FINDING A QUARTERBACK…
New offensive scheme, not a lot of experience, three scholarship players… working these quarterbacks is an important thing this spring. They likely won’t name a quarterback by the end of spring but they need to have an idea of who it might be and get one or more ready for the fall.
Treon Harris has most of the experience now, but we saw a lot of his limitations at the end of the season in 2014. But, we don’t know where his top end is yet because of the way he was thrown to the wolves as a true freshman and the different things he went through in his first season. The staff should get a real feel for Harris this spring.
Will Grier redshirted as planned a year ago and now he has his body a little more ready to ply SEC football. Like Harris, Grier is a coach’s son and he grew up around football and has a knack for reading defenses. At 6-foot-2 and 197 pounds the redshirt freshman may have the best set of tools to run the Jim McElwain offense that will be installed this year. He will be a part of the biggest battle on the roster this year.
The third guy this spring is redshirt junior Skyler Mornhinweg. Mornhinweg has been a very good practice player at times, but when he was thrown into action a couple of years ago we saw his limitations physically in terms of throwing the ball. Another coach’s son he is the biggest of the group and another heady player, we can’t rule him out. Unless something has changed drastically, the Gators will be limited on offense with Mornhinweg at the helm.
FINDING A CENTER…
The toughest news this week was finding out that senior offensive lineman Trip Thurman won’t practice this spring and will start the fall in a limited capacity. That likely rules Thurman out as the guy they will target for the center position like many expected.
Two players that should go to the front of the line in tryouts at center are redshirt freshman Travaris Dorsey (6-2, 323) and sophomore Cam Dillard (6-4, 309).
Dillard came to campus as one of the highest rated centers in high school a few years ago. He hasn’t been able to fight for playing time enough to really get on the field.
Dorsey is a rough and rugged player that plays with a nasty streak and his height limitations would make center a good spot for him.
Inevitably it could be someone else, but finding an answer at center is very important.
FINDING A COUPLE OF HYBRID SAFETY/LINEBACKERS…
Geoff Collins plans on introducing a new position to the defense. A safety / linebacker hybrid that can play in the secondary or in the box depending on the offense they are facing and the defense they are running.
Two players come immediately to mind for me. Sophomore safety Marcel Harris (6-2, 208) and junior linebacker Jeremi Powell (6-0, 214) both fit the mold and coming from different positions.
For both Harris and Powell, this could be a real possibility for them to get on the field after fighting to do that for a couple of years now. Both have shown the physical play needed for the position and both are extremely athletic players that could be perfect fits for the position.
I am going back to the offensive line as the most important unit to really develop something this spring. There is little doubt that this band of seven warriors is going to need help from the freshman class, but getting a good feel for how the guys on hand can help is very important.
Fortunately it seems that the tackle position can be handled. Sophomore David Sharpe was thrown into service as a freshman last year at left tackle and performed well as a true freshman when he did. Sophomore Roderick Johnson may be the best player on the line and showed he can play inside or outside where he did well at both last year. Offensive line coach Mike Summers really liked redshirt freshman Andrew Mike enough to almost get on the field last year at tackle.
Now back to the point at hand… finding some guards. With Thurman out we can throw the two center prospects in the mix with Dillard and Dorsey. We can also throw Johnson in the mix if the tackles are fine without him.
That leaves sophomore Antonio Riles (6-4, 312) who has grown a great deal since arriving on campus as a defensive end a couple of years ago. And the last scholarship possibility is redshirt freshman Kavaris Harkless (6-5, 292).
FIND A DEFENSIVE TACKLE ROTATION…
Darius Cummings made his fair share of plays for the Gators a year ago. Losing someone like that would normally be a tough thing, but this unit has depth for sure. They just need to figure out a rotation for guys like senior Jonathan Bullard (6-3, 277), junior Joey Ivie (6-3, 293), sophomore Jay-nard Bostwick (6-3, 283), sophomore Caleb Brantley (6-2, 319), redshirt freshman Taven Bryan (6-5, 275), redshirt freshman Khairi Clark (6-2, 315), and redshirt freshman Thomas Holley (6-3, 320).
That is seven spots in the spring and will allow for quite a rotation and maybe allow some to move positions (see offensive line holes) or a Bullard to play more of a full time defensive end spot.
Looking at the weight gains the most significant to me is Holley. At 320 pounds Holley was known as a quick tackle when he signed at Florida. If he has maintained that quickness after missing a lot of practice time last year from injury, then he could be something else as a nose tackle at that size. Caleb Brantley played well last year and was actually a play maker. He’s down a little, but still a hefty 319 pounds so he should get a lot of work at the nose as well in this mix. Joey Ivie has played a lot of football in his first two years and that should continue. He is capable of playing both the nose and the three-technique. Finally Clark came to UF last year with a world of potential and has the supreme size to be a force at the nose.
Bullard will play inside and outside so could Bryan, who will have to find his way with his added size. Bostwick is another with quickness and that is a healthy group at the three-technique.
This spring there will be a lot to learn for this new Florida staff. They will have a lot of work cut out for them and there should definitely be some roster movement and especially along the lines of scrimmage.