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September 7, 2010Florida center Mike Pouncey, the player most responsible for last week's snaps snafu against Miami of Ohio, is trying his best to look forward to Saturday's game against South Florida but he admitted Tuesday it hasn't been easy.
"I," Pouncey said, "haven't been able to sleep all week."
As has been well-documented, Pouncey had serious issues with his shotgun snaps in the Gators' uninspiring 34-12 win over the RedHawks. The Miami Herald counted 14 snaps that were off target. An analyst for ESPN said there were 13. Pouncey, though, claimed he had only three that were bad.
"I don't think it was 13," Pouncey said. "I rolled three back. [quarterback John Brantley] dropped a couple I don't know what game he was watching."
Whatever the actual number was, one thing is certain: The snaps trouble stunted the Florida offense all afternoon, and the Gators managed a paltry 212 yards.
"It sucked to be in those moments," Pouncey confessed.
Florida coach Urban Meyer said Monday Pouncey's technique was off at times, and added that condensation on the ball didn't help. He added that not every snap miscue was Pouncey's fault.
To help fix the problem, Pouncey said he has changed his grip. He's now holding the ball more toward the front of it to get a better hold.
"I'm trying to hold it a certain way that's comfortable for me," Pouncey said. "I'm holding it at the very top of the ball."
Pouncey began working on the switch Sunday morning with Brantley. So far, the change has worked in practice, he claimed.
That said, the standout senior (an All-American guard last season who slid over to center to replace his brother, Maurkice, who left school early for the NFL) supposedly never had any problems with his snaps in the past. The trouble only apparently surfaced last Saturday.
Pouncey, Florida's backup center in 2009, played some center in the Sugar Bowl win over Cincinnati and had "no issues," Gators offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Steve Addazio said. It also wasn't a problem in spring or preseason practice, Addazio added.
Basically, it just sort of popped up.
"He's one of the very best, if not the very best offensive lineman in college football," Addazio said. "No one has more focus on [correcting the problem] than Mike Pouncey."
In addition to the grip adjustment, more emphasis will now be placed on keeping Pouncey's hands dry, Addazio said.
According to Pouncey, his teammates have been supportive. "They know I'm going to get it right," he said.
Pouncey also received a pep talk from his brother, who's now with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was a first-round draft pick earlier this year.
"He told me when he first started at center two years ago, he did the same things," Pouncey said. "Not as bad, but [he had] high snaps that were everywhere."
His sleeping issues aside, Pouncey seems confident he has fixed the issue.
"I'm not worried about it, and I don't' think anybody else should be," he said.
But just in case, he has something else he plans to do he hopes will assist him Saturday.
"Pray before every snap," Pouncey said.