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March 18, 2005

Meyer anxious for pads work

InsidetheGators.net will bring you the most complete coverage of spring football practice anywhere. Read this free practice report and then get our 7-DAY FREE TRIAL to read the rest of the great Gator football action on InsidetheGators.net!

Day two of Florida's spring practice Friday afternoon is in the books, a rather uneventful day in shorts that has head coach Urban Meyer eagerly looking ahead.

"It was a good day today, but tomorrow's the day, though," Meyer said. "Tomorrow's the day that counts, we'll have a winner and loser, and we'll see what happens - I'm anxious to see."

On Saturday morning, the Gators will engage in a little controlled scrimmage work, concentrating on short-yardage plays near the endzone. The team will be in pads for the first time and Meyer is anxious to begin evaluating his players, especially his trio of tailbacks - juniors DeShawn Wynn and Skyler Thornton and redshirt freshman Markus Manson - who will be in the glare of the spotlight all spring.

"I've been hard on the tailbacks and they've had two good days, but once again there's been no pads," Meyer said. "That's a noticeable position right now. Wynn and Skyler and Markus have done a nice job but tomorrow we're going to do a lot of goal-line, short-yardage situations, pound the ball in there and we're going to find out if they can throw it in the endzone."

With only three tailbacks available this spring, there will be plenty of opportunities for all the backs, but the depth is a situation that concerns Meyer.

"It's an advantage to them, for us it's not quite the advantage," he said. "You'd like to have five of 'em - we need six in this offense and next year we'll have four with (incoming freshman) Kestahn Moore. They're going to get a ton of reps tomorrow though."

After noting that his two scholarship quarterbacks, junior Chris Leak and true freshman Josh Portis, seemed a little tentative with their throws in the opening practice, Meyer saw some improvement in day two.

"They let it rip a little today," he said. "Chris did a nice job today and I think Josh is obviously not near as far ahead as Chris, but he's talented. It kind of scares you when you see only two scholarship quarterbacks practicing. So we're anxious - our basketball team (with quarterback Cornelius Ingram) won today - and to get (Gavin) Dickey back (from the UF baseball team) ASAP will help us as well."

Meyer said the offense progressed a little in the second workout, adding a few more plays to the mix, but he would rather not have folks looking too hard at the early results.

"We got two more plays in today, the shovel pass and the speed option and then some short-yardage stuff," he said. "The good thing is we're not an offense that's full of plays, it's a bunch of different formations with the same plays.

"So a lot of the base is in, now we'll have to keep repping because it looks awful. We've just got to keep going. It's why we put the offense over there (on the far practice field) - we don't want anyone to see it yet. I'd like to put the blue (fence) screen around it for a while."

Meyer, who has been positive about the attitude and effort of his team since he arrived, continued to relay an upbeat message, even after limited practice time.

"Right now it's two good days of guys bouncing around, giving good effort," he said. "On defense you have no idea until you put the pads on. They're flying around well but tomorrow we'll have a good little discussion about where we're at."

NOTEBOOK: It was another overcast, chilly afternoon - by Gainesville standards - but Meyer, clad in shorts without a windbreaker or sweatshirt, wasn't buying any of the cold talk. "Don't tell me this is cold," he said with a smile. "If you want cold, I'll name some places you can live where it's cold." . . . Redshirt freshman tight end Dane Guthrie missed his second day of work due to a pulled hamstring. He is expected to practice on Monday. "It's nothing serious," Meyer said, "but that's hurting him because he's got to get out here." . . . Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Branden Daniel was working "in the pit," according to Meyer, the area where injured players are rehabbing off to the side of the practice field. Daniel had offseason shoulder surgery about six weeks ago and according to Meyer, "It was a serious surgery so he's not going to get much done this spring." . . . Sophomore safety Tony Joiner did not practice on Friday. "He has a personal issue that needs to be taken care of," Meyer said. "We'll get it taken care of soon." . . . A number of college and high school coaches were in attendance, including a handful of coaches from the University of South Florida. Included in that group was former Florida assistant coach Carl Franks . . . The Gators will practice at 10:25 Saturday morning, and will be off on Sunday before returning to the practice field Monday afternoon. Workouts are scheduled for Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday next week, with the first big official spring scrimmage slated for next Saturday morning on Florida Field.

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