October 22, 2009 8:46:00 AM
University of Florida head football coach Urban Meyer can tell when his players, assistant coaches and support staff are feeling the pressure.
When a program has won two out of the last three national championships and has been highly ranked over that span, it''s only natural to have an overwhelming desire to hold on to that standing.
That''s the challenge No. 2 Florida (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) has once again as the Gators travel to play Mississippi State at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN).
Whether it be ball security, a defensive player getting out of position, or a quarterback, even one like Tim Tebow, missing a read, Meyer can sense when his squad starts to press.
Meyer admits that living up to expectations creates some tense moments in the office and on the field, but he tries his best to keep everything in perspective.
"One of my jobs and I try to preach it to them constantly that you don''t have to be perfect, but just the better team on the field that day," Meyer said. "That''s what''s great about where we''re at. I''ve been at places before where the expectation was to get a first down and don''t worry about leading the SEC in offense. We were concerned about just trying to move the ball."
That''s something Florida''s defense saw Arkansas do.
In a 23-20 victory against the Razorbacks, the Gators gave up a season high in points (23), rushing yards (133) and total offense (357).
Meyer said his defense took the lack of performance personally, but he tried to encourage his unit.
"The defense was crushed after that game, but I didn''t see it that way," Meyer said. "I saw a very good Arkansas offensive team that beat a very good Auburn team in this conference with very good personnel."
Even with that outing, Florida ranks first in the country in total defense (228.3 ypg) and scoring defense (8.7 ppg).