Urban Meyer could feel himself holding back Wednesday. His punt block team crouched, ready to pounce. Before, Meyer would have stationed himself on the line with his rushers. Shoot. Before all that mess in December, he would have tried to block the damn punt himself.
Wednesday, Meyer remained at a distance. He let linebackers coach D.J. Durkin, Florida's new special teams coordinator, handle the heavy coaching in that drill. That Durkin holds that particular title is a sign that Meyer has made at least a few changes since a health scare caused him to quit Dec. 26, then return on the condition that he take a leave of absence. In his nine previous seasons as a head coach, Meyer's special teams coordinator was Urban Meyer.
On the day that Meyer's former quarterback introduced his revised throwing mechanics, Meyer introduced his revised coaching mechanics. Everyone wondered Wednesday morning whether Tim Tebow will maintain his new release under pressure. Everyone wondered Wednesday afternoon whether Meyer will maintain his new ability to delegate under pressure.
One spring practice in, he seemed relaxed. "Don't ask me," Meyer cracked when someone asked how quarterback John Brantley looked in his first practice as the Gators' starter. Then Meyer smiled and laughed. He did that a lot Wednesday. He looked nothing like the shadow of himself who quit for about 18 hours in December. He had bulked up to a healthy weight. His eyes flickered as he talked about the challenge of replacing the stars who had worked out for NFL scouts earlier in the day. Three months ago, his eyes just looked tired.
How much fun is it going to be to see the rest of the SEC squirm in their seats when they realize that Johnny B isn't going to fill Tim Tebow's shoes but is going to light up the field instead?
Let the Brantley era begin! Go Gators!