Ack's Insights

In this week's Ack's Insights, I preview Florida's NCAA First Round Game versus Sam Houston, talk about spring football and Gator baseball.

Spring practice began and as expected there will be some experiments at certain positions. I like the move of Travis Harris to defensive end and it may work out. The biggest adjustment for him will be lining up with his hand on the ground. He has struggled in the past with the mental aspect of the game and by moving to end it limits his responsibilities and gives him the opportunity to use his athletic ability to go after the football. Todd McCollough moved to middle linebacker day one and gives Charlie Strong the same formula that Bam Hardman did which is toughness, experience and great football knowledge. Tauren Charles has more upside but the decision on him remains with Ron Zook. In Dallas Baker, Florida has a "Fred Gibson" like player with tremendous ability. I believe he is going to be special. Keiwan Ratliff has the ability to give UF some R.A.C.(run after the catch) from the receiver position and I think at the end of the spring he will be a bona fide two-way player. UF worked on a lot of one back formations and quickly put the option in with the new quarterbacks. This will give the new and inexperienced defense fits in scrimmages. With a lot of man coverage in the secondary, defensive backs coach Mike Woodford is wasting no time in evaluating his young cornerbacks. Man will cause some confusion for the young linebackers as they learn to communicate.

The Gators lost 2 of 3 against LSU this past weekend and ended up with a tie on Sunday. The SEC has a rule in place stating no game will start an inning on Sunday's past a cetain time. Florida rallied for 3 runs in the eighth to get the tie. The rule is to protect the student athletes in getting to class on Monday. CJ Smith who has been one of UF's hottest hitters got the collar on Sunday going 0-4. The Gators picked up a 24-8 win over Columbia on Tuesday. Christian Madsen made his case for being the number three starter by going 5.1 innings for the victory. The Gators improved to 9-2 in weekday non-conference games. UF will play Army Wednesday and then conference foe Alabama this weekend at home. UF has scored more than 20 runs three times this season. The bullpen must perform better this weekend. After the set with the Crimson Tide, the Gators won't play again till next weekend at home versus Tennessee. Brett Dowdy leads the team with a .415 average and a .500 on base percentage. Florida has yet to score in the ninth inning this year and their best innings have been the first, fourth and sixth.

Sam Houston State is from the Southland Conference and is the eighth different representative in eight years from the league. It is known as a "Juco"League. The BearKats play a lot of players and have the conference player of the year in Donald Cole a 6'8 swingman who averages 17.6ppg and can shoot the three. Eddy Fobbs is a 6'11" center off the bench who had 75 blocks on the season and can really disrupt things in the paint. Sam Houston finished 18-3 in their conference and had an RPI of 103. They have "quality" losses to Arkansas and TCU. The Bearkats average 73 ppg and finished undefeated at home 15-0. No Southland team has won an NCAA game since Louisana Tech in 1985. Florida is looking to get back to the sweet 16 for the first time since 2000. Anthony Roberson will be the key for a deep run by UF. In Florida's six regular season losses he shot 27% from the field and he was 3 of 12 against LSU. Since becoming a starter late in the season Roberson had only one game with 3 three pointers and they were all in the first half at Georgia. With a win Friday night the Gators could face Michigan St or Colorado on Sunday. Florida enters the game as an 18 and a half point favorite, the fifth biggest spread in the first round of the tournament.

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