HOOVER, Ala. – Tim Tebow decided not to make the move to the NFL following his junior season.
Now, the Florida quarterback might be moved up under center on occasion in his final year of college football. Such a decision will be based on two factors, coach Urban Meyer said Thursday at the Southeastern Conference football media days.
“A lot of it depends on the quality of our tailback,” Meyer said. “To play an under center offense, you better have a monster back there at tailback who can take the pounding involved in that style of offense. … If (our tailbacks) develop, and it helps us win a game, we'll do that.”
Meyer is a practitioner of the spread offense, and Tebow has run it proficiently enough to set numerous school and NCAA records and to win the Heisman Trophy following his sophomore season.
The Gators’ reliance on that approach has created doubt about Tebow’s prospects for success in the NFL, where the majority of snaps take place with the quarterback under center.
“I assure you, him playing under center has nothing to do with his draft status with the programs we talked to,” Meyer said. “If it did, we would help him because he earned that. It's not that different.
“If we feel that can help us win which it did in '(the) 06 national championship game against Ohio State – at least one third of our players were under center. Why? Because we felt in that game that could help us win the game. That's the way we game plan.”
Saban singles out former lineman for Sugar Bowl disappointment
Alabama coach Nick Saban stressed character and commitment as critical components of a winning program.
To make his point, he talked about the impact of former tackle Andre Smith, the 2008 Outland Trophy winner who was suspended for the Sugar Bowl.
“We don't have one individual on our team that can make our team great,” Saban said. “But we do have one individual, any one individual, who could destroy the team chemistry, destroy all these things that we're talking about by being a blinking light and making bad choices and decisions about what they do.
“We had an example of that last year, even in our Bowl game. So you saw what kind of team we had for 13 weeks, and then what kind of team we have for the 14th game that we played.”
The Crimson Tide lost that game 31-17 to the University of Utah. Smith left school with one remaining year of eligibility and was the sixth overall choice by Cincinnati in the NFL draft.
Saban has a 110-50-1 record as a college head coach, which includes a national championship with LSU. He guided Alabama to a 12-2 record and the SEC Western Division title last fall, his second in charge of the Crimson Tide.
“If you're going to win it all, you really have to have great competitive character and do it on a consistent basis, 'cause you have to line up and play every week and you cannot be up and down or you're not going to sustain it in our league,” he said.
NUTT WELCOMES EXPECTATIONS AT OLE MISS
Houston Nutt would not concede that some of his best Arkansas teams failed to live up to expectations. They broke down, he said.
“If you go back and look at the times we were picked high … we had some major injuries,” Nutt said “Not an excuse. That’s part of it, but it’s a blow.”
The issue was raised because Ole Miss, in its second season under Nutt, is considered a favorite to win the SEC Western Division this fall.
The Rebels were the only team to beat eventual national champion Florida in 2008. They also won their final six games capped by a victory over Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl.
“We’re excited to be in this position,” Nutt said. “We knew this would happen. There’s going to be some expectations, and you have to handle it.”
GEORGIA MIGHT BE BETTER MINUS TWO OFFENSIVE STARS
Georgia coach Mark Richt said the loss of two superstars on offense might help make the Bulldogs a better team in 2009.
When he addressed the print media Thursday at SEC football media days, Richt said his team might have expected too much last season from quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Knowshon Moreno.
“Everybody expected us to win it all because we had those guys who were stars, and maybe subconsciously our guys thought, ‘We can count on these guys,’” Richt said. “Now that they’re gone, I think our team understands the only chance they have is to play together, work together and earn it as a team.”
The Bulldogs went 10-3 in 2008, and Stafford and Moreno became first-round NFL draft picks. Stafford was the first overall choice.