Seven THINGS to Look for Saturday

As much as any of you, I am anxious to see what this Gator football squad looks like this spring. With that in mind, there are several things I will be looking for Saturday when the Gators face the Gators in the Orange and Blue Debut. Will Muschamp said it will be first team vs. first team and second team vs. second team scrimmage, so we should get a pretty good show.

Like all of you I will be looking at everything. Not only how some of the guys look physically that we haven't been able to see at interviews, but the snap of the ball, the alignment of the defense, the route combinations, etc. I will be more wide eyed on Saturday than I have been at a spring exhibition in a long time.

Larry is talking about individuals on both sides of the ball, but I will be also very interested in some schematic changes as well as how some of these guys fit within these schemes.

Play of Quarterbacks

All eyes will be on the quarterbacks and rather than look at how John Brantley is throwing and hoping he is doing that better than a year ago, I want to see how the quarterbacks are utilized. We have heard tidbits of Jordan Reed in the wildcat, and that they will show some option, but just how different is this animal going to be. Sources tell me that they will actually be in shotgun formation a lot more than expected, so that is something to see. Also, will these dual threat quarterbacks look comfortable in more of a pro-style offense? All of this is very intriguing for sure.

The BUCK Position

We know that Ronald Powell is going to be the lead man at the BUCK, but what exactly is this position going to entail. I picture a guy that will line up in a three point stance and then all of a sudden with a play change, drops back as an outside linebacker and in a stand-up position, or vice versa. This should be the equivalent to the FOX end position with a lot more variety involved in the sense that the BUCK will spend more tie standing up. Also, which guys will play the position is another thing to watch. We know of Powell, and Lerentee McCray, in the last week we have heard of Chris Martin also playing linebacker and I would actually assume he was getting reps at the BUCK. This will be a fun part of the defense to watch.

The Offensive Line

Will they mix and match and play different positions. Will Muschamp has already talked about putting the best 8-9 guys out there and letting them play, intimating that they will learn different positions as they go. How will this group of linemen make the change from a more zone style of blocking to a lot more power blocking? Who is going to be that guy at center and when in shotgun are we going to have to worry about the snaps with yet another new center?

The 3-4 and 4-3 Defensive Fronts

People insist on saying that the Gators will be a 3-4 front team as a whole, and I still hear that this is a 4-3 team with more 3-4 than we are used to seeing. This kind of goes back to the BUCK position, but generally the two schemes as used by Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn are going to be used to confuse offenses and force them to play out of their element and change running lanes and pass defense blocking assignments. The key is to be able to keep the same personnel on the field and switch up the defense as you go.

The Tight Ends

We haven't really had a pure tight end around these parts in several years, but we will start seeing them. How are they going to be utilized this year with the specific talent on the roster? That is the big question. Jordan Reed can be 255 pounds after two big meals, but is his make up as a football player going to allow him to block off the edge at the line of scrimmage? Is Mike McFarland big enough and a good enough pass catcher to be that edge guy and catch some passes? This is a big position to fill to have the running game like the staff will want when the season starts.

Route Combinations and the Receivers

The receivers are going to be a little more in tune with what is going on in my opinion and one main reason is they will be asked to block a lot less. The Gators won't be an option team per se, even though we will likely see a little bit, and this allows the receivers to be, well, receivers. But, how will this play out? They are now going to be asked to run combination routes that will play off of each other and allow the quarterbacks to read the defense and make throws before the receivers make cuts. They will still be asked to block for sure, but timing and precise depths before cutting will be the norm. A slight mistake in a route could be very costly. Is a guy like Quinton Dunbar, who has supposedly been a mainstay this spring going to be able to jump right in and do this. Are the old guys going to be able to handle the change? My guess is yes, simply because they are going to enjoy it more.

Utilization of the Big Back/Trey Burton

I really should call Trey Burton a big back, but he will be utilized as one until they get one on campus. With that in mind, we know Burton can be downright explosive with the ball and I have always wanted him to get a shot at playing running back. With injuries galore at the position, he will get his turn on Saturday, Maybe this will be a glimpse of what they want to do down the road when a Matt Jones shows up on campus. Burton runs in the 235-240 range, so he has plenty of size.

Will Burton's ability to play multiple positions open the staff's eyes to someone else doing the same, say an AC Leonard. Like the defense and the 4-3/3-4 looks, the offense confuses defenses by being multiple with its looks. That is the Charlie Weis plan for success. I expect to see a lot of it.

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