No. 3 Florida learn from on-field chemistry lesson Print
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Friday, 21 November 2008 11:38
 GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -Having coached more than 20 years and having played a few more, Florida's Urban Meyer has experienced just a few teams with good chemistry.
As for the third-ranked Gators?
``The chemistry on this team borders on phenomenal,'' Meyer said. ``That's a true statement.''
It's one thing Meyer has pointed to repeatedly as the difference between last year's four-loss team and this year's group that already has clinched a spot in the Southeastern Conference title game and has a legitimate shot at playing for the national title.
Florida (9-1) probably needs only to win its three remaining games to earn a berth in the Bowl Championship Series title game in Miami. It starts Saturday against The Citadel (4-7), a Football Championship Subdivision team that has lost six of its last seven.
r most lopsided loss of the season.
``Getting a first down is going to be monumental,'' said Citadel coach Kevin Higgins, whose program has lost 19 in a row against teams from the Bowl Subdivision. ``They are rolling. They have some great players. We've got a great challenge.''
The Gators have won six in a row by an average of 50-11 and have outscored opponents 101-0 in the first quarter in those games. Talent and preparation have a lot to do with Florida's recent run, but Meyer believes chemistry has been an equally important factor.
No one's avoiding practice, complaining about playing time or pointing fingers when things don't go as planned on the field.
``It's unselfish play, guys caring about each other, guys that hang out together off the field, guys that have relentless effort and they're not going to fail,'' Meyer said. ``That's great chemistry. They're not going to let each other down.
``It's something you've not seen around here very often. I've been doing this a long time and I can pick only three or four teams off the top of my head that have had great chemistry.''
Usually those teams have senior leadership, guys who have experienced ups and downs and know what it takes to win big games, pull out close ones and avoid letdown.
n Phil Trautwein and Jason Watkins - have been regular starters this season.
Meyer's team has mostly juniors leading the way: quarterback Tim Tebow, receiver Percy Harvin, kick returner Brandon James and linebacker Brandon Spikes.
Tebow, Harvin and Spikes are expected to, at the very least, petition the NFL regarding their draft status. So could this be the Heisman Trophy winner's final game in Gainesville?
``I don't even think about it like that,'' Tebow said. ``The more I'm here, the longer I want to stay here. I love being a Gator. It's not even (something I'm thinking about).''
Meyer hopes not. After all, Tebow has been the main catalyst for Florida's chemistry change. Meyer said Tebow's energy and passion raise everyone's attitude around him - in meeting rooms, in the weight room, in the locker room, on the practice field and in games.
``The first thing you think about is you have to have character on your team,'' Meyer said. ``You can certainly build it. But there's no easy answer or everybody would build it.
``It's uncommon to have a team with great chemistry. I hear coaches say that (their team has great chemistry), and then I watch them play and I think, 'That coach is just babbling. There's not good chemistry on that team.'''
Meyer's team, though?
``It's one of the better ones I've been around,'' he said.
 

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