Time To Impress

It doesn't take a ‘football genius' to realize that the annual Orange & Blue Game is a time that will ‘make'' or ‘break' some players trying to gain starting positions come fall.

"I don't know if (the spring game) is ‘do or die'…but, it's extremely important for some," said DL Coach Jerry "Red" Anderson.

"I mean, I just look at it like any other game," said Sophomore WR Jemalle Cornelius. "I'm just going to come out tomorrow and try to perform up to the best of my ability. It's a big day. It's a big day for everybody that's playing. It's an opportunity to show what you can do. It's probably going to be ‘springboard' for you in the fall. So, you definitely want to come out here and have a good outing."

"There are a lot of guys (who feel) that this situation is important to them. It's important for them to continue to get better," said UF Head Coach Ron Zook. "But, it's also an opportunity to show what they can do in a similar ‘game-type' situation."

Speaking with some of the players after Friday's final practice, you could see that they're anticipating Saturday's scrimmage ‘big-time'.

"I think the team is at a real high peak! Everybody's out here competing. When everybody's competing, that just makes us so much better," said junior RB Ciatric Fason, adding that, "everybody has come along fine. I feel like we're going to have a better year coming up than we had the last two years. That's a good thing. I couldn't say that last year, but, I can say it this year. Tomorrow, we'll just go out there and have fun."

Coach Anderson said that the Orange & Blue Game kind of ‘sets the tone' for how the team is going to play next season. "Obviously, we won't be doing everything we're going to do (compared to a regular season game)…but, the enthusiasm, the spirit, the hustle…those are all things you like to show people what you're going to be like next year."

So, what can Gator fans expect to see on Saturday? Well, here's a hint from Fason: "The offense has changed a little bit (compared to last year), but, not too much. We go a little bit faster. And, the faster we go, the quicker the defense will get tired. That's what we've been concentrating on the whole spring…just going fast and trying to get the defense tired. So far, it's been looking good. We're going to see how good it looks tomorrow."

Coach Zook said that, "hopefully, (the fans) are going to see a show. We want to see a high tempo, fast-paced game. I think teams are split-up. I think they'll come out here and compete…and, fly around and make some things happen. I think it'll be an enjoyable time. I really do!"

==============NOTES==================

***Junior RB Ciatric Fason on Sophomore QB Chris Leak:
"He came in here focused. With a year under his belt, he's just more focused this year than he was last year. Especially, being a quarterback, he's the leader of the group…and, he feels like it's mostly on his shoulders this year…just trying to prove himself some more. He's come a long way with the receivers…more than he was last year…hitting on more timing routes and things…more on-track, and, trying to hand-off the ball to the running backs. He's just improved on a lot of things. Chris is even running better than he did last year. People didn't think he could run…but, they're going to see a lot of it when we get into the regular season."

***DL Coach Red Anderson on the spring as a whole:
"I tell you what…I thought we had a real good spring. We still have an awful lot of young guys. For me personally…obviously, we've got a lot of guys injured that are inside right now. So, that gave me a terrific opportunity to work with a lot of the younger people. They're eager to learn. I think, energetically and enthusiastically, a lot of these guys who've been in the system before these younger guys are starting to gel together."

Coach Anderson also said that, "the guy that I think made the most improvement is (freshman DT) Clint McMillan. From the start until the end, he's the guy that's probably improved the most. (Freshman DL) Brandon Daniels should still be in high school. He's up here early. So, he's had to learn an awful lot. He made a big jump. There's an awful long way for him to go yet, but, he's working at it."

"Inside, obviously, the two starters, sophomore DT Ray McDonald and sophomore DT Marcus Thomas have both been injured. Coach Anderson said that the hernia operation Thomas had on Thursday was a success: "He's doing great. Everything went fine. It'll be about a month…and, he'll be back ready to go again.

***Coach Zook said probably for sure that sophomore LB Channing Crowder and sophomore RB DeShawn Wynn won't play in the scrimmage. Senior OL Tavares Washington may play. He said if it was a real game, they'd play. "I don't think you take a chance at making (the injuries) worse." After practice on Friday, Crowder did some mild running. He said that he's not too happy about not playing tomorrow. But, you can be a ‘heck-of-a-lot' sure that he'll be rooting-on his teammates.

***Sophomore WR Jemalle Cornelius on his progression this spring:
"I think it went well. I got a lot better in a lot more areas…really tried to concentrate on running my routes and doing things after I get the ball in my hands."

***Senior OL Anthony Guerrero, a former JUCO player, will certainly be trying to impress the coaches on Saturday. Guerrero's family --- his parents, John and Anna, and, his brother, Vince, traveled all the way from Lakewood, California to see the Orange & Blue Game. "We love every game," said John Guerrero, Anthony's father," adding that, "we are a part of the game. When he was in high school we saw all of the games…and, in junior college we saw all of the games. We're very happy to be in Gainesville this weekend!"

***FAN NOTE: ALL RULES FOR FANS FOR REGULAR SEASON GAMES WILL APPLY AT THE ORANGE & BLUE GAME.

==========GATOR TRIVIA============

***Answer to Friday's question: Before Gavin Dickey, the last athlete who played both football and baseball for the Gators was Aaron Walker, who was the starting designated hitter for the 1999 UF baseball team when the season opened against Miami. Walker was selected by the San Francisco 49ers as the 161st pick in the 5th round of the 2003 NFL Draft.


Fightin Gators Top Stories