Who will start the season at quarterback? Ingle Martin will start the fall
as the number one guy but he will definitely be looking over his shoulder.
Martin has shown the ability to move the offense and not make mistakes.
But he has lacked big play capability and if he tries to do more than he is
capbable of he will struggle. The other three players must take the job
away from Martin if they are going to start the season. Gavin Dickey must
get back to being patient and not forcing things, while Chris Leak and Justin
Midgett will need to prove that they can handle the next level. The
biggest change for Leak will be identifying coverages. Once he understands
that part of the game everything else will become easy.
Ack's Prediction: Hard not to go with
Leak having watched him throw the ball. He gives Florida a dimension no
other QB can give them in the passing game. I think Martin will start but
all three could play against San Jose St.
What is the defensive tackle rotation going to be? One thing is for sure
the Gators have a lot of numbers to roll in at the defensive tackle spot.
The quality of players is still to be determined but Charlie Strong won't
hesitate to move people in and out. Maurice Mitchell on the team helps
along with the additions of two freshman Michael Hill and Marcus Thomas.
One or both true freshman will play this fall. Strong will also move some
personnel around to play different teams (especially pass happy teams like San
Jose St.). Ron Dowdy and Kenny Parker finished the spring as the starters.
Ack's Prediction: Eric Holcombe
has added 15 pounds of muscle this summer and could be ready to emerge as a
dominant player. I think the combo of Holcombe and Mitchell will start the
game at Miami. Marcus Thomas and Kenny Parker will be first two after them
with Dowdy and Ray McDonald playing snaps as well.
Will Keiwan Ratliff play both ways during the season? Keiwan Ratliff knows
the offense after spending the spring at wide receiver. He gives the young
quarterbacks a presence at the slot position that is lacking in the passing
game. He does great things after the
ball is in his hands and knows what to do with it. Obviously the new
cornerbacks Reynaldo Hill and Demetrice Webb must emerge to give Coach Ron Zook
confidence to leave him on offense. The incumbents on campus - Johnny
Lamar, Matt Jackson, Nick Brooks and Deshawn Carter have not done enough to
convince Zook just yet. Hill and Webb would be the fastest corner combo at
Florida in over a decade.
Ack's Prediction: I think he plays
offense and will be a situational guy on
defense. He can play corner on a young defense or he can play receiver on
an offense looking to win games early while the defense comes along. Give
me offense and roll with Webb and Hill barring injuries.
Who will emerge at the linebacker spots? Todd McCollough has had a great
summer in the weight room after moving to middle linebacker in the spring.
He will be solid much like Bam Hardman a year ago because of his physical
nature. Matt Farrior and Dwright Jackson have been around f or awhile and
need to make something happen in the fall. Tauren Charles, Reid Fleming
and Brian Crum will all be in the mix for playing time early. Channing
Crowder has had a super summer and appears to be out of the woods with his off
the field problems.
Ack's Prediction: Channing Crowder
will emerge during the season as the next great Gator linebacker.
McCollough will lead but this group with Crum and Charles is the most athletic
group at UF since Kearse, Peterson and Rutledge. Jackson has had a very
good summer program.
Can Zook improve the special teams this season? The first pressure is on
Eric Wilbur who needs to be able to handle the punting duties as a true
freshman. Zook has handed him the job and protection should not be a
problem with the added depth at linebacker and defensive back this season.
Matt Leach returns and should be much better after finishing the season soundly.
The key may be to make sure holder Sean Morton does not quit the team during
fall camp like last year's holder. Ratliff and Dee Webb could return punts
which will help while freshman Andre Caldwell and Chad "Bubba" Jackson
could be on kickoff return.
Ack's Prediction: UF will block
four punts this season and return one kickoff for a touchdown. I like
Wilbur to hang on to the job because he reminds me a lot of Shayne Edge in that
he is an exceptional "heady"athlete. The kickoff return will be
much improved with game-breakers back there this season. Look for the
McCollum twins to make a name for themselves on special teams.
Will Ran Carthon hold up as the number one running back? Carthon will be
the starter going to the fall for the first time in his career. He has
great size, good speed and sure hands. His one drawback is that he has
been injury prone.T he running backs are the deepest and most talented
unit on the team with Deshawn Wynn, Ciatrick Fason, Jimtavis Walker and freshman
Joe Cohen. Wynn had a great spring and needs to get better without the
football while Fason who played last season needs to avoid fumbling.
Ack's Prediction: I think this
will be a position by committee depending
on the situation. Even if Carthon stays healthy Wynn and Fason will play.
Wynn could be real special and has the ability to make people miss while Fason
can take it the distance anytime he touches the ball. I would not be
surprised if they handle Joe Cohen the same way the did Fason last season.
Will the passing game be more vertical? Last year Florida attempted more
passes than any Gator squad ever and completed more than any in school history.
The Gators however became very horizontal in the second half of the season.
A lot depends on the the vision of whoever plays quarterback, but expect Ben
Troupe to make as many catches by a tight end since Kirk Kirkpatrick in 1990.
The passing game will also benefit from having a nice mix at receiver -
(possession guys - Carlos Perez, Kelvin Kight and OJ Small) and deep threats
(Dallas Baker, Andre Caldwell, Chad Jackson, Jemalle Cornelius).
Ack's Prediction: I believe UF
will throw deep early in the season just like last season but protection must be
better and the quarterbacks must be able to get the ball to the deep threats.
The running game, if successful, will help the down field passing, but expect
the screen packages for receivers to stay in the playbook each week.
Will Bobby McCray and Darrell Lee finally play to their potential? If the
spring and summer are any indications then they should both be ready for a
breakout season. The key for both players is Charlie Strong. Strong
coaches defensive ends as well as being the defensive coordinator. He
developed Kalimba Edwards at South Carolina and Reynaldo Wynn in Notre Dame.
He should make them better and put them in positions to make plays.
Ack's Prediction: Yes Strong will
make a difference and both guys should be watching last year's Miami tape till
the cows come home. It's simple, just squeeze and bounce the running back
on Wham G! Ok, I am not coaching but they could use some depth with
Travis Harris, Mackenzie Pierre, Steven Harris and Jarvis Moss.
Will UF emerge from fall camp a confident hungry team? Ron Zook will have
as many as 46 newcomers running out the tunnel on August 30th. His biggest
challenge may not be whether they know the playbook or assignment but whether or
not he can convince them they can compete for an SEC Title. There are many
good second year coaching success stories but none with a team this young.
He must spend fall camp working on the trust and psyche of his new team as much
as the X's and O's.
Ack's Prediction: This may be Zook's
biggest challenge especially with Miami in week two. The lack of respect
this summer by many will help motivate his team. The senior class led by
Keiwan Ratliff have voiced that
they are completely behind Zook this season. Last year some guys weren't
completely on board and this year there will be some that are not into the
Zooker, but the team leaders must help bring along the young talent.
Remember this philosophy of Zook," It's not about the X's and O's but about
the Jimmy's and Joe's". UF has
plenty of inexperienced ones but nonetheless they are very talented.
The Florida staff will try to improve on
certain areas of emphasis in fall camp for the upcoming season. First,
will be time of possession. The offense led the league and also ran more
plays than anyone else, but were near the bottom in time of posssesion. A
strong running attack will help this area, as Ed Zaunbreaker would like to see
UF near the the 30 minute mark which would be up from 28 minutes a season ago.
Offensively the main concern is scoring more points, but with the opportunity to
be in a lot of close games because of a young team the Gators would like to
improve their 4th quarter scoring. Last season, the UF offense only scored
64 points all year in the final stanza, so look for Zaunbreaker to be more
aggressive early in the season to putting up points in the final 15 minutes.
Defensively, Charlie Strong would like to
create more turnovers. The Gators have more speed this season which is
good but the lack of experience may cause them to give up some big plays.
Championship contending teams get 30+turnovers in a season. The Gators had
17 last year and remarkably were in the hunt until the end of the East race.
Look for more chances from the linebackers to create turnovers because the last
line of defense in Guss Scott, Cory Bailey and Daryl Dixon is solid.
Finally, look for a better turnover margin if UF has great success. Not
only does the defense need to get more turnover but the quarterbacks and running
backs need to secure the ball and not give any easy opportunities. Look
for an offensive emphasis in fall on throwing the ball away and protecting it in
traffic while the defense will try to pull it out of there and create big plays.