|COLLEGE FB PACKAGE: Gators wary of early start time and history in Magnolia State|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 19 September 2007 13:50|
It might be needed more than ever at Mississippi on Saturday.
The third-ranked Gators face several challenges in their first road game of the season: traveling with such a young team - Florida is playing 48 freshmen and sophomores - and having lost the last three trips to the Magnolia State. Even more concerning, though, is the rare, 11:30 a.m. local time kickoff.
``The red flags are up,'' coach Urban Meyer said. ``That is a major concern. We don't have the answer. We're just going to keep researching it. I even asked some of the players I trust: 'How do we make sure we're energized?'
``(Tim) Tebow's fine. He goes to sleep charged and he wakes up charged. I'm not worried about that one. It's the dead fish I'm worried about. Believe it or not, we still have some dead fish that we have to awaken.''
Florida faced a similar situation during Meyer's first season, when the Gators played Iowa in the Outback Bowl and had the same late-morning start time.
Meyer called former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce and former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz for advice. They told him he needed to find a way to get the players going early.
Meyer's solution? Well, some would call it a rude awakening.
``When we wake them up, it's a circus,'' Meyer said. ``There's no alarm clock going off. There's assistant coaches kicking doors in. Everybody does the same thing. They rip the curtains open, open the windows, give them an orange juice and throw a newspaper at them and have fun with those guys.''
It worked so well the first time - Florida beat Iowa 31-24 - that the Gators have used the same routine for every road game since.
``Even when we play at night we do that,'' Meyer said. ``The players, some of them look forward to it. Some of them probably can't stand it. That's part of the deal.''
After the coaches get everyone out of bed, they walk a few laps around the hotel and then sit down for breakfast. That's when offensive line coach Steve Addazio takes over.
``It's exciting,'' center Drew Miller said. ``He gets up and brings a lot of energy and juice for us, trying to get us motivated. It's just gets us excited and ready to play. He's always got spit flying.''
The Gators hope the pep talk, along with better play, will help them end a three-game losing streak in Mississippi.
NICE CATCH: Alabama receiver Matt Caddell had been quietly pulling duty as a blocker and a decoy, going without a catch in the first two games.
That all changed in the final two drives of the Crimson Tide's 41-38 win over Arkansas, culminating in his leaping touchdown grab with 8 seconds left.
``That's the kind of guy he is,'' tailback Terry Grant said. ``He's kind of quiet, then all of a sudden he sneaks up and bites you.''
Caddell suddenly became the Tide's go-to guy with star DJ Hall hobbled late by a sore quadricep. Caddell had six catches for 54 yards on the final two drives, resulting in a field goal and his 4-yard touchdown.
Caddell's nine-catch game was only seven fewer than he had all of last season.
But the soft-spoken senior didn't use it as a chance to gripe about his lack of chances in the first two games, or lobby for more.
``It didn't bother me,'' Caddell said. ``As long as we're winning, it doesn't matter to me. Long as I do my job whether it's just playing without the ball, blocking, running routes to get other people open. It wasn't that big a deal.
``We have a lot of games. There's going to be plenty of opportunities.''
Maybe none quite like that, though. Caddell said he had ``80-something'' text messages waiting for him after the game and some 20 missed calls.
Tide coach Nick Saban praised both Caddell's final play and his strong spring and fall practices.
``He's been preparing all year long and he got his chance in this game and he took advantage of it,'' Saban said.
TIGHTEN UP: Arkansas' beleaguered secondary needs a quick recovery.
Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson had a big day against the Razorbacks last week and now Andre Woodson and No. 21 Kentucky come to town.
Woodson threw four touchdowns Saturday night to lead the Wildcats over Louisville 40-34.
``He's very, very accurate - does a great job with the offense. It seems like he gets better with each snap,'' Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. ``We've just got our work cut out for us. We've got to get better in the secondary.''
The Razorbacks were just a few seconds from a memorable win Saturday night. They rallied from a three-touchdown deficit in the second half against the Crimson Tide, but Wilson found Matt Caddell for a 4-yard touchdown with 8 seconds remaining for a 41-38 win.
Wilson threw for 327 yards and four touchdowns. On several occasions, Arkansas players appeared to have good coverage but had their backs turned to the passer and weren't able to find the ball quickly enough.
``We've been in pretty good position, but we've got to get better at playing the ball,'' Nutt said. ``We've got to make some plays.''
Arkansas clearly misses cornerback Chris Houston, who left for the NFL with a year of eligibility remaining. This week, the Razorbacks have shifted safety Michael Grant to Jerell Norton's cornerback spot. Kevin Woods is a top candidate to replace Grant at safety.
Grant has already bounced back from last year's torn anterior cruciate ligament, so a position change isn't likely to faze him.
``I played corner when I first got here,'' the senior said, ``so it's not really that big an adjustment.''
HONORS: Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson was the SEC offensive player of the week after going 30-for-44 for 275 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in Kentucky's 40-34 win against Louisville.
Woodson broke the SEC record for consecutive passes without an interception at 257.
Mississippi State defensive back Derek Pegues was defensive player of the week. He had five total tackles, an interception he returned for a touchdown and a pass deflection in Mississippi State's 19-14 win at Auburn.
Brandon James was the special teams player of the week after he had 159 return yards in Florida's 59-20 win over Tennessee. He opened the scoring against the Vols with a career-long 83-yard punt return.