What: The Orange and Blue Debut
When: Friday April 8, 2016; 7 p.m.
Where: Gainesville, Florida; Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
TV: SEC Network
The Orange and Blue Debut shouldn’t be anything like we have seen in the last 2-3 years. With a full allotment of offensive linemen, there will likely be one or two that are switching sides during the scrimmage, but they have enough to actually have a real competition between two teams.
With so many new faces, here is what I want to see.
Luke Del Rio is the leader of the pack right now, but having to look over his shoulder at this point is a good thing. It will be interesting to see how freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask do in front of a large crowd, but bet on senior graduate transfer Austin Appleby to feel a little more comfortable with the crowd and play well.
Whatever happens, I just don’t want for one or two of them to have a really bad day and I don’t anticipate that happening.
I do want to see big 6-foot-2, 242 pound Mark Thompson bull doze someone on the way to the end zone. He’s been one of the big stories of the spring. But, don’t sleep on senior Mark Herndon and sophomores Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite. Everything I am hearing points to this group being the most improved unit on the entire team.
The new guy isn’t exactly a young guy. Junior college transfer Dre Massey came in to add some dash and splash to the offense and as a junior, he is expected to contribute instantly. Reports out of camp are that Massey is better than they thought he would be and works as hard as anyone to make sure he knows what is going on. He’s a guy that can the jet sweep and the wide receiver screen as well as we have seen and I don’t want to see a big play or two as much as I expect to see them from Massey on Friday.
Of course we want to see a big play or two from the early enrollee freshmen Josh Hammond and Freddie Swain. Both have made big plays a regular happening this spring and it would be a big upset if we didn’t see one or two from them on Friday.
Even if it doesn’t happen from the four above, just like the running backs, we need to see some big plays out of the receiver unit Friday.
I have maintained that Stephens has the most physical ability of the bunch and he has probably gotten the most surprise praise from the staff. With the offensive line still not expected to be a strength, it is very likely we could see a good bit of multiple tight end sets in 2016, so getting Stephens and Knight ready to go for prime time would be a great thing.
Acting it out on the big stage Friday night could go a long way in growing the confidence of the young guys, so let’s see it.
By all accounts this group has been solid and making moves,
With the teams split up, it isn’t certain if they will split the first and second team or not, but there is still something to watch for.
Given that they feel pretty good about those five, the real competition for getting on the field has been coming from a quartet of redshirt freshmen interior linemen. Guards Nick Buchanan, Brandon Sandifer, and Richerd Desir-Jones along with center T.J. McCoy have been battling to get on the field.
Of the four, McCoy may be the most advanced and if he could push for that starting center spot, there is talk that Dillard could play some guard.
Regardless, these battles are what spring is all about. Seeing some of these linemen move a very stout defensive line around on Friday will be a site for sore eyes. These guys have all worked very hard to improve their bodies to get on the field in 2016 and we should expect the battling to continue up until the start of the season.
Look for midday a breakdown of what to look for on the defensive side of the ball.