Camp questions

The Gators will host their annual media day on Thursday and report for camp that night before opening fall practices on Friday, just over four weeks before Florida opens its season against Toledo. Fall camp always has different storylines, and this year's brings important positions that need to be filled. The Gators have to replace important players on both sides of the ball.

When will Jeff Driskel return?

The Florida offense needs to improve during this season, and Driskel is a big part of that. The Gators learned on Tuesday that he wouldn't be able to participate in the beginning of camp after going through an appendectomy. The timetable of his return is up in the air, but Florida head coach Will Muschamp said it could be a two-week recovery before he can return to the practice field.

The Gators need him back on the practice field as soon as possible. There are three backup quarterbacks on the roster -- Skyler Mornhinweg, Tyler Murphy and Max Staver -- and none of them have thrown a pass in a college game. Driskel needs time to prepare for the season, especially with a trip to Miami on the schedule during the second week.

Will the middle of the defense replace its losses?

The Florida program returned to prominence last season because players on the defense became household names around the country. Most of those names are gone this year, including the entire middle of the defense. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and Omar Hunter, linebackers Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins, and safeties Matt Elam and Josh Evans are all participating in NFL camps this fall instead of the one in Gainesville.

It's the heart of the Florida defense, and that has Muschamp worried, even saying at SEC Media Days that the losses of those players have produced multiple sleepless nights. The suspension of linebacker Antonio Morrison only makes it more difficult early in the season. There aren't many answers at safety, and with Morrison suspended, the one sure thing at linebacker is now out of the lineup. Dominique Easley will slide inside to defensive tackle, but the second tackle spot is a question mark.

Will dependable pass catchers step up?

This question is even more difficult to predict with Driskel being out for the beginning of camp. It cuts into the time he has to develop chemistry with some of the new wide receivers and tight ends. The trio of backup quarterbacks need to elevate their play early in camp so the receivers can get reps similar to what Driskel can produce.

There are still plenty of questions about who the receivers will be. Quinton Dunbar is expected to lead the group, and Muschamp said that he is one of the most improved players on the team. There are high expectations for the freshmen wide receivers, lead by Demarcus Robinson, who was the only one of five freshmen to go through spring practices. Loucheiz Purifoy is the wildcard. He will have a role on offense and still patrol the Florida secondary.

Who will win the kicking job?

This doesn't seem like an important battle, but it will have plenty of eyes on it during the fall. The Gators lost one of the best kickers in school history after Caleb Sturgis graduated last season, and the battle for this year's job will take place between Austin Hardin and Brad Phillips.

Hardin has the stronger leg, but Phillips has kicking experience. It's likely that both will see action this fall. However, the Gators need an answer for which kicker will be sent onto the field for the first field goal or extra point.

It might seem like one of the lesser battles for a starting job, but after the Gators leaned on Sturgis throughout last season, they'd like another kicker they can send on the field with confidence.

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