Running with Options

Florida would like to see one of its several running backs make a move. Plus, Gators prepare for Wednesday's scrimmage...

With one of the deepest deep running back corps in years, the Gators don't have any concerns regarding numbers at the position. Now, it's about finding one back willing to make his move on the rest of the pack.

"Nobody is really standing out above the other," running backs coach Mike Locksley said. "We have a bunch of guys that have ability, but I'd like somebody to really step up."

Among the pack, Ran Carthon entered last spring as the probable starter until a foot injury held the senior to the sideline. Locksley said despite Carthon's return to full strength, the injury did allow sophomore Ciatrick Fason and redshirt freshman DeShawn Wynn to level the field.

Add true freshman Joe Cohen into the mix, and the Gators are looking at a tricky decision. Locksley hopes it doesn't involve rotating the backs during a game.

"I would hate to have to do that," he said. "I would like for somebody in the next few weeks to make the claim that the position is their's. If we can't get anybody to do that, we'll have to play running back by committee."

SCRIMMAGE TIME: Florida coach Ron Zook continues to waste no time preparing his players for the Aug. 30 opener. As usual, Zook is gunning toward the start of the season ahead of his planned agenda.

The Gators will scrimmage today for the first time, two days ahead of last year's schedule.

"When you're out here in practice, you have a lot of things going on," he said. "You put them in the stadium, let them rock and roll and see what happens."

In preparation, the Gators let loose Tuesday with some hitting during seven-on-seven drills.

Today's scrimmage will expose Florida's freshmen quarterbacks to the pressure of full contact for the first time, allowing coaches to gauge their ability under pressure.

"There will still be a quick whistle, but it's important for them to understand that they're going to get hit," Zook said. "How they react under the gun is going to have a big effect on jobs and so forth. It's easier when they know there's no threat or no concern about being hit."

The scrimmage, free and open to the public, will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Florida Field.

BIG MAN DOWN FIELD: Defensive tackle Sylvester McGrew showed Tuesday he's capable of more than the average big man. The redshirt sophomore caught a few passes at tight end.

"It's a position you want to make sure you have some beef," Zook said. "We felt good about the way he's been playing offensive guard, there's a lot of similarities knowing what's going on with the run game and so forth. He's a pretty athletic guy."

JACKSON EARNS PRAISE: The more progress made by Florida's cornerbacks could decide how much CB Keiwan Ratliff plays at wide receiver. Matt Jackson appears to be the one making the most strides, as the senior took most of his reps in Ratliff's usual slot.

"Matt had an excellent spring and preseason," Zook said. "I'm excited about the way he's attacked it. In the SEC there's so many multiple formations you're going to have to have more than four defensive backs."

IN SHORT: Junior Tavarus Washington, who has been practicing at first-team left tackle, and center Mike Degory missed practice because of a stomach bug….Mo Mitchell continues to show why he made the jump to the defensive side of the ball. And it may have more to do with his large mouth than his large frame. "When you hear Mo talking and yapping, that was one of the reasons I wanted to move him over there in the spring," Zook said. "Mo loves to play the game."…. Fason and Carthon both suffered cramps Tuesday, while Cohen suffered a slight groin pull. All are expected to play in today's scrimmage.

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