GLENDALE, ARIZONA- A great divide exists between team and personal
accomplishments for Chris Hetland. His team is in the BCS National
Championship Game. Meanwhile, Hetland entered the season riding a high
that earned him 2005 second team AP and Coaches’ All-Southeastern
Conference honors. However, a season full of promise has turned into a
Hetland has hit on only 4 of 13 field goals with a long of 33 yards, which he hit against Arkansas in the SEC Championship Game. It marked the first field goal beyond 30 yards of the season for the 12-1 Gators.
The Leesburg, Georgia native connected on only one of his first seven attempts through the initial eight games of the schedule. However, since the Vanderbilt game, Hetland has hit three of his last six attempts.
“The past month and a half I’ve hit the ball better than ever. And all season I’ve been hitting it well. I went through just a little dry spell.”
Several weeks ago Florida coach Urban Meyer stood behind the podium before the media and proclaimed that Hetland would win a game for the Gators before the season is over. He even told Hetland as much in a statement that took far less time than it did before the media.
“It actually happened just that way,” Hetland said. “We’re friends of short conversations I guess. It was really to the point and I’m just waiting for that opportunity. And it’s really cool that he is showing that kind of confidence in me. I appreciate it. It gives me confidence to go out there and do what I know I can do.”
“Coach (Urban) Meyer says it everyday in practice,” he added. “You’re going to win a game for us. That’s the way he kind of puts pressure on me with certain kicks. It’s a little added pressure.”
Meyer has tackled so many unsettling issues both on and off the field with sound results. The results, such as the Marcus Thomas fiasco don’t always achieve the desired result, but the fact is that Meyer put Thomas in a position to succeed. Thomas simply failed. So many others- Dallas Baker, Steven Harris, and DeShawn Wynn just to name a few have met with outstanding success. The passing of Reggie Nelson’s mother is yet another example where Meyer has truly turned to the family.
The fact that Meyer puts forth such concentrated effort in the lives of these young men should serve to greatly please anybody who cheers for Orange and Blue. He’d get my vote for National Coach of the Year.
Meyer has delivered on the field as well. He has so many of his Gators playing the best football of their careers. Those who have needed a jolt of confidence have received as much from Meyer with many of those players delivering. With one game remaining is Hetland next?
How sweet would it be if Meyer hit on his prognostication?
Struggling Chris Hetland hits the game winner, while the Gators dispose of the top ranked Buckeyes- Meyer’s formerly beloved Buckeyes- in the process. It’s something that has been on Hetland’s mind.
“Three for three, win the game,” Hetland said with a smile on his face and a determined look in his eyes. “I’ve had dreams about it every day and they all pretty much come out on top. That would be the perfect way to end a season of struggle.”
And to thank his coach and his teammates for a tremendous vote of confidence.