The recent story of Maurice Mitchell and Jon Colon being dismissed from the team is not from any problems with the law, yet a decision to see if these guys really want to be a part of the team. They are both decent guys with ability and talent yet they want to walk to a different beat. Coach Ron Zook privately told them they are off the team for numerous incidents and must prove there worth to the Florida program. The ball is now in the court of both players. In the past, before computers, this could be something done over the summer to challenge your players to respond to your discipline. If they fail you make a pre-camp announcement and all is dealt with then. But now with the evolution of the Internet, this particular story leaked out from the inside and now has been grabbed by the media. I think Ron Zook wants to see Mo Mitchell succeed and really likes both guys but has decided to get away from the possible bad PR by making the guys deal with some serious obligations to get back on the team. I think it will be tough for these guys to all of a sudden see the light and, in my opinion, they won't be back with the team. But only time will tell with these guys and to put it into focus after spring practice: Mo Mitchell is a converted backup defensive tackle while Jon Colon is suffering from a back injury and rehab has fallen to third on the depth chart behind Lance Butler and Randy Hand. Once again, I think the reason that there is not a formal release from Zook is that he is giving the kids the opportunity to make amends. Time will tell if they deliver.
The passing drills are on going three times a week and some guys can quietly shine during the summer and make a name for themselves in the fall. Jabar Gaffney is the first guy to come to mind as someone down the chart that emerged with a great summer. The word is that Dallas Baker is really working on his route running and Jemalle Cornelius is becoming impossible to cover. Daryl Dixon who had a tremendous spring is also developing his skills to become a "cover safety". This is a guy who must have a nose for the football, can cover tight ends and fourth wideouts, as well as rob the middle of the field in coverage. Dixon has put together all his experience with a healthy body and is my early pick for surprise player in the SEC.
One reason UF had trouble throwing over the middle of the field was the fact that Rex at 6'0" struggled seeing over the tallest line in UF history. This was especially hard on reads that were outside in. Unlike Spurrier's pre-snap read throw the ball on time system, Zaunbreaker's system is more of a scanning the field system. This is a more popular and widely used form of simplifying a quarterbacks read progression at the college level. With all this in mind it may bode well for Ingle Martin at 6'2" at quarterback, that he has a three inch advantage over Gavin Dickey. And they say height only matters in basketball! For the record Chris Leak is 6'1" and Justin Midgett is 6'3".
Snippetts and Tidbits:
Good news continues to come to my desk on the possible outcome of the Steven Harris-Channing Crowder situation. It is in the hands of the Judicial system, but all indications are that it will be handled without severe ramifications. To the credit of both kids they have towed the line and stayed low key during the situation. There is a stockpile of young talented running backs for new coach Mike Locksley with DeShawn Wynn, Ciatrick Fason and Jimtavis Walker to go with Ran Carthon. Coach Locks has taken the stance with the kids if you cannot go, we will put someone else in there for you. Locksley, who was a great recruter at Maryland, had once signed 18 of the 22 starters on the Terrapin Depth Chart. With recruiting wrapping up in May, UF continued to get to every high school in the state of Florida. Defensive Backs coach Mike Woodford, who handles tough turf in Tallahassee and the Panhandle, hit all 52 schools during the recruiting season. Not bad but just a little shy of the projected Zook number of 70+. The more I am hearing the more it is likely the Miami game could be at 8pm in the Orange Bowl. Zook's philosophy is to get the best players and be simple and put them in a position to win. Well look no further than Miami for a measuring stick. The Canes, who along with Texas, have the best talent 1-22 in the country. Miami ran there "Canes 83" package 54 snaps versus Ohio St. in the National Title game. This is there 4-3 cover 4 with the pressed corners and did a great job against the Buckeyes. The point to this information is with good players you can be simple and this defense was the same one Miami ran in 1998 when Bill Miller was the defensive coordinator. That year, he was fired and young players like Ed Reed, Mike Rumph, Nate Webster and Dan Morgan were the building blocks for the National Championship season. They got bigger faster and smarter and UF's defense this year could mirror that one in South Florida in '98. By the way Miami stunned UCLA in that final game knocking the Bruins from the national title chance.
Finally, baseball proved it belonged in the NCAA Regional extending the Canes to the final game and losing for the second consecutive year. Florida could not sweep a pair of doubleheaders on the weekend against FAU, Bethune Cookman and then Sunday against Miami. UF used 8 different pitchers in the two championship games and would bat .374 with 58 runs total in the regional. One consolation for Gators fans was the 15-5 win in game one Sunday. It ended the Canes home NCAA winning streak and was the worst postseason loss in school history for the Canes. The Gators hope to return to the NCAA's next season and get a third crack at Miami.