By ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times Staff Writer
Published October 9, 2005
GAINESVILLE - Urban Meyer isn't fond of letting NFL players talk to his team. He doesn't want the bravado that flourishes in the NFL to permeate his players' minds.
But Saturday morning, his gut instinct was to let former Gator and Dallas Cowboys star Emmitt Smith address the team during breakfast.
Smith didn't disappoint.
"Something told me in my heart that Emmitt Smith was going to deliver a very good message," Meyer said. "He gave as good a speech to our team as I've ever heard. The whole thing was take care of your boys. And he talked about he could not come out of the game because he would let Michael Irvin and Troy Aikman down.
"When you start throwing out names like that and you start talking about Super Bowls, everybody puts their fork down and you get complete attention. It was a strong, strong moment; as strong as I've ever been a part of."
Smith, the grand marshal of Friday's homecoming parade, made an impression on the players as well.
"Emmitt was very motivational because he talked about accountability, being a family and the closer you get the better the team gets," defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. "That's what I feel like we're becoming. Everybody took it to heart. You can tell by the way we played. Everybody came to play."
INJURY WOES: Quarterback Chris Leak and running back DeShawn Wynn did not practice last week because of shoulder injuries, and Leak reinjured his right one and left the game with 3:43 left in the first quarter. He returned 1:32 into the second quarter. In his absence, freshman Josh Portis was 3-of-5 for 45 yards and one interception and five carries for 41 yards.
Leak said the lack of practice caused him to struggle with his rhythm, but he downplayed the significance of his injury.
"It aggravates you, but it's nothing more than a bruise," he said. "Over time, it's going to heal."
Wynn had five carries for 24 yards and one touchdown. Markus Manson had seven carries for 45 yards, and Kestahn Moore had eight for 23.
"We're still tailback by committee," said Meyer, who had hoped not to play Wynn. "That hasn't changed."
MULLEN ON THE MOVE: After spending the first four games on the sideline, offensive coordinator Dan Mullen moved upstairs to the booth as part of the Gators' continuing efforts to get more out of their offense.
"When Danny first became coordinator, it was at the Fiesta Bowl and I felt with (former Utah quarterback Alex Smith), he needed to be down there," Meyer said. "I tend to be a lunatic down there, so quarterbacks don't look to me very often. But I felt like we weren't getting the job done, so we needed to move him upstairs. Coordinators need to have all their stuff in front of them, so we're going to keep him up there for awhile."
WILBUR'S BIG DAY: Punter Eric Wilbur had knee surgery during the preseason and struggled early but seems to be hitting his stride. He had six punts for 284 yards, a 47.3 average, including two downed at the 1.