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December 30, 2009

Players see Meyer remaining the same

MORE STORIES: Meyer coming back in August? | Gators ready for Sugar Bowl | Tebow remembered | Tuesday Sugar Bowl Notebook | Defense looking to reclaim status | Impact on prospects | Season of distractions | Addazio Monday Q&A | Five burning questions | Meyer's next move could define him

NEW ORLEANS - A tiger can't change his stripes.

That's the prevailing thought on Urban Meyer's task of changing his coaching style to ensure that he doesn't jeopardize his health.

Though many feel that will be the key to his eventual comeback, his players don't necessarily think a change is in the works.

"He puts 100 percent effort into everything he does," senior receiver David Nelson said. "With the competitor that he is, the motivator that it is, and how intense he is, it's going to be tough for him to step away and say, "Here you go coach (Steve) Addazio. Here's the keys to the team, just take over."

After Monday's first practice in the Superdome, safety Will Hill said that Meyer looked like the same old guy out there, still coaching with the same intensity.

After Wednesday's final practice in the Superdome, it was more of the same.

"That's who he is," Nelson said. "He's not going to come out here and give us 50 percent or 75 percent. He's going to come out here and be just as fiery and just as intense as he always is."

Nelson added he believes that black-and-white truth could ultimately be good for Meyer, as it would make a decision to stay away from coaching easier if Meyer is sure that he cannot change, thus adversely affecting his health.

Still, it doesn't seem possible for him to remain head coach and simply dial it back a bit.

The sentiment seems to be either he will coach as hard as he can for as long as his health permits, or he will be forced to walk away from the recruiting, game planning and practicing.

Tim Tebow, who probably knows Meyer better than any other player, felt the same way.

"I don't think coach Meyer is going to change too much of his personality as far as a football coach," Tebow said. "I think he can delegate more and send more responsibility down to other people, and I think that is going help him, help his stress, help his workload. But as far as his passion and his drive, I think he will always have that because that's what makes coach Meyer. That's what makes him special as a coach."

UF running backs coach Kenny Carter, who went to school and coached at The Citadel, has his unit take on a "man down" attitude when one of his backs goes down to injury - all the remaining healthy running backs are expected to do a little bit extra in order to cover for the injured.

Now, Carter said the coaching staff will need to assume that same attitude for as long as Meyer is figuring out how to get his health problems under control.

"Being a military guy, the first thing you think about is, I've got to make sure that my comrade is in good shape," Carter said. "Then we can get him back to full strength, then we'll take care of business and go forward. But until he's ready to go, we're going to take up the slack and do what we need to do."

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