Ack's Insights

Florida begins off-season workouts concentrating on building size and strength. With 45 freshmen playing in 2003 it is important to continue the development in the weight room.

Most coaches subscribe to the old way of developing high school talent and that's through a solid annual strength and conditioning program. For example, offensive linemen, as a true freshman, would red-shirt, adding as much as 15-20 pounds of muscle and weight in one year if training properly. As a red-shirt freshman he would see limited action while becoming stronger and more agile. By his sophomore year he would be prime to contend for a starting position. This is the formula used by most schools in the past and at most positions except for some of the skilled positions.

College football today has accelerated that plan to two years with many lineman and skilled guys included. With the 85 scholarships and more players leaving early it's vitally important for rising sophomores and red-shirt freshman to get themselves into the proper shape. Lets take a look at Ray McDonald for example. He came in as a linebacker-defensive end type and red-shirted. With that year in the weight room he got himself to 252 pounds and with great quickness he rose from third on the preseason depth chart to a 13 game starter and an important part of the defense. Ideally he needs to add 15 pounds for next season and play his final three years at near 270 and still maintain his quickness. The next 6-8 weeks will be an important phase in his development. You don't want to waste time in the winter in the weight room and the pre-spring workouts set the foundation for the summer grind. One reason UF got tired late in games on defense is that after four quarters the size disadvantage Ray McDonald encountered would tire him out. Think about it, a man 50-75 pounds more than you leaning on your frame for 50 snaps? You can counteract that with playing more players inside but this past season Ray was the best at his position.

Gator Basketball: The Gators had a terrible second half at Vandy and lost there first SEC game of the season. Wednesday they host a very good and veteran Mississippi State team. UF is 24-6 against SEC West teams the last five years and they were 6-0 vs the West last year. The Gators dropped to #17 in both polls while Miss State is ranked AP #20/USA #24. Lawerence Roberts is an outstanding athletic post player who is averaging a double-double for the Bulldogs. Florida had more turnovers (24) than made baskets (22) against the Commodores. The Gators, who have struggled to maintain their intensity on the road this season, will look to get back on the winning track at home. The Gators have shot better than 50% in five or the last six games. For the Gators to get to the next level Christian Drejer has to be more assertive. He only took two shots against Vanderbilit. Drejer needs to be the floor leader especially in the half court. Look for him to get 7-10 shots vs Mississippi State. David Lee remains consistent but must play defense big time against the inside game of the bulldogs, Lee is averaging 15.6ppg and 7.8 rbs per game.

Here are some National Rankings for UF Hoops: The Gators are 13th in the nation in ccoring at 83.5, 18th in rebounding margin, 8th in field goal percentage 50.3%, 6th in assists at 19.2 per game. UF is also ranked 10th in the country in field goal percentage defense. The one stat that UF is not ranked in the top 30 according to NCAA Sports is 3point field goal percentage. The Gators must increase this number in league play.

Snippetts and Tidbits:
This week's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama will have four Gators trying to impress the NFL Scouts. Max Starks, Bobby McCray, Keiwan Ratliff and Guss Scott. Hopefully Scott and Ratliff will take the week more seriously than they did the Outback Bowl.

Because of Ron Zook's involvement in recruiting, the naming of a new secondary coach could come after signing day. Zook recruits like he's an assistant coach trying to earn his stripes. One longshot name that could end up on the list is George Edwards formerly of the Washington Redskins. Edwards who probably will land an NFL job could be a strong asset to the Gator staff. As of this week Edwards did not have a job, but the Senior Bowl is a place where most NFL coaches meet. If he were to join the Gator Defensive Staff it would give Ron Zook three assistants with Defensive Coordinator experience. Add Ron Zook to the mix and that would make four. I think Bill Miller would coach the secondary and Edwards linebackers but luring him to Gainesville is a longshot at best.

Speaking of defensive coordinators former Gator Jerry Odom the defensive coordinator at East Carolina was in Florida recently looking for recruits. He believes that they will get it going at East Carolina and John Thompson remains very upbeat about the future. He is looking for talent in the state to help turn it around and right now the Pirates have 8 verbals from the Sunshine state. Odom was recruiting Pk Yonge two way star Eric Rutledge who plays running back and linebacker. Pk Yonge has sent a bunch of great players to UF and Odom clearly thinks he can tap into that pipeline at East Carolina.

Finally with regards to recruiting this could be a big week for the Gators. UF could have as many as five commitments by the end of the week. With all the negative recruiting going on against Florida the staff has decided to counteract that with silent commits. One thing is for sure, Ron Zook will have a good class in recruiting, while signing the maximum and the negative vibes will continue to keep coming from Florida's nearest rivals.

Stat of the Week: 3.6
This is the number of made shots per game this season by Christian Drejer. For UF to go to the next level Drejer has to become more offensive.

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