November 5, 2007

Meyer Q&A: Gators get defensive

"Our goal is to compete for SEC East championships in November, and we're doing that. The first year we failed. The second year we succeeded. The third year's here, so I promise you we'll have a great week of practice. It will be high energy. It will be our last SEC game. It's an unusual year where teams have kind of beat each other up, but we still have a great opportunity. Our guys are excited about it."

Does it feel a little like two years ago because you're going up to South Carolina needing to win and get a little help, or does it feel nothing like two years ago because you have a different mindset that team had not bought into yet?

"It's completely different. There are some similarities. The thing you said about needing help, but as far as knowing the team and having a little more confidence and trust, it feels a lot different in that regard."

With all the research you guys did on Percy Harvin when you recruited him, has he changed as a person or did he just need a change of scenery?

"That's a great question. Here's my opinion on that. Obviously you do an enormous amount of research before you recruit a young guy, especially a high-profile player like that, and obviously there were situations in high school that he was involved in. What happens is a lot of these high-profile people, because of dot.com and because of everything else and because sometimes these young athletes just get things handed to them, they are also a target. There can be eight people involved in something, and the athlete is the one that gets targeted and he's the guy who gets abused by the fans. He would probably be the first to tell you he didn't know how to handle those situations. Not that he was a bad guy, but he knows how to handle situations right now. His last month at the University of Florida as far as practice, as far as seeing him say things to the defense, you see his work ethic, you see his camaraderie with his teammates, he's had his best month at Florida."

You've mentioned Brandon Spikes the last three times you've talked to us. Can you talk about his evolution?

"Brandon Spikes is a player who thought you went out and played the game and preparation was not really, we really missed Brandon Siler because Siler was such a great leader in preparation. As with a lot of young players, Brandon Spikes believed in going out and going to tackle the guy with the ball. A lot of times he was out of gaps and made mistakes. The greatest testimony to Brandon Spikes is his comments after the (Vanderbilt) game. I had him speak to the team because coach Strong pointed out that he played very well, and he took responsibility that he would never let it happen again the way he let a defense down the way he did (against Georgia). It's not because of effort and it's not because of (a lack) love for the game of football. It's because of maybe preparation and trying to go above and beyond what his job responsibility is. Defense is all about gap control and doing your job. If you try to overdo your job, you're in the wrong gap, and that's when you see creases and people making mistakes. Brandon had a tendency to do that."

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