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Florida Gators close ranks to support each other

GAINESVILLE — After suffering back-to-back losses for the first time since 2007, Florida coach Urban Meyer spent Sunday breaking down nearly every facet of his struggling offense while also thinking about facing his former offensive coordinator who is the coach of Mississippi State.

Through it all, Meyer said Monday that he and his staff have two major goals in the immediate future: keep the team from fracturing and find a way to get better.

"We've got to focus on getting better," Meyer said. "But the one thing around here is we win championships as a team, and we fight through adversity as a team. I made that real clear to our guys. … I just want to make sure we avoid the poison that affects a lot of college football teams across America. And there's only one way to do that — you get a little tighter, you get a little closer and you work a little harder. That's the only way we know how to do it around here, and that's what we're going to do."

Rumor central: Cyberspace rumors about John Brantley's status for the LSU game last week were so rampant that the quarterback had to spend time reassuring family members that he was going to play. Brantley denied having any broken ribs or a broken finger.

"I even had my sister text me and ask me if I'm playing, and I'm like, 'Yes, I'm playing. Are you kidding me? Of course I am,' " Brantley said. "And I told her that all week. And I had my cousin text me. It's whatever. Things happen."

Why the boos? Fans booed throughout Saturday's game, prompting senior C Mike Pouncey to question their motivation.

"I didn't even know what they were for," Pouncey said. "Do y'all know?"

When told during Monday's media day it was about the offensive play-calling, Pouncey, like Meyer, Brantley and other players, staunchly defended offensive coordinator Steve Addazio.

"The play-calling, I think it's been good," Pouncey said. "Coach Addazio is a great coach; he's been calling all the right plays. We're just not making the plays to be made. Obviously it makes it look bad on him, but he's calling the best plays that he can."

Injury updates: Brantley is still nursing sore ribs, and Meyer said that because of the way Brantley had to alter his throwing motion all last week in practice, he played with a sore shoulder against LSU. But Brantley said the injuries are not severe enough to keep him out of this Saturday's homecoming game against Mississippi State.

Others might not be as fortunate. Freshman S Matt Elam and WR Deonte Thompson each suffered concussions and did not practice Sunday. Meyer said they are expected to return to practice this week but cautioned, "These things are day to day."

Former St. Petersburg Catholic standout Jon Halapio had surgery Sunday on his broken finger and is doubtful. Junior RB Jeff Demps "felt a lot better" Sunday, Meyer said, but is still dealing with a sprained left foot, and his status remains uncertain.

Bittersweet return: Former UF offensive coordinator Dan Mullen will return to Gainesville this week for the first time since he left to take over the head coaching job at Mississippi State. Mullen already survived the drama of facing his former boss and close friend, Meyer, and his favorite pupil, QB Tim Tebow, when the Gators and Bulldogs met in Starkville last season. But Mullen admits he has no idea how he will respond to being back at Florida Field, where he enjoyed a great deal of success during his tenure.

"I've been very successful there, so I hope my success continues this week," Mullen said. "You know what? For me … it will be very different. When you go back to places you coached at for four years, I really think this weekend will be different. You are in a different locker room, you go in the stadium in a different entrance, you are standing on a different sideline. You are wearing a white jersey. So I think that part of it is going to be very different. It will be a completely different experience for me than all the other experiences I've had at that stadium."

Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com.

Florida Gators close ranks to support each other 10/11/10 [Last modified: Monday, October 11, 2010 9:29pm]

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