Make us your home page
Instagram

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 add glitz to spring football game

GAINESVILLE — There was a time when Urban Meyer wasn't all that fond of spring games. In fact, he didn't quite understand why the fans were so interested in a glorified practice.

"My first time in the Swamp, we had that huge crowd (58,500), and I remember thinking, 'What are you people doing?' " he said. " 'Go play golf or something.' "

Three years later, things have changed, and so has Meyer's thinking. Which is why he's pulling out all the stops today for Florida's annual Orange and Blue game.

"It's kind of a fan appreciation day, to get them out there," Meyer said. "It's going to be much more than just a game."

For starters, ESPN's College GameDay crew will broadcast live from a spring game for the first time. There will be pregame autograph sessions, a yard sale and opportunities for fans to get photos with the 2007 Heisman Trophy and 2006 national championship trophy.

And there's the fastest Gator on campus competition, which pits finalists who qualified this spring against receivers Louis Murphy and Deonte Thompson and running back Chris Rainey in a 40-yard dash.

And yes, there will actually be a scrimmage, too. But don't expect to see some of the Gators' best players in action for long. Murphy, quarterback Tim Tebow, linebacker Brandon Spikes, running back Kestahn Moore and offensive lineman Jim Tartt will play sparingly.

The future, however, will be on display quite a bit, including the two quarterbacks battling to back up Tebow — Cameron Newton and John Brantley.

"I want to see how they handle the crowd," Meyer said. "I know how Tebow handles the crowds. Now I want to see how the other two handle it."

What you might see is a much-improved defense. That unit was of greatest concern entering the spring.

But first-year cornerbacks coach Vance Bedford said several returning players have made "dramatic improvements." And incoming freshman cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Jeremy Brown have made an early impact, Bedford said.

"We have a lot of competition, and those two young freshmen are making the guys that are here better," he said. "We started off a little bit slow, a little bit raggedy. But as we've gone through spring practice, they know what the expectations are now. So I'm pleased right now with their performance. The way we've practiced this spring, I think they've matured quite a bit."

Meyer said he's hoping for a huge crowd today to give his young players an opportunity to play in the kind of atmosphere they'll be asked to perform in about four months from now. That's all that's left to accomplish this spring, he said.

"One thing we want at Florida is for the players to see how they react in front of a big crowd," Meyer said. "Otherwise, we've had 13 excellent days (of practice). The spring game is for players who haven't done a whole lot, but I don't want to disappoint the fans and people watching on ESPN.

"So that's why we wanted to do something more than just a lousy football game."

Antonya English can be reached

at english@sptimes.com.

Gators add glitz to spring football game 04/11/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 14, 2008 1:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays at Twins, 2:10 p.m. Saturday, Minneapolis

    The Heater

    Today: at Twins

    2:10, Target Field, Minneapolis

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

  2. State baseball: Unbeaten Calvary Christian makes it 29 straight wins, reaches final

    Baseballpreps

    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian is one game from season-long perfection. And its first state championship.

     Calvary Christian players celebrate their win after the FHSAA class 4A semi-final against American Heritage on Friday May 26, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary defeated American Heritage 7 to 1. Calvary takes on Pensacola Catholic in the championship tomorrow night, at Hammond Stadium.
  3. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win

    Colleges

    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.
  4. Rays journal: Rookie Daniel Robertson takes pride in sparkling defense

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Rookie INF Daniel Robertson has earned raves for his defensive play at both second base and shortstop, making a highlight play almost every game he starts, including one in the fifth inning Friday.

    Robertson
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    RF Steven Souza is always, shall we say, entertaining. In the second, he made an impressive running, leaping catch. In the seventh, he made either the worst dive for a ball a good 15 feet away or was trying for the best deke. In the eighth, he hit a massive homer.