Coach Meyer and QB Tim Tebow answered several questions before the media today in anticipation of the Gators’ first game against Western Kentucky this weekend.
On quarterback Tim Tebow’s throwing ability
We seem to get asked that question quite often and it is probably our fault because we did what we had to do to throw the ball last year. But he can throw fine.
On Cameron Newton and the decision to make him back-up quarterback
Cameron Newton is not a good person- he is a great person. He comes from a great family. He has a very similar game program as Tim (Tebow) so that figured into the decision making process. If we are putting together an offense, we don’t want the difference to be drastic. Chris Leak ran a different offense than we are going to this year. Johnny Brantley is going to be a great quarterback so we are developing him. Those two quarterbacks should be starters at Florida. They are both very talented guys and you don’t want to just waste a year. You have to have two on call- really you have to have three on call. Cameron Newton went through spring practice and probably has a little more knowledge of the offense. He is more mature physically. Johnny is still growing up, but I hope Cameron doesn’t grow up too much more or he will be playing defensive tackle. The real reason was that he went through spring practice and that the team play won’t have to change drastically if he goes into the game. But he is a phenomenal person. Not a great leader yet, he is still young and you can see the youth show up on hard days. He’s a great person but he’s not a great leader, he is not what Tim was at this time. When Tim was in sixth grade he could go in and be a leader, but Cameron has come a long way but still has a ways to go.
On the younger players handling the game day experience
We went through our practice schedule and our kids have gone through many more game situations at practice as they had a year ago. You didn’t need to teach Ray McDonald how to handle pre-game situations. We focused on pre-game much more than we ever have. We went through all of the little things so that they can focus on going four to six seconds. That is our whole theme this week as you can see throughout the facilities. Four to six seconds as hard as you can go and if they can do that then they will be fine.
On the new kickoff rule
Here is the concern on kickoff- first of all, if a kid jumps offside then that is a 70-yard sprint that they have to come back and do again. If a team kicks off against us, we are going to make them kick it again.
Kickoff return is much easier than kickoff. For kickoff return you drop back about 20 yards and then you go. Kickoff you are sprinting 70 yards and it would be a tough thing to come back and do it again. You won’t have the same juice running down the field the second time. I have the same concern when we are kicking off; if we blow ourselves out and the knucklehead kicks it out of bounds then we have a flaw. I am anxious to see how it works out, it is new to be. But we are going to take the ball and that’s no secret. I think it will have an impact on scoring, especially in the first series.
On talk of a repeat
I think it is unfair to say “forget that never happened.” We used to have a lot of stuff around here and all of that is now gone, but I think its unfair for the kids to say forget it and that never happened. But lets just get back and do it again. Tiger Woods said it best when he said that the great programs and great players want to repeat and want to do it again and again and if that means letting them wear their rings then we are going to let them do that. I go back to four to six seconds as hard as you can go, and then you have a chance to be successful.
On his expectations of Tim Tebow before Saturday’s game
I bet we will have to calm him down. That is a concern. I think if the human element comes into play he will get it straightened out really fast. Ever since he was a little boy he wanted to be the starting quarterback at the University of Florida and now it is here and it is five days away. I think that he will be fine. The best thing about Tim is that if he has a bad play, he is strong enough mentally to jump right back in and it won’t affect him the play after that.
On Cornelius Ingram being the face of Florida football
We started that with Vernell Brown. If I had a choice of what I wanted our guys to be known for it would be for high character, good work ethic and a very unselfish approach to the game. The first time it was Vernell, then it happened to be Jemalle [Cornelius] and now its C.I.
Quarterback Tim Tebow:
I think you always have it in the back of your head for motivation, you want to get to that point in the season of winning a national championship and getting bowl rings, but at the same time that was last season, you’ve got to put that behind you and worry about this season.
Last season we were totally different, we had different guys and it was a different feel. This season you’ve got to do what you think is right for this season and worry about what is now. What I did with my rings, I gave one to my dad, one to one of my brothers and my other brother I gave him the SEC watch and I still have the national championship ring.
On his relationship with Cam Newton
Chris was so much older and they are different style players. There was a lot I could learn from Chris and try to be like Chris, and now with Cam, a guy who has a totally different personality too. Chris was more of the silent type, you learn from watching Cam that he’s definitely a talker.
On the leadership of his teammates:
One of the main people on offense is Drew Miller, he’s really stepped up with his leadership. I think Bubba Caldwell also stepped up with being a leader. Bubba’s always been a leader too, but I think this year he’s made it more vocal with helping everybody else out. Everyday he goes out there and is not only worried about how he runs his routes, how he catches the ball, he’s worried about how Jarred Fayson is running his routes and how Justin Williams runs his routes. So I think he’s done a great job with being a leader, being very unselfish with helping other guys out.
On timing with receivers:
I think you definitely get a better timing with certain receivers. That just goes with working together and who you work with most of the time, who you don’t work with the other times, what type of route they run. I just think there is a lot of stuff that goes into it. Sometimes it is even off the field that you get to know someone so well, that when you get on the field it happens so much faster for you in leading that receiver and what he’s going to do for you. I think there’s a lot that goes into it.
On Coach Meyer:
Coach Meyer is definitely gets into everybody’s head that’s for sure. I think so much of more of Coach Meyer is that he is more than the head coach. He is the head coach, he does a great job with wins and losses and game plans, but I think his best attributes are how much he cares about the kids and how much he wants to help them. Countless guys have gotten so much better off the field in just doing what is right and just the way they treat people because of Coach Meyer. I think the best thing about him, actually is that he cares more about how the guys succeed off the field than how they succeed on the field. That’s why our team is so close. That’s what gives us the opportunity to fight through tough situations with each other. I think the best thing he does is motivate players, everyday. Some days through two-a-days you go out there and you don’t feel like practicing or you’re hot, you’re sore, you’re tired, but you want to go out there and perform for Coach Meyer. He does such a great job of motivating guys and getting guys fired up and getting guys to want to do the right thing and getting guys to treat their body like they are a professional athlete. All the things he does besides the X’s and O’s, that’s what makes him such a great coach.