As we head downhill to finish spring ball, there are several players on offense that the Gators need to finish strong. There are varying reasons for this, but with those listed below a strong finish to spring means a better looking and more productive offense.
We all know the struggles the Florida offense had a year ago. It started with a young and experienced offensive line. The troubles grew with the quarterback position being in disarray and there were still a lack of play makers on offense to help out the more direct issues.
Well this spring, they can help alleviate a lot of those issues if the following players finish strong.
Any second quarterback…
While we shouldn’t actually hand the keys to the offense over to redshirt sophomore Luke Del Rio most of all the reports and behind the scenes word is that he has distanced himself from the rest of the pack. That is great, if it is truly the case. Transfer senior Austin Appleby by most accounts is second in the race, followed by the two freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask.
The Gators really need at least one of those last three to find another gear and put some heat on Del Rio, if not win the job from him outright. We have learned that competition can be a great thing, so having someone on Del Rio’s heels is important not only in case of emergency, but to make Del Rio get better as well.
Fulwood and the freshmen…
He’s had more ups than downs, and the consistency needs to continue for senior receiver Ahmad Fulwood. He’s a tall receiver that came to Florida with plenty of high school accolades and hasn’t loved up his potential just yet. With a group that’s pretty much changing over, Fulwood not only needs to have a good year he needs to take the young guys under his wing and help lead them.
Freshman Joshua Hammond and Freddie Swain have had really good springs. Along with Dre Massey who should be expected to finish strong at this point, the two freshmen came to school early to make a difference in year one. They have asserted themselves this spring and need to finish the last half even stronger. With the questions still surrounding Antonio Callaway, Florida needs both freshmen to get in the mix and start or at least in the rotation for fall.
Junior Mark Thompson is a beast of a running back that continues to learn the offense and has been impressive so far. Mentally behind sophomores Jordan Cronkrite and Scarlett, he is pushing and is in a position to catch or at least push the sophomore duo. The thing here is much like quarterback. The ore competition the better and Florida head coach Jim McElwain loves what he is getting from that stand point as each of the three guys are making the others better.
We have seen the same starting five from the offensive line for the entire spring outside of a broken nose from center Cam Dillard that has had him missing the last two practices. Dillard, right guard Tyler Jordan, left guard Antonio Riles, right tackle Fredrick Johnson, and left tackle David Sharpe aren’t necessarily locked in to start at their positions respectively, but they seemed to have shown the mettle to be in that group after the dust settles.
Redshirt freshmen guards Nick Buchanan, Richerd Desir-Jones, and Brandon Sandifer have all done some nice things, but the Gators could certainly use it if these guys can push to at least solidify the two-deep in the interior. This would also allow sophomore Martez Ivey a chance to move outside when he returns from surgery recover in the fall. The depth at tackle is nothing like inside, especially if the three mentioned here can really make a move.
We’ll tackle the defensive side tomorrow.