Gators' first drive has been going nowhere

By Times staff writers
Published October 7, 2005

GAINESVILLE - Although the season got off to a fast start, the Gators have had trouble starting each game. UF has been forced to punt on the first drive of each of its five games.

The Gators only have one first down on their first drive. That came against Kentucky Sept. 24, but was followed by a blocked punt.

"I think it's just a guy missing a block, a guy getting a penalty, a guy holding on a kickoff return," coach Urban Meyer said of the first-drive problems. "I don't think it's sluggish; I think it's a breakdown."

WHO CALLS THE SHOTS?: Meyer said the Gators script the first 11-12 plays. "Those are the plays that I always look down at, and so does (offensive coordinator Dan Mullen), to make sure that we're getting those plays called, because those are obviously the best plays, and you also want to see how they're going to play you," Meyer said.

He said Mullen makes the rest of the calls, but he has the final say.

"Most of the plays are done when the defense is on the field and we'll say, "What are we going to go with this series?' " Meyer said. "That's most of the time. Danny calls it, and I'll say, "Go with this. Go with this.' "

CALDWELL UPDATE: Andre Caldwell, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior from Tampa who is out for the year after breaking his right leg Sept. 17 against Tennessee, has lost 12 pounds. Junior defensive end Ray McDonald, who injured his right knee in the same game, is getting close to returning, Meyer said.

ETC: Center Mike Degory (ankle/knee) practiced at about 75 percent, but will be at about 90-95 for the game, Meyer said.

- IAN FISHER, Times correspondent

FSU: Think, think, think

TALLAHASSEE - Cornerback Tony Carter, 19, has not played like a freshman through the first four games, but he'll be tested again against the complex offense that Wake Forest will run Saturday.

"With this team you have to be on your assignment," Carter said. "They keep you on your thinking aspect a lot more than other teams do; a lot of crossing routes, a lot of tricky things. You just have to think a lot more out there."

Carter has 17 tackles, including four for losses, and a sack. His four passes defended lead the team.

"As a corner, (Wake Forest) will have a lot of trivial things like a hitch-and-go, maybe a slant-and-up; a lot of double moves," the Jacksonville native said. "They'll run you deep, then run a hurry-up offense. You'll be breathing heavy."

Sophomore Alex Boston will start in place of junior defensive end Darrell Burston, who injured his shoulder in the first half Saturday. Boston, who played in all 12 games last season, has three tackles and a half sack.

GUEST SPEAKERS: Former FSU All-Americans Clay Shiver and Brett Williams attended Thursday's light practice and spoke to the offensive line afterward.

- D.C. REEVES, Times correspondent