Florida coach Urban Meyer knew the questions were coming. After dropping three straight games to Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State, how could they not?
But as he took the podium for his weekly press conference Monday morning, Meyer attempted to answer some of the more pressing issues before they were actually asked.
With Georgia (4-4, 3-3) set to challenge the Gators (4-3, 2-3) Saturday (3:30, CBS) in Jacksonville, Meyer has plenty on his mind, not the least of which has to do with jumpstarting an offense which currently ranks near the bottom of the SEC standings in several important categories.
Not only does Florida rank ninth in scoring offense (27.6 points per game), but the Gators also rank ninth total offense at 329 yards per contest, and actually quite a bit behind the eight-ranked team - Georgia - which is averaging 382.1.
Combine that with the fact that Florida has proven inconsistent both running and throwing the football, it's been enough for Meyer to ask himself several important questions.
"The first thing you ask is, 'Are you getting it done in practice?' And that's my job. I believe the number one job as a head coach during the season, once you go through the recruiting and the staff, and (everything else), you find out now is when there is a lack of execution, how does that occur? The answer is not to say 'Well, that guy, that guy, that guy.' I understand on the outside at times... Not at times, that's the way it is," Meyer said. "But on the inside, now why is the execution not being accomplished? Is it because we don't practice enough? Is it because we don't get them in that situation enough? We call it a competitive excellence around here; that you're in that position over and over and over and over again so that when it hits during a game, you execute it. We're not into excuses. We're not into this happened because. It's fix the issues. No. 2 is making sure we're asking guys to do what they can do."
To do that, Meyer admitted that with an extra week to prepare for the Bulldogs, he and his assistants have done some tinkering with their offense.
But exactly what those modifications might be, Meyer isn't saying.
"Yes, I'm not going to share much with you, but we have modified quite a bit. I'm obviously not going to say, 'Here's what we're going to do,' but things are modified and the injury issue, the personnel issue, is real so that's going to help, I'm thinking. I'm going to let you know later this week and see how it goes, but it doesn't look like us out there," Meyer said. "It doesn't look like BANG. I want to have the thud. We all want that. How do you get that? You recruit it. You develop it. You coach it. You make sure you're practicing the mess out of it. That's kind of where we're at."
Finding a cure to eliminate what's been a plethora of turnovers is also tops on Meyer's list.
The Gators have turned the football over 14 times (eight fumbles, six interceptions) in seven games heading into the contest against Georgia, which by comparison has lost the football just eight time in eight games (three interceptions, five fumbles).
"We've been No. 1 in the Southeastern Conference really for the last forever. We've been I think number one in the country as far as turnovers, and the last three games we've had five interceptions and three fumbles," Meyer said. "Once again, we're not here to assess blame. It's, now why? The why I have always evaluated turnovers - and some of the people I spoke with, my coaching colleagues - is I put it with carelessness and toughness, and are you careless with the ball? And are you a tough guy carrying the ball or holding the ball or whatever? Because when you get whacked, they're going to happen once in a while but carelessness and toughness.
"And when you say carelessness, are we practicing that enough and do we have enough ball protection drills during practice? So fundamentals fall underneath carelessness. We've had more turnovers this year than we had in all of '08 already."
NOTES: Meyer said that running back Jeff Demps was expected to practice between 20 and 25 snaps Monday, but that wide receiver Andre DuBose was still questionable for the Bulldogs. Offensive tackle Matt Patchan is also listed as questionable.
As for wide receiver Chris Rainey, who is eligible to play following his recent suspension, Meyer said "He's eligible to play but that decision won't be made until
It's day-to-day. There are a lot of expectations we have of him, and if he fulfills his obligations he'll be playing. If he doesn't, he won't."
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