Scrimmage Observations

Florida's scrimmage on Wednesday night provided a glimpse of the past and a peek at the future. If big plays by the offense at a rapid pace is what you have missed from the Steve Spurrier era, then Chris Leak and company may be on there way to restoring it in the coming years. The scrimmage was dominated by some sensational individual performances and established Chris Leak as a quarterback to be reckoned with. Leak was very sharp from beginning to end and left many of us wanting more.

I have said this many times, he (Chris Leak) is as ready to play as a freshman as any quarterback I have seen. Sure he will make mistakes but he possesses something extra which is hard to bottle and sell. He knows the offense and he knows how to get the ball to the "playmakers". He completed passes to all receivers in all types of routes and showed tremendous touch and leadership. It was only the first scrimmage but you could hardly do much better as a true freshman.

The other quarterback were not bad either as Justin Midgett started very strongly and Gavin Dickey looked much "cooler" than he did in the Orange and Blue game. I thought Gavin did very well under duress but made one ill advised throw. Ingle Martin really missed not having Ben Troupe in his group but he did move the chains some. Martin had a touchdown called back to O.J. Small because of a penalty.

Ron Zook thinks competition is healthy for the position which is why he is waiting to name a starter. Rex Grossman was a better player in 2001 notj ust because of Spurrier but also because of Brock Berlin. This offense works and it has young playmakers. It's the quarterback's job to get it to those guys. All of the QBs can move the team which makes it more obvious that UF finally has some threats at receiver.

So who leads the quarterback derby? Coach Zook will not get into naming a depth chart after each practice and I suspect he will not name a starter until the San Jose State week. I still think two guys play in the first game, but when you break it down it's hard not to give the edge to Leak at this point. He can make all the throws. Leak has not thrown an interception since Friday. He is developing a touch on his short passes and he has got other players playing extremely hard when he is in the game.

The Ack's criteria for evaluating QB's:

- knowledge of offense
- decision making and reads
- protection of the ball
- completions
- field general
- down and distance awareness
- results

Based on this criteria I would give Chris Leak an A for the first scrimmage. Gavin Dickey a B while Martin and Midgett get C's. I think the competition is healthy and some guys perform better when a spot on the bench is awaiting them if they don't perform.

Dallas Baker had a tremendous scrimmage and could be All-SEC when the season is over. He continues to dominate and show great body control when going up for balls. The receiving corps in general impressed me with Reggie Lewis, Jemalle Cornelius and Ben Troupe having big nights. Andre Caldwell, Chad Jackson and Carlos Perez all made big plays. I like the speed of Cornelius, as he ran away from Demetrice Webb and the fearlessness of Reggie Lewis on two receptions in traffic from Justin Midgett over the middle.

Ben Troupe ran over and over people and really looks comfortable in several positions. He runs well out of a three point stance, a flex stance and standing up from tight formation. He was a very difficult matchup all night.

The defense did have some bright spots, especially with some of it' s younger players. After a slow start which includes some missed tackles for big plays several guys shined. Charlie Strong was without Bobby McCray, Daryl Dixon and they sat Guss Scott a lot so the bullets were not all in the gun.T he most glaring weakness was without Dixon as Jarvis Herring had a tough practice. But the loss of McCray allowed Johnny Dingle and Trannell Morant to shine. Both players are freshman and showed a lot of enthusiasm. Channing Crowder played well, as did Travis Harris, Maurice Mitchell, Brian Crum, Dwright Jackson and Reynaldo Hill. The defense only got one interception and it was off Dickey.

The defensive tackles struggled versus the run and the young linebackers were too aggressive at times and their inexperience got exposed. Kenny Parker got doubled a lot and Ronald Dowdy just did not make enough plays. Max Starks was very good inside and the offensive line may be as good as UF has had in awhile. Ray McDonald and Marcus Thomas had some good plays but need more repetition.

Quick Hits:

- Jimtavis Walker continues to impress me as another legit back in the stable.
- Ciatrick Fason must hold onto the ball or he won't play. He has big play ability.
- Ran Carthon was banged up a bit and missed the scrimmage. Keep an eye on his track record.
- Max Starks looks very comfortable at right guard.
- Ray McDonald will be in the rotation I like his motor and he had a sack.
- This defense will be at it's best when it blitzes and plays with emotion.
- Too many missed tackles from the defense. That must improve on Saturday.
- Jonathon Colon is getting better and did a solid job at left tackle.
- All of the UF running backs do a nice job of waiting for the hole to develop in the zone blocking scheme and they have the speed to bounce it outside anytime.
- Gavin Dickey made a costly mistake throwing into cover 3 twice. Once for an interception by Dwright Jackson and the other coincidentally ended up as a touchdown to Ben Troupe.
- The defense did a good job getting after it in the redzone series and was helped by Johnny Dingle's enthusiasm.
- The Linebackers are getting lost in coverage making it easy for QB's to dump to the backs for big yardage on check downs. Expect this to improve during camp.

The next scrimmage is Saturday afternoon in the Swamp and another day to take a peek at the future of Gator Football. Make sure you get there early.

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