and National Champions. Seems to me Adams article of praise toward Urban offers insight into the workings of a winner ... sure beats reading another article where we look into masterful goings on in the mind and of a perennial LOSER. Maybe you University of Fulmer fans should sit back and learn something .. but then again that would require common sense, critical thinking ability, and an ounce of intelligence.

bigbluevol writes:

Wow that's big talk coming from someone lacking the common sense to move out of the cess pool that is Birmingham. I lived there for a year and if I ever have to go back it will be too soon. Enjoy your murder rate. I would also like to say that apparently, between Urban and Tebow, Florida can do no wrong. Maybe they should run for President and Vice President in the next election, solve all of the world's problems and be ready to dominate the SEC in the fall of 2009 when Tebow will be ready for what will undoubtedly be his glorious senior year, every step of which will be documented by all the media outlets across the land.

Vol13 writes:

Mr. Adams attempts to write an article about a good football coach (something it would be nice to have at UT right now) and the readers blame the messenger. Unbelievable.

Some of you people are so out of touch with the reality of this football program right now. If it weren't so sad, it would be funny. The 2007 Vols will struggle to win 7 games. Folks, this is a BAD football team. As bad as we've had up there since 1988. We have one playmaker on offense at this point - LaMarcus Coker - and he's barely played this year. Ainge is a very good QB, but he has very limited tools to work with. Our defense is horrible by the standards set over the past 10 years. There are three starters on defense today that I would say have a chance of making (not starting for) an NFL roster at this point and one of those three is a true freshman (Berry).

Florida will clean our plow tomorrow - again. Fulmer is just sitting in the nest up in Knoxville counting his money. He has zero chance of righting the ship.

Vol13 writes:

sjt18:

If you hang your hat on Fulmer to get it done, you are going to be waiting a long, long time. You sound like the bitter UT fans of old who used to mock Bear Bryant and make fun of him. In hindsight, guess Bama was laughing at us while Bryant was kicking us to the curb most every year on his way to SEC championships and legendary fame. I wish we had Meyer at UT right now.

Realistically, if you look at the fact that Fulmer has to coach against Meyer, Richt, Spurrier and now Saban annually, there IS no hope for a Fulmer-led UT. If all 5 coaches stayed at those schools for 10 years, I dare say we would not beat all four in a given year in the ten year span. I have my doubts if we would go 3-1 in the same timeframe. 1-3 or 2-2 is much more likely. Maybe that is good enough for you, but not for me and many UT fans who are fed up with mediocrity and NO SEC title in ten years.

The sooner Fulmer is gone, the better. Then we can begin to rebuild our program. If we wait too much longer, we'll be facing odds similar to what LSU and Georgia faced. I certainly don't want to have to endure that as a fan.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features