Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer puts focus on team's deficiencies

QB Tim Tebow, left, embraces WR Deonte Thompson, who got Florida’s first TD on Saturday — in the third quarter.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

QB Tim Tebow, left, embraces WR Deonte Thompson, who got Florida’s first TD on Saturday — in the third quarter.

GAINESVILLE — Florida coach Urban Meyer and his staff spent Sunday searching for answers to the growing problems that are plaguing the Gators, most notably turnovers, sacks and a lackluster offense, as they prepare to face Mississippi State this week.

In its 23-20 win Saturday over Arkansas, Florida fumbled on three consecutive possessions, twice inside the red zone, against a defense ranked worst in the SEC. The Gators have 11 turnovers — all in the past five games.

"Guys aren't going to touch the ball that we don't have confidence in," Meyer said. "We're not in some charity program where, 'Hey, let's try to get this guy the ball.' If you're not tight with the ball, you're not going to touch it. … We're going to point it out on film, coach it, and eventually if it doesn't improve, those guys don't touch the ball. I have great confidence our guys will."

So after celebrating the win Saturday night, Sunday was about the shortcomings.

"We kind of operate around here with urgency, and that's not something we're ashamed of," Meyer said. "… You lead in all these (statistical) categories, but you still don't feel like we're operating at the highest level of efficiency. No. 1, that's turnovers, that's the first indication. You score those three times down in the red zone, we're sitting here maybe with less urgency. So there are positives.

"No. 1 is we're going to practice with a very high rate of urgency this week. And No. 2 is you found a way to win a game when you probably shouldn't have. That tells you the team really stuck together and made plays when you had to."

The Gators are 67th in Division I-A in passing offense (210.67) and 74th in sacks allowed. QB Tim Tebow was sacked four times. The Gators are currently scoring about 50 percent of the time in the red zone.

"It's something we've got to work on and get better on," Tebow said. "We've got to find a way to execute and put it in. We've got to get better at it."

SPIKES QUESTIONABLE: The status of senior LB Brandon Spikes is uncertain. Spikes is nursing a groin injury he suffered in the LSU game and was forced to leave after the second series against Arkansas. "Brandon Spikes is going to be day-to-day," Meyer said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3389.

Up next

State teams

FSU: at North Carolina, 8 Thursday, ESPN

USF: at No. 20 Pittsburgh, noon Saturday, Ch. 28

No. 8 Miami: vs. Clemson, 3:30 Saturday, Ch. 28

UCF: at Rice, 3:30 Saturday

Florida: at Mississippi State, 7:30 Saturday, ESPN

Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer puts focus on team's deficiencies 10/18/09 [Last modified: Monday, October 19, 2009 7:32am]

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