Ack's Insights

What will it take for Florida's new quarterback to be successful this season? I really break it down big time in this week's edition of Ack's Insights.

Over the last several weeks we have talked at great lengths about what it takes for incoming freshman to play and be major contributors right away. UF will jaunt 47 first timers out there for game one against San Jose State. So how many will play? Well, a lot of them will play and contribute but the one position that is guaranteed to have a first timer that will play a major impact on the outcome of the game is quarterback. Whether it's Ingle Martin, Gavin Dickey, Chris Leak or Justin Midgett the signal caller for the Gators will have no starting experience.

So how does the quarterback have success right away? Her are some solutions that the Gators may use to make life easier without Rex Grossman as the signal caller. First expect a lot of "combination routes". One of the toughest things to do is read coverages at the college level. In high school there is two maybe three coverages and never a disguise. In the SEC a lot of coordinators are really good at mixing up coverages, which makes it difficult for a young quarterback to make a decision. By having "combination routes" the quarterback will have different plays on each side of a formation. For example, one side may have a cover three play while the backside has a cover two route. The quarterback then would take his snap and as soon as he recognizes which coverage then read that side.

Secondly, defensive coordinators like to blitz young quarterbacks and make them throw quickly. To offset this Florida may free release it's running back into routes. What the running back is suppose to do is pass protect versus blitzers to maximum protect. By free releasing the back like Ran Carthon he will allow the blitzer to come and catch a short high percentage pass from the quarterback. The receivers are running the defensive backs down the field and the back should be able to take the short delay route and make big yards. (Zone blitzes defend this play well, but heck not everyone zone blitzes).

Thirdly and maybe the most simple tactic a coordinator will use to help a young quarterback out is to "formate" the defense and "motion" it's receivers. By moving the formation around and not staying in the same look the offensive coordinator can force defenses to declare who is the "hot" receiver. Motion can tell a young quarterback whether a defense is in man to man or zone based on the defender going with the receiver (man) or staying home when recognizing motion.

Finally, the most important way to help a young quarterback is to be able to run the ball effectively and move the chains. With a solid running game you can put the quarterback in high percentage down and distance situations. There will be young players as well at other positions such as wide receiver, defensive back and defensive line. Look for these players to get their feet wet on special teams and situational substitutions.

Snippetts and Tidbits
Todd McCollough and Reid Fleming have both bulked way up this summer. McCollough is closing in on 250. The freshman overall are showing great improvement and attitude during strength and conditioning. Joe Cohen looks like he is in great shape to contribute as a freshman. Justin Midgett seems to be going along with his business quietly and he is progressing with his understanding of the offense.

Basketball news - Brett Nelson will play overseas this fall and operate as the point guard for his team. Justin Hamilton is doing well in summer league with the Pistons but has not been able to consistently hit his outside shot. If the Miami Heat get the deal with Elton Brand done it may really put a blow to Udonis Haslem's chances of making the NBA this season.

One bright spot about the early season football schedule for UF is that 3 of the first 4 games are at home. As we saw in Baseball last season with Pat McMahon in his second year it can be quite beneficial to a young team. In football the crowd being behind you is a plus for inexperience, but dominant teams like the 95/96 Gators loved to go play on the road.

The Canes are week two and the heir apparent to Andre Johnson may be Devin Hester. He has been working out and throwing with the team although he has not been cleared to participate as of yet. The word is that he may end up better than Andre Johnson.

STAT OF THE WEEK....4 - The Gators have won their last four road openers dating back to 1998 and the overtime 20-17 loss at Tennessee. Many still think UF should have won that one. Road Opener...Sept 6 at Miami.

Fightin Gators Top Stories