Ack's Insights - 3/26/03

In this week's edition: Spring Football discussion, baseball notes and a final look at the Gators basketball loss to Michigan State.

The Gators are into the second week of practice and the depth chart is ever changing. The obvious strengths of the team are offensive line, running back and both safety positions. Those positions are deep with talent and big play ability. The competition has been very intense with it surely to go up a notch in the fall.

The quarterback battle has been very good with Ingle Martin holding the number one spot (Zook has not officially named a number one-and may not). The one thing Ingle is doing better than the other two guys is getting rid of the ball quickly. He is finding the underneath stuff as guys come out of their breaks which gives them a chance to make something happen after the catch. A lot of time young quarterbacks will hold it too long and by the time the catch is made the defender recovers and tackles on the spot. All three have had their moments with Dickey a close second. Look for the offense to go more up tempo in the next scrimmage and see if they don't take some shots over the top.

Deshawn Wynn is really coming on and is showing great work ethic. Ciatrick Fason has done a better job of catching the ball out of the backfield. Willie Green has gotten healthier and runs well between the tackles.

Ben Troupe is getting a lot of work as the offense has really concentrated on it's intermediate passing game working the middle of the field. Don't worry Gator Fans this is the first step to opening the passing game down the field. You must hold the linebackers and safeties if you are going go over the top! 

On the offensive line Joe Wickline has finally gotten some quality depth and even a few surprises. Billy Griffin is a very good right guard who is starting this week and surely will see some time along with Mo Mitchell. Guerroro and Washington are coming along as backups but maybe the biggest surprise is the continued development of Lance Butler at right tackle. If he has found a home, UF has plenty of depth especially since Jon Colon is not going through spring drills. Butler has improved his run blocking and seems more confident and fierce. The run blocking has been very good as a unit. 

Switching to defense, Ron Dowdy is the starter at nose tackle in the rotation with Kenny Parker. Sly McGrew was the most recent "3" technique and Holcombe is in the mix as well. Marcus Thomas will definitely play this fall. Travis Harris is coming along nicely at defensive end and really loves coming down the line on plays away from him. 

Safety has Guss Scott, Daryl Dixon, Cory Bailey and Jarvis Herring. This is an impressive unit which takes turns making plays in the secondary. Bailey is the nickel linebacker in coverage as he was a year ago and would start at any other SEC school but is behind Guss. 

As for the other positions Linebacker has the least depth with Taurean Charles out and Travis Harris moving to defensive end. Channing Crowder is starting to shine in the middle and Brian Crum outside. (By the way, they both make my All-Uniform Team-They look good on the hoof!)

The UF baseball team took 2 of 3 from Alabama at home this past weekend. Justin Hoyman was named SEC Pitcher of the Week for his Saturday performance. The Sophomore transfer is now 4-1 with a 2.57 era. Opposing batters are only hitting .196 against him. Adam Sanabria got the Friday start with Christian Madsen getting the nod Sunday. Pat McMahon is really trying to find a game one starter to get UF off to a fast start. Sunday is going to continue to be a committee effort until someone emerges. CJ Smith continues to lead UF with 9 homerun while Brett Dowdy is hitting .405. Dowdy leads the team with 15 multi hit games, while senior Ben Harrison has 14. CJ Smith does have a 13 game hitting streak while Jonathen Tucker has an 11 game streak to go with his 10 stolen bases. Mario Garza has had the most multi RBI games with 11 followed by Ben Harrison with 10. Pat McMahon has used 7 different starting pitchers this season. The team has gone 6-1 when Justin Hoyman starts. The Gators are currently 19-6-1 (2-3-1) and 19-2 at home. This weekend they host East rival Tennessee for a three game set beginning Friday.

The season came to a halt Sunday with a 68-46 loss to Michigan St. in the second round of the NCAA tournament. UF was really worn out by the Spartan offense in the first half of the game. Michigan St extended every first half (half court) possession to the last 10 seconds of the shot clock. Combine that with 70% shooting and 9 free throw attempts and UF became impatient on offense. The way to play Florida's perimeter game in man to man is to go under the high pick and roll and bait the shooter into taking three pointers. This worked as UF shot poorly and failed to drive and penetrate. The press - which should have worked - backfired into easy baskets for the Spartans. UF was not a very good pressing team and developed into an adequate zone team. This was an offensive team whose shots did not go in and conversely lost it's fight in the second half. Billy must deal with another early exit from the tournament but did accomplish a lot this season. A number one ranking, 25 wins, 12 conference wins, 5 wins over ranked opponents and W's over Sweet 16 teams - Auburn, Kansas and Maryland. UF must find an inside guy - possibly Alex Johnson, the 6'10" forward who signed with Georgia and is now at a prep school in Maine. The Gators must also keep David Lee and Christi

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