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Loss to LSU fueled changes

By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published October 3, 2006


GAINESVILLE - It was one of the most painful football losses of last season, the one that brought some players and coaches to tears, but in retrospect it may have been one of the most important things that happened to the Gators.

The 21-17 loss at LSU forced coach Urban Meyer to rethink the way he was running his then-injury depleted, struggling offense.

Immediately.

Meyer went home after the game, summoned some assistants to his house about 2 a.m. and began to revamp everything.

"I started grabbing things and drawing - napkins, paper, whatever I could find," Meyer said. "We never ran some of those sets. I remember calling and saying, 'Get over to my house.' We sat there on the back with the fan going; it was a late one. We started drawing plays. We put in a counter, we put in a stretch, we put in a bunch of plays we had not run. We had run them before not at UF. ... That's why we started changing things."

When Meyer was hired, his unique spread offense was all the rage, but he said the current Gators offense isn't the same.

"I'd say our offense is a little more like Bowling Green right now than Utah," he said. "We have a single wing-style play. We have much more playmakers here, but we ran our quarterback a bunch, I-formation play with the quarterback."

WITH WYNN OR WITHOUT? Senior tailback DeShawn Wynn has a sprained right knee and is questionable when No. 5 Florida (5-0, 3-0 SEC) hosts No. 9 LSU (4-1, 1-1) for homecoming Saturday, but there remains a chance Wynn could play.

"It was very sore (Sunday) night, but one good thing is treatment will help it," Meyer said Monday afternoon. "With some injuries, like a high ankle sprain, treatment doesn't really help it. Treatment will help this. It'll be a pain injury from what I understand. I'll know more as we get closer. We need DeShawn Wynn to play very well for us."

The problem is, Wynn won't be 100 percent. That's why his teammates are hoping for the best, but preparing for the reality they'll have to face one of the nation's toughest defenses without Wynn.

Wynn's injury means backup Kestahn Moore's opportunity has arrived.

"This will be my week," said Moore, who is the team's third-leading rusher with 160 yards in five games. "I'm coming out there to play. I want to show Coach Meyer that if D-Wynn is down, if anybody is down, I'm going to be here for the team."

Moore, who finished strong last season, said he expected to come out and take a more prominent role early this season. Although that hasn't happened, he hopes his teammates realize he's ready to carry the load.

"I come out to play hard," he said. "Every time I run the ball, I run hard. If I'm blocking, I'm doing it hard. I do everything hard. So if that's case, I can do it."

OOPS: Think you were surprised when center Steve Rissler's snap sent the ball sailing on quarterback Chris Leak with the botched snap Saturday against Alabama? Imagine how Rissler felt.

"Oh, yeah, of course I was (stunned)," Rissler said. "I snapped it, then here comes the ball rolling up by my feet. I went to dive on it and somebody had already grabbed it. I wasn't expecting it at all, and I don't think any of the line was either. So it was just bad fortune. It should never happen again."

Rissler said a running back didn't go into motion at the right time and when Leak yelled something at him, it threw Rissler.

"He should have motioned him with just a signal and not necessarily yelling something," the center said. "So when I heard him yell something, I snapped it. It was just miscommunication."

 

Antonya English covers Florida athletics. She can be reached at (813) 226-3389 or english@sptimes.com.