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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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College football: Florida 14-Georgia 10
Tensions to lessen at Meyer household
By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published October 30, 2005
JACKSONVILLE - It has been a stressful time at the home of Urban Meyer after the Gators lost two of their past three, but Friday night, Shelley Meyer sensed something was different.
"He was feeling very positive, really upbeat and really excited," the coach's wife said. "This is huge, Florida-Georgia. We're new here, but we're figuring it out real quick."
With No.16 Florida's 14-10 win over No.4 Georgia, things might loosen up at the Meyer house.
"I think it takes more than a little bit of pressure off," Shelley Meyer said. "We're really happy right now, and we're going to enjoy this for several hours."
Shelley Meyer said despite the Gators' troubles, fans around Gainesville have been very supportive.
"Nobody has said anything to my face," she said.
After losses to Alabama and LSU, the staff buckled down, she said.
"They were just working really hard just trying to fine-tune some things so that the players could come out and be successful in this game," she said. "He came home, but it was really late. They were working so hard."
And which of the losses did Meyer take harder? "I can't even measure because he takes losses so hard anyway," she said. "We haven't lost in a long time, so both of those losses were real hurtful to all of us."
Meyer became the only Florida coach to defeat two teams ranked No.4 or higher in the same season (Tennessee and Georgia).
NELSON'S NEW ROLE: Since preseason practice began, the Florida coaching staff has raved about Reggie Nelson. Meyer called him arguably the best all-around player he has ever seen and said the Gators needed to find a way to get him on the field in a more prominent role.
Saturday, Nelson made his first start, replacing struggling cornerback Kyle Jackson. Nelson, who has played seven games at safety this season, entered the game with a team-leading four sacks (third in the SEC). He finished with five tackles and an interception.
INJURY UPDATES: Florida's already depleted receiving corps took another hit, but it appears this one won't have season-long repercussions. Junior Dallas Baker sprained his right ankle with 8:09 left in the second quarter. He left on crutches but returned in a limited capacity late in the game.
Linebacker Earl Everett sustained a thigh bruise and was replaced by Brian Crum. Safety Jarvis Herring also has a bruised thigh. Their status is unknown.
WILBUR'S BIG PLAY: He hasn't made moves like that since his senior year in high school, but when Meyer called for a fake punt on fourth and 2 from the Florida 39 late in the third quarter, Eric Wilbur delivered with a 20-yard run. "As the play unfolded, I was just trying to get 2 yards. But then I saw things opening up, and I just kept running," he said. "I was excited. I was nervous. I was everything. It felt kind of like an out-of-body thing."
CLOTHES CHANGE: So you thought the uniforms looked a little odd? It wasn't your television. The uniforms the Gators wore were part of a one-time agreement to promote Nike's Pro "Tri-bolt," worn under the shoulder pads for extra ventilation.
The jersey had one orange sleeve instead of both being blue. The Gators were one of only four schools nationally selected to participate in the promotion.