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Urban Meyer: Florida Gators' improvement starts with better practices

GAINESVILLE — Coach Urban Meyer said Monday that he is as much to blame as anyone for Florida's problems.

"We've obviously had some severe issues here in the last three weeks, and they've been damaging as far as the won-loss record," Meyer said. "The issue is not finding the blame; it's finding the solution, and that's what we're going to do this week. We began the task last week."

With last week's open date to evaluate the many problems, Meyer said there will be some changes but won't reveal specifics. Florida plays Georgia on Saturday at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, the first time since 1979 both are unranked going into the game.

Meyer reiterated that there will not be large personnel or play-calling changes and that much of the Gators' problems are due to injuries and failure to execute. But he said some problems can be traced to lack of practice and preparation and pointed the finger at himself.

"The first thing you ask is: 'Are you getting it done in practice?' " Meyer said. "And that's my job."

Meyer said that since last week there was a renewed focus on giving players enough repetition to be game-ready and assessing whether the staff is "asking players to do what they can do."

"I have more of an issue about efficiency of practice," he said. "Fundamentals don't improve for a lot of reasons. No. 1 is you don't practice them at game speed that you need to be practicing at. No. 2 (is) that you're not taught very well. No. 3 is that the player is not good enough. No. 3 is not allowed around here. So if I hear someone say that from a coach, there's no trade or waiver wire. That's not acceptable. … We don't hear it around here. You don't say that here. That's very clear to our staff. It is what it is, you got what you got, let's get them better and find out what they can do.

"Absolutely we have the talent level to execute at a high level. I'd like to see it all put together at once, so we can operate."

Injury updates: Junior RB Jeff Demps (sprained foot) has been running on the treadmill and looks promising for Saturday's game. He has missed two games and played sparingly in another since injuring his foot against Tennessee on Sept. 18. He's expected to practice 20-25 snaps a day. … The Gators will try to get injured K Caleb Sturgis back onto the field. Sturgis fractured his back and hasn't played since the Alabama game Oct. 2. Meyer said they'll try Sturgis out this week. … Freshman WR Andre Debose (ankle) and OL Matt Patchan (wrist) are questionable, and DT Jaye Howard (ankle) will play.

Swimming tragedy: Junior swimmer Teresa Crippen joined her family in Pennsylvania and will not compete in this weekend's meet against Georgia in the wake of her brother's death. Fran Crippen, 26, a member of the U.S. national team, died Saturday during an open-water race in the United Arab Emirates. Crippen failed to finish the race and was found in the water two hours later, about 400 yards from the finish of the 10K World Cup race.

"We don't expect her to be here this weekend," UF swimming and diving coach Gregg Troy said Monday. "It's a very tragic situation. They are an extremely close family. The whole family is certainly dealing with it — it was a loss for a lot of them. Even some of the men's team, a couple of those guys have traveled on a regular basis with Fran. He was a class act; it's a wonderful family. So we don't expect to have Teresa back for a while, and we'll do what we can to help that family in any way possible."

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

Urban Meyer: Florida Gators' improvement starts with better practices 10/25/10 [Last modified: Monday, October 25, 2010 10:18pm]

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