Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer tries to reassemble pieces

GAINESVILLE — When the reality of Saturday night's 36-14 loss to South Carolina finally settled in, Florida was left to acknowledge that there's very little to play for this season.

With two games left, coach Urban Meyer's biggest challenge is keeping his team from falling apart. His greatest hope is that he can send his seniors out with dignity.

"My whole focus is making sure that team sticks together," Meyer said Sunday. "You see it across college football where it disintegrates, and I can't let that happen. … The message was real clear after the game. That was a crushed, crushed group.

"Our special teams and defense played their hearts out. We had no momentum at all on offense, we couldn't get that thing to go. All the tempo and everything we worked so hard on for the last three weeks, it was like it went backward to where we were. So we've got a lot of work to do, but the key message is stick together. …

"And the other thing is these seniors, I was just counting them up, there are a couple that have two national championship rings. There's five guys basically starting in the NFL that are part of this senior class and you've got a group of seniors that have done some wonderful things here at Florida. And we want to respect them."

The Gators, who fell from the national rankings for the second time this season, will host Appalachian State on Saturday before closing the regular season at Florida State.

But their ultimate goal had been to make it to the SEC Championship Game, and with that off the table, pride must kick in.

"I'm not a quitter," senior S Ahmad Black said. "I don't think nobody on our team is a quitter."

"We're extremely disappointed," LB Jelani Jenkins said. "… We've just got to go out there the next couple weeks and play our heart out for our seniors and all the guys who gave their all to this program."

DEFENDING THE DEFENSE: Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said South Carolina did nothing surprising, which added to his disappointment over the defense's performance. The Gamecocks gained 395 yards, including 239 on the ground. The run defense also struggled against LSU, Mississippi State and Alabama — all losses. Saturday, the defense was on the field 40 minutes, 46 seconds, but Austin refused to concede that fatigue was a major factor.

"I think when you look at it, the games we've given up runs, it's been probably a combination of some things," Austin said. "Third-down defense where they keep drives alive, not tackling very well, also not fitting the run very well. It all contributes to it. … In games we needed to have great run defense, we didn't."

DEMPS MIA: For the seventh straight week, junior RB Jeff Demps, who suffered a foot injury Sept. 18 vs. Tennessee, was unable to play much, helping to render the running game nearly nonexistent. Demps had just two carries Saturday. "He's got a stress reaction in his foot," Meyer said. "It's something that's very painful. It's something you have to be very careful about."

Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer tries to reassemble pieces 11/14/10 [Last modified: Sunday, November 21, 2010 6:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay Downs full of high-paying races this season


    OLDSMAR — Tampa Bay Downs is green like never before.

  2. Astros rout Yankees to force Game 7 of AL Championship Series


    HOUSTON — Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings to outduel Luis Severino for the second time, and the Astros bats came alive in their return home as Houston routed the Yankees 7-1 Friday night and forced a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

    The Astros’ Brian McCann, who has struggled during the ALCS, breaks a scoreless tie with an RBI double during the fifth inning off Yankees starter Luis Severino.
  3. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.
  4. Quarterback Jameis Winston will start Sunday for the Bucs


    TAMPA — Jameis Winston hadn't thrown in practice since he injured his right shoulder in Sunday's loss at Arizona, and with that uncertainty, a wide line of TV cameras and reporters' cellphones were all out Friday morning, recording the moment as Winston tested his shoulder with his first throws early in …

    Despite a sore shoulder, Jameis Winston will be making his 38th consecutive start since being drafted first overall in 2015.
  5. Bucs journal: LB Kwon Alexander ready to return from injury


    TAMPA — LB Kwon Alexander, sidelined by a hamstring injury since the second quarter of the Bucs' season opener against Chicago, will finally make a healthy return Sunday against the Bills.

    Linebacker Kwon Alexander needs “to get my stats back up” after being out since the opener.