A Look Back at 10 Pre-Spring Questions

Prior to spring practice I posed ten questions for the Gator Football Program. Let's look back at the answers with some post spring analysis.

1)What will the offense look like with new Offensive Coordinator Larry Fedora?
The offense will look very similar to what UF has been doing for the last two years. Some nuances such as more no huddle and a lot more formations with four receiver sets will be employed. Expect UF to really move at a fast pace with the football to try and establish an up-tempo offensive attack. I do think you will see the ball down the field to the young receivers on the outside. Florida will continue to work on it's shotgun running attack as well.

Keep an eye on: Sklyer Thornton

Post Spring  analysis: Two completions in the Orange and Blue Game over 70 yards I think say enough about the downfield passing. Both were off play action which is something I think you will see more of in the fall. The pace of the entire spring was much faster. Skyler Thornton proved he is ready to provide depth at the running back position.

2) How will the new secondary replace four seniors?
This is going to be tough because all four seniors were very good players. New secondary coach Dan Disch will create a demanding environment, which will create good competition. Reynaldo Hill showed some signs in the Outback bowl and may find some new confidence with a new coach. Dee Webb should emerge at one corner. Terrence Holmes and Jermaine McCollum are a couple of backups looking to provide some stiff competition at safety and corner. Jarvis Herring and Cory Bailey have played a lot of football but now they must step up and lead in the spring. I do think several freshman will be in the mix in the fall.

Keep and eye on: Terrence Holmes

Post Spring analysis: Holmes emerged as a fierce hitter (see Orange and Blue game) and a possible starter in the secondary. McCollum had two interceptions in the Orange and Blue game but still needs to improve. Vernell Brown is probably the third best corner. Hill and Webb need some seasoning but showed great potential this spring.

3) Which defensive ends will step up and emerge?
With the graduation of Darrell Lee and Bobby McCray combined with Travis Harris move to linebacker Charlie Strong returns little experience. What he does return is talent and potential. UF has plenty of young guns ready to compete at defensive end. You could see as many as five guys in the rotation in the fall during a game. Jarvis Moss has the ability and has added some size to take over for McCray. Steven Harris, who played some, is up to 275 pounds and in great shape. He has the chance to be a double threat at end with his ability to rush the passer and play the run. Joe Cohen, Julian Riley, Tranell Morant and MacKenzie Pierre will battle as well.

Keep an eye on: Tree Morant

Post spring analysis: This unit really emerged as a force in the spring. With youth, speed and numbers this could be a strength by the time fall rolls around. Riley moved inside and did a good job while Cohen was a huge success in his move to end. Steven Harris was solid and Jarvis Moss finished the spring strong. Tree Morant had 2 sacks in the Orange and Blue game and looks to be a special player.

4) Will C-4 take over the running back job full time?
The running back position will remain a strength on the offense with Ciatrick Fason and DeShawn Wynn returning with invaluable experience.
Jimtavis Walker and Skyler Thornton make this a deep and talented unit. The key to the spring will be the ability to stay healthy. Obviously UF will use more than one running back in the fall but it is important for Fason and Wynn to stay healthy and be productive. Coach Fedora has had strong running games with very good backs as an offensive coordinator and this year should be different. If Fason can have a big spring and show maturity as a third year player he could lock up a lion share of the carries this fall. Wynn must overcome some of his fumble issues while Walker must improve his pass protection.

Keep an eye on: Thornton

Post Spring analysis: This battle did not materialize like Ron Zook would have liked this spring. While both players remained healthy until Wynn was injured the final week, neither guy "broke out" in the spring until the Orange and Blue game. Fason shows why he is a gamer with several big runs and should be the starter going into fall camp. Walker decided to transfer prior to spring to another institution for playing time reasons.

5) Which wide receivers will step up?
This is the million dollar question with so many young guys forced to produce .Andre Caldwell could be the go to guy by the end of spring because he will work at various positions and possesses great speed. Chad Jackson is also poised for a big spring and will battle Jemalle Cornelius for a starting position. Dallas Baker, who has impressed coaches and fans in the past during practices and scrimmages, needs to be more consistent. With a lot of spread formations on the ledger expect to see all the receivers get plenty of opportunities at various positions.

Keep an eye on: Chad Jackson

Post spring analysis: Caldwell worked at two positions and looks to be the go to receiver in the fall. Dallas Baker has added confidence and better route running to his resume. Baker also appears to be the best deep threat receiver who can really go get the long ball. Jemalle Cornelius had a terrific spring holding off a challenge from Chad Jackson and should be a starter this fall. Jackson improved and running with the second offense he and Lewis along with Kenneth Tookes had strong finishes to the spring.

6) Who can replace Max Starks and Shannon Snell?
Florida loses a lot of experience with the departure due to graduation of Max Starks and Shannon Snell. Jon Colon will not take part in spring drills but if healthy could be a factor at left tackle. Tavares Washington, Steven Rissler, Anthony Guerrero, Ryan Carter and Carlton Medder will all be in the mix. Mo Mitchell, who should compete at right guard with Lance Butler, could be a candidate as is Butler to move over. Expect UF to use a bunch of combinations to develop the right continuity.

Keep and Eye on: Carlton Medder

Post Spring analysis: Tavares Washington had a good spring and will in to the fall as the starting left tackle. The emergence of Mo Mitchell and Steve Rissler at right guard moves Lance Butler over to the starting spot at left guard. Ryan Carter had a disappointing spring with his injury problems and Guerrero really made some strides at the end playing guard and tackle. Carlton Medder improved and is the number two right tackle for the fall.

7) Who will win the backup quarterback job?
Depending on how much Gavin Dickey participates in the scrimmages on Saturday's could effect this outcome. If they started today Dickey would be number two and rightfully so. Justin Midgett has had a good off-season and now must grasp the offense in the spring. This will be a great opportunity for Midget to elevate himself, and if he does he could end up making Leak a better player. I think Midgett has Eric Kresser like ability and Kresser made Danny Wuerffel a better player. Dickey has a good attitude and should be improved.

Keep an eye on: Justin Midgett

Post Spring analysis: Dickey did not participate very much in the spring and when he did he was just average. He has a leadership presence about him that gives the staff some confidence. Midgett displayed his arm strength with his 286 yards in the Orange and Blue game. The summer workouts will be key to both players and how much they have studied the playbook. The guy who will win the backup job will be the quarterback who makes the least mistakes (not the most big plays) in fall camp.

8) Which linebackers will rise up and become players?
This could be the toughest question to answer. Channing Crowder, who played in some pain to end the season, is UF's leader and he will look to
bring along his mates. Crowder is a three down linebacker who could see some time at middle linebacker. Earl Everett plays Crowder's spot and having them both on the field is the ideal situation for UF. Travis Harris will move back to SAM and should be reliable. Todd McCullough is going to see limited action after recovering from shoulder surgery. Howard Lingard, Brian Crum and Taurean Charles will look to have big springs to make an impact.

Keep and eye on: Earl Everett

Post Spring Analysis: Earl Everett is up to 225 lbs and wants to be at 230 lbs for the fall. He continues to be the most coachable linebacker who also has tremendous speed. Crowder did make the move to middle linebacker and really set the tone for the spring on defense. The first two weeks the defense dominated and he was a big reason why. Travis Harris has found a home at sam LB in this defense and is slimmer and quicker than in prior years. Todd McCullough had no contact but did go through drills in the spring. UF has four LB's that can play right now with Crowder, Everett, McCullough and Harris. Crum has moved to tight end while Lingard and Charles are still developing.

9) How will this team look compared to the end of last season?
Faster. This team will have more speed in their top 40 players on their roster than last season. While losing some veteran experience they will make up for it to youthful talent. These receivers have something you cannot coach which is "speed". I think linebackers and defensive line will be
faster units. If you have speed you can overcome inexperience especially on defense.

Keep an eye: Defensive line speed

Post Spring analysis: The defense dominated the first two weeks of the spring making it tough for the offense to score points. However, as injuries mounted, the offense got in a rhythm. The defensive line did register six sacks in the Orange and Blue game. The team overall was a much faster unit with guys like Baker, Caldwell, Cohen, Crowder, Hill and Webb making a lot of plays this spring.

10) How important is this spring for Ron Zook?
This is a critical spring for Coach Zook from the standpoint that he cannot have any "wasted" practices. His team must approach every day looking to increase it's learning curve to prepare for the season. This roster has more of "his" players than the first two years and his systems have not changed. Florida has talent they need, experience and repetitions and that's why this spring is more valuable than some other spring practices for college teams. After consecutive 8-5 seasons many fans may not except the "youthful" answer if the results are not better. One thing in UF's favor is they return one of the most talented and experienced quarterbacks in the conference in Chris Leak. The freshman season was good but his sophomore season will be better. He must lead in the spring and embrace this role with his teammates.

Keep an eye on: Scrimmages on Saturdays in the Swamp

Post Spring analysis: Borrowing a phrase from an old wise coach this team got better every day during the spring. There were some injuries but not any major ones that will deplete the roster. The defense showed it can be capable of making big plays with it's front seven and the offense turned the spring game into a score fest with it's passing game. Zook has to be pleased with his team's performance and will hope they put the same effort in the summer workouts prior to fall camp. The pressure to win is there but UF's talent is better, there schedule is more negotiable and they have a true star at quarterback in Chris Leak. It will be a young exciting team that if it can catch lighting in a bottle could win the SEC East. It is possible for young teams to make an impact nationally -- just look at Oklahoma, Ohio St. and USC to name a few the last couple of years. It should be an exciting summer of Gator Football talk, fueled by a strong spring finish of Gator Football.


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