100 wishes for Gator football: Days #84-79

Thursday marks the 79th day before the kickoff of Jim McElwain’s first season at Florida. We started at 100 and are still behind, so trying to catch up. This Gator team could use a few good wishes from Gator fans, so here are six more.

Wish # 84: A Leader on Defense

We don’t know the status of middle linebacker Antonio Morrison with his injury and he was destined to be the leader on this defense if healthy. With him out during the spring, Alex Anzalone seemed to be the guy that stepped up.

Is Anzalone the guy? We don’t know the answer to that just yet.

Maybe the leader is Vernon Hargreaves, he is certainly the most talented. A more likely scenario in the secondary would be junior Keanu Neal. Jarrad Davis at linebacker is a thought although he missed the entire spring and he hasn’t started a whole lot for the defense in his time on campus.

It should be a priority to find a leader on defense.

Wish #83: The Dorms Ready for Fall

We have talked a lot about the lack of nice facilities for the football program. The neglect is chronicled in every major media outlet in the country.

From the folks I talk to that would care, player parents, recruit parents, recruits, etc., the biggest complaint has been the very old and outdated dorm rooms.

One thing that Jim McElwain has done since his arrival on campus in December was to push for facility upgrades and he is doing so at breakneck speed. That includes the dorm rooms where they have moved very quickly and hope to have a much more modernized version of the rooms ready by the start of the fall semester.

The new dorms will include two players to a unit that will have a complete living room and kitchen, their own bedrooms and their own personal bathrooms as well. A 55” flat screen television for each, queen sized bed for each, and new desk for each person in the unit is also a part of the new duds coming our way.

Let’s get it done Mac and company.

Wish #82: A Kickoff Man

We finally have a coach that would like to consistently be able to kick the ball off out of the end zone. I actually understand when a staff doesn’t want that because they have such terrific coverage units that they can bury teams deeper by kicking it at the goal line. In this league there are always going to be those teams that are just as good at scheming on special teams as you are, so having a guy that can out it out of the end zone and take any return worry is a good thing.

Who will it be is the question???

Austin Hardin was supposed to be that guy, but McElwain wasn’t impressed with Hardin during the spring game and it appeared it wasn’t something they really worked on in the spring. Jorge Powell was brought in and we don’t know if he can do it consistently.

Maybe it is a matter of Hardin or Powell really working on the distance thing, but we know this is something they really want done.

Wish #81: Some Stability for Lane

Redshirt sophomore running back Adam Lane had a heck of a break out game against East Carolina in January, and really wasn’t heard of before that… or sense.

Absent from most of spring drills with either personal issues or injuries, Lane got way behind. It wasn’t a good thing with Kelvin Taylor being the only healthy scholarship running back for most of the spring.

Here’s to hoping that Lane gets his issues solved and he can be that Maurice Jones-Drew type back we saw against East Carolina.

Wish #80: Success with the Tight Ends

Since #80 is also Cyontai Lewis’ number, this wish comes in the form of taking advantage of what the staff believes is a very athletic and talented bunch.

One thing this writer expects from this staff is a schematic advantage on offense. McElwain talked a lot this spring about the talent at the position and that should lead a lot of times for more than one of them to get on the field at the same time.

While most picture a two tight end offense as a run oriented smash mouth personnel, the athleticism of this group should allow them to spread out and find the athletic mismatches that come with matching safeties or linebackers on the tight ends.

For football scheming junkies, that sounds like a lot of fun. Let’s get it done.

Wish #79: A Close Locker Room

It isn’t easy for a new coach to have a locker room devoid of any dissension. The only guys on the roster that McElwain will have recruited are from this true freshman class and there is little doubt that the defensive guys loved Will Muschamp.

Urban Meyer faced this issue in the beginning with guys like Jarvis Herring that were outspoken about the coaching change, only to see herring really buy in and be one of the better players on the team his senior year. Meyer faced it again in 2010 with a very talented, but uppity recruiting class that came in and butted heads with the older guys. This probably didn’t help in the worst two years of his tenure here at Florida.

At the end of the day, these defensive guys want to win and they also feel like they have a competent bunch to lead them. There were already issues between offense and defense with the previous regime, and a decent start on offense would alleviate any of that. Honestly, you can tell there is a better trust in the offense from guys on both sides of the ball, despite what happens in the beginning.

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