It was a good news/bad news practice Tuesday for the Florida Gators as they prepare to face Ohio State in the national championship game in Glendale, Arizona on January 8. The good news is that Coach Urban Meyer loves the attitude and effort he’s seeing from his team. The bad news was seeing senior tailback DeShawn Wynn walking off the field wearing an ankle boot.
Wynn has suffered through a variety of injuries this year including a knee that kept slowed him a couple of games and most recently a chronic shoulder problem that bothered him throughout November and carried over into the SEC Championship Game victory over Arkansas. This new injury apparently isn’t nearly as severe as some of the others he’s had this year.
“He has a bone bruise on the top of his foot,” said Meyer after Tuesday’s practice. .”He’s going to be fine they tell me.”
Wynn leads the Gators in rushing with 630 yards (5.1 yards per carry) on just 124 carries.
Also on the injury front, Drew Miller’s ankle continues to heal slowly.
“We put him back in a boot so he’s going to be another couple of days,” said Meyer.
Senior defensive tackle Ray McDonald, who hyperextended his elbow in the win over Arkansas, is running at full speed now and Meyer says he will be ready to play against Ohio State.
The Gators will practice Wednesday and Thursday, then they will break for Christmas before they reconvene on December 27. Monday and Tuesday practices have gone well, perhaps better than expected and Meyer is very happy with what he’s seen so far. He’s not concerned that his team will lose focus during the days off for Christmas.
“I think it’s going to be great,” said Meyer. “Someone asked me the other day, how do you get away from it? I don’t think anybody wants to get away from it right now. We’ve all been in certain ruts during the year where guys can’t wait to get the heck out of here and coaches can’t wait to get away from the players. I don’t feel that at all. It’s the way it should be. There’s no one in a hurry. They’re anxious to see their families but they’re also anxious to prepare to win a game. You couldn’t ask for more attention to detail and better attitude than what we have so far.”
He’s not worried that the team will come back any less ready to work, either.
“I don’t worry about bad attitude,” he said. “I worry about being out of shape … the advantage that we have over the teams that play the 31st and the 1st — my first year at Utah we played the 31st I believe and that was scary because we let them go for those days and we came back the 26th — we’ll come back the 27th but we’ll have 10 days until we play so we’ll be fine.”
Meyer said that playing in the Southeastern Conference has prepared his team well for a big game like the one coming up. The Gators have a lot of respect for Ohio State but they’re not in awe of the unbeaten and number one ranked Buckeyes.
“Playing in this conference I think we’re beyond all that,” he said. “We have great respect for them. It’s going to be a great game with two very good teams. I think when I was at Utah we had to deal with that but you come to Florida to play in these kind of games so there’s not a lack of confidence and we’re not overconfident but we’re anxious to go play the game.”
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Meyer said he’s been reminded “a couple thousand times” that Florida has a chance to do something that’s never been done. Florida won the NCAA basketball tournament back in April so if the Gators win the football championship, it will mark the first time ever that one school has held the basketball and football titles in the same year.
“I say sure, let’s go do it … it’s never been done before,” said Meyer, who said he still recalls the words of Joakim Noah, Florida’s All-America center on the basketball team and the MVP of last year’s NCAA Tournament.
“I still remember the day Noah said it’s football’s turn,” said Meyer.
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Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen said the bowl practices are helping to get his young offensive guns ready to make more contributions.
“The young guys are getting extra reps, more experience and getting more comfortable in the offense and getting more work on fundamentals,” said Mullen. “For young players this is a huge advantage to get another three weeks of practice in.”
Mullen said that Percy Harvin, the SEC’s Freshman Offensive Player of the Year, is going full speed.
“Percy is healthy and we’re planning on him being 100 percent for the game,” said Mullen.