Tuesday Practice Report

Zook says 10 or 11 true freshmen will play in opener. Plus, rotating quarterbacks continues to be the plan...

Of all the questions lingering around this year's depth chart, there has never been a doubt the youth would be forced to produce immediately.

And less than a week from its opening game, Florida's plan remains intact. Tuesday, Coach Ron Zook said 10 or 11 true freshman will shed their redshirt in the first game.

"They may not be ready in terms of the way you want them ready today or Saturday," Zook said. But I can remember thinking last season, ‘Man, we should've played Reggie Lewis the fifth week of the season.' He was ready. At that point in time he could've helped us."

Zook, who continues to say his biggest regret last season was playing too few freshmen, noted that 43 rookies will make their debut in the Swamp.

"Do you have to temper their enthusiasm about emerging from tunnel?" Zook said. "You do a little bit. I think you kind of control that in the opening comments and so forth in the locker room. But shoot, I'm worried about myself running out of there."

Of the 10 or 11 unspecified freshmen who will see playing time, Zook had the most to say about wide receiver Andre Caldwell. It appears clear Caldwell will play a substantial amount Saturday.

"[Andre] gets his hand on the ball and he can flat fly," Zook said. "He had a move last night in the two-minute drill where we had two guys converging on him and he split it and just went. Here's a guy who has run 10.3 [in the 40-yard dash.] We've got a great, great staff. We don't have anyone on this staff that can coach 10.3; that's fast."

TRUTH STARTING TO SURFACE: Zook may continue to keep from squealing about who will start at quarterback, but some aspects of the game plan are becoming clear. Offensive coordinator said he did know who will take the first snap, but he wouldn't say who.

Despite the silence, it might not even matter. The Gators will almost certainly rotate between Chris Leak, Ingle Martin and Gavin Dickey.

Whatever the case, Zaunbrecher said he will not just throw quarterbacks in the game at random.

"I think you set a schedule ahead of time because I don't want it to be a deal where a guy feels like if he makes a mistake he's going to be out or that type of thing," Zaunbrecher said. "And I want whoever is going to go into the game to know he's going to be in there and he's prepared for his time."

If his comments Tuesday were any indication, the offensive coordinator's style could mean Martin will be the first man in.

"Sometimes it really helps, especially with young guys, for a guy to sit out a series and see what's going on from the sidelines," Zaunbrecher said.

Of all indications, true freshman quarterback Justin Midgett, who predicted he would be the starter by the Tennessee game, may not be on the fast track he expected.

Midgett has been running with the scout team, and he could be a potential redshirt candidate. Zook, though, doesn't want to say he won't play just yet.

"It doesn't mean that at all," Zook said. "He was running scout team, but as I've said all along, Justin is a heck of a prospect and he has done some things that are exceptional. I think probably it's safe to say at this particular time, he doesn't have command of the whole offense the way maybe some of the other ones do."

RATLIFF TO PLAY ONLY DEFENSE: Because of the improvement of O.J. Small, Reggie Lewis and Caldwell at wide receiver, Zook said Keiwan Ratliff will not play any offense against San Jose State.

"We are a little bit thin on defense, and [Ratliff] does provide a lot of leadership and he is a big-play guy on the defensive side of the football," Zook said. "So we've got guys we feel like we can keep him fresh, they can make big plays, they can make things happen. So right now we're planning on keeping Keiwan mostly on the defensive side.''


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