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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

After UF's heartbreaking loss to Auburn on Saturday, something had to change.

In an intense, impromptu team meeting, UF coach Urban Meyer set the record straight Monday morning.

Simply put, no more Mr. Nice Guy.

BYou can kind of say he?s a lot more strict now in everything he?s doing,C said senior strong safety Tony Joiner on Monday, less than 24 hours before he was arrested on burglary charges. BHe?s not playing around anymore.C

Joiner elaborated, saying Meyer reverted back to his tough-guy attitude.

He?s back to being a disciplinarian and a detail-oriented coach.

No more turning the cheek when players miss a class or two, or in practice when players take a few plays off.

Meyer?s challenge is to fix mistakes, including his own, regroup his young team and come to play Saturday in the backyard of the No. 1 team in the country, LSU.

BEvery human being is measured when they get hit,C Meyer said about the 20-17 last-second loss to Auburn, Meyer?s first home loss at UF. BWe got hit square. That was a frontal, frontal shot at home.C

After losses, Meyer speaks softer and in shorter sentences.

Reporters inch closer to him to hear his answers.

Players reflect his attitude.

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BWe all feel the same way he does,C defensive tackle Clint McMillan said. BIt feels like you got stabbed in the gut after you lose a game like that in the last seconds.C

The scene Saturday featured Auburn freshman kicker Wes Byrum, a Florida native, burying the Gators with a 43-yard field goal as time expired.

Byrum ran around doing a Gator chomp while the Gators hung their heads or stared into space.

Meyer remembered other special teams lapses, a thoughtless roughing-the-kicker penalty, a missed field goal by Joey Ijjas and a fake punt for a first down brought back by a pre-snap penalty.

Since he coaches the special teams, Meyer blamed himself for the loss.

BYou don?t get angry at players, you coach players,C Meyer said. BSo I?m angry at myself and angry at our staff. … We?ve got to finish the job.C

He took the fall for freshman punter Chas Henry failing to line up on the line of scrimmage on the fake and Jamar Hornsby running into the punter.

The good news is all of that is correctable.

BWe?re not putting our caps on backwards for rally caps or turning them inside out,C Meyer said. BWe have to get better.C

Judging by history, they probably will improve - and quickly.

Meyer?s impeccable record in more than six years of coaching includes a 10-1 mark in games after losses.

That gives No. 9 UF (4-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) the confidence needed to trust Meyer?s change in tactics.

BGuys can look at him and see someone who handles losing, handles adversity really well,C sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow said.

Meyer has not lost two in a row since 2002 at Bowling Green, and he has never lost three straight.

But this is top-ranked LSU, a team bent for revenge to make up for losing in Gainesville last year.

The last time the Gators traveled to Baton Rouge, a 21-17 loss in 2005, Meyer left wiping away tears after a heart-tugging postgame press conference.

BIt was emotional for all of us,C Joiner said. BIt meant a lot to see our coach actually show emotion about a game we lost, the same emotion we showed. … It kind of helped us, knowing that he?s in it with us.C

Meyer had the luxury of bye weeks following his last three losses at UF.

After the Auburn loss in 2006, the Gators regrouped to defeat Georgia.

The same thing happened in 2005, when the Gators topped the Bulldogs after the LSU loss.

Later that year, Meyer and the Gators dominated Florida State 34-7 after getting upset by Steve Spurrier?s South Carolina Gamecocks.

Can the Gators do it again?Having Meyer at the helm certainly gives them a chance.

BWe?re going to do what?s made Coach Meyer?s program great in the past,C Tebow said. BThat?s outworking teams.C

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