Ack's Insights, News and Notes

In Tallahassee they are looking for team unity, in Coral Gables it's healthy bodies, in Nebraska it is the forward pass. Many teams in college football are looking for the magical "C" word. It is this word "Chemistry" that champion teams point to win hoisting the trophy. This year's Florida team may not hoist a trophy but it will sure have some of the right ingredients.

The Florida Gators however have five veteran players who have decided that the sum of the parts are greater than those of an individual. The most notable leader of "Team Zook" is senior offensive lineman Max Starks. Starks a true senior, has made the switch from three year starter (2 at left tackle) to right guard and it has become a success. Max has dominated inside and looks very comfortable at the right guard spot. He is part of a movement of upperclassman to get on board with Ron Zook, their head coach and buy into his philosophy. The other four potential starters are Mo Mitchell, Todd McCollough,Travis Harris and Matt Jackson.

Mo Mitchell is working himself into game shape to be able to give UF a force on the inside against the run. His athletic ability and mobility make him tough to double team. If he can give UF 40 snaps at 100% effort a game he will be a difference maker at tackle. Todd McCollough has never played a snap at inside linebacker but when asked to make the switch for the betterment of the defense he jumped to the front of the line. Travis Harris to defensive end is looking like the move of the season, as he is will be in the starting rotation at defensive end. The other move for Matt Jackson to corner brings a physical player to a position that needs it. As of Monday Jackson is listed as the starter opposite Keiwan Ratliff.

A season ago the Gators had Rex Grossman, Taylor Jacobs, Todd Johnson, Ian Scott and other established upperclassman so first year coach Ron Zook tried to keep things as similar as possible. The fact that the year before they not only should have won the SEC but could have played for the National Title in Pasadena helped lead him to that decision.

Now that it is year two and Zook has decided it is his way or the highway. The important part is that these athletes have willingly chosen his way and are helping develop tremendous team chemistry. Zook knows that his seniors, albeit a small class must represent leadership for his very young team. This gives him a chance to be successful this year and cements it for next year.

Max Starks has started 24 games, played in 31games and 1,921 snaps at Florida. He not only chose to move but he embraced it. Mo Mitchell has 4 starts and 15 games played in his 2 years, Travis Harris 4 starts , 22 games and played in the Sugar Bowl as a freshman while Matt Jackson has played the maximum 36 games in his college career. Todd McCollough also has 4 starts, 18 games and played in 12 games last season all at outside linebacker. Others are doing what's best for the team alsowith position switches.. Terrence Holmes to DB, Ron Dowdy back to DL, Sylvester McGrew to Tight End, Jon Colon to Right Tackle and Keiwan Ratliff to offense for the spring. All of these moves have shown the players willingness to do whatever it takes to win.

The 2003 version of Ron Zook's Florida Gators may not win 10 games or even 8 for that matter (I think they win 8) but the leadership of these players will set the groundwork for championship teams in the next two seasons. If a player of Max Starks caliber is willing to embrace a Ron Zook move then the entire team will buy into Zook Ball. While chemistry remains a problem over in Tallahassee, it remains a class at the University of Florida. Ron Zook and his staff can thank four willing upperclassman for that this season and who knows maybe this team will surprise the experts and put another number on the South End zone wall.

News and Notes:

Brian Crum's injury could hamper his learning curve on the field. He will be involved in film study, but linebacker coach Bill Miller who has coached some young stalwarts (Nate Webster. Dan Morgan) likes guys to learn by repetition on the field. Crum had overtaken Farrior.

Taurean Charles has has some tough luck. It started with his suspension in the spring after being listed as a starter. He worked himself up to the top of the depth chart before getting injued. He possesses exceptional speed from the middle.

The Crum injury hurts the nickel package a bit as it looked as if the starting three for San Jose St. would be Crowder, Crum and Cory Bailey.Farrior will need to rise up a bit and Todd McCollough will have to play some nickel.

The Gators cannot afford anymore linebacking injuries and may be force to play Howard Linguard this season.

Jermaine McCollum is making a difference in nickel packages. One nitch he has over other corners right now is that he is a better blitzer off the edge. It was evident in his turnover Saturday in the scrimmage.

Fightin Gators Top Stories