Florida’s Meyer had hand in Appalachian success

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BOONE, N.C. (AP) - Jerry Moore was struggling at Appalachian State in 2003 and concerned his job was in jeopardy when the football junkie kept watching Utah pile up points late at night on Saturdays with this spread offense perfected by Urban Meyer.

Moore, in his mid 60s and firmly entrenched with the I-formation from his time working under Tom Osborne, decided to make a dramatic change.

Seven years later, after three national championships, a monumental upset of Michigan and six straight Southern Conference titles, Moore’s Mountaineers (9-1) are ranked No. 2 in both Football Championship Subdivision polls and an offensive juggernaut.

Meyer will get a close look at Moore’s creation on Saturday when his struggling Florida Gators (6-4) host the dangerous Mountaineers.

“I’m proud of him,” Meyer said. “He’s a heck of a football coach.”

Moore and Meyer have become friends, but Moore chuckled this week when he thought back to when he decided to embrace a foreign offense of no-huddle, shotgun snaps, multiple receivers and mobile quarterbacks.

“My whole background was I-formation. We were always under the center,” Moore said. “When I saw what they were doing, it was a great combination for what I liked as far as running the ball and throwing the ball.”

A FCS school with a much smaller budget than the big boys, Moore didn’t have the money to travel to Salt Lake City to talk to Meyer. He also was hesitant to ask him anyway.

“It wasn’t Urban so much early as his assistants. They would share stuff with us,” Moore said. “We didn’t think about asking the head coach. He’s busy doing other stuff.”

Moore also went to West Virginia to talk to then-coach Rich Rodriguez’s staff about the offense. After only modest success in his first year using it in 2004 _ 6-5 with no playoff berth and no ensuing contract extension _ Moore finally ran into Meyer at an offseason banquet.

“I thought, ‘Moore and Meyer, I may be sitting next to Urban,’” Moore said. “Next thing you know I walk in and there he is.

“I said, ‘I know everybody asks you about (quarterback Alex) Smith, but I want to know about your right guard. Urban kind of smiled and I knew I may have hit a key note right there with him.”

Meyer was soon on his way to Florida, a much easier place for Moore and his staff to visit.

“When he went to Florida I said, ‘Oh man, this is perfect,’” Moore said. “I’ve been down there the three previous years. I think our relationship has grown pretty significantly. We were together at the ESPY awards.”

And soon Moore’s offense starting clicking in ways he never could have imagined.

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