Ack's Insights

This week I take a minute to review the spring game, talk about the Gators and the upcoming NFL & NBA Draft, go over Gator baseball and much more.

The spring game showed that UF can generate an exciting style of offense under Ron Zook. One problem was the fact that it did come against Gator defensive personnel. Before the red flags go up on Charlie Strong's unit a couple of things should be pointed out. First and foremost the unit had several injuries to key starters including Channing Crowder and Marcus Thomas. The lack of quality depth in the back seven got exposed against the number one offense. Secondly the game plan allowed for a lot of man coverage and with only two coverage's by the defense, it made it easy pickings for the quarterbacks. Finally, I think Ron Zook set this game up with those rules to put on a show for the fans while challenging his young secondary and linebackers to cover tightly. This formula resembled a college all-star game and provided great entertainment.

The offenses rolled up 836 yards including 621 passing yards while throwing only four bubble screens. The offense ran one screen out of Emory and Henry, which shows the sense of humor Zook has about the way things use to be. It was also an error free game with only four penalties (on the orange) and 36 first downs. The Blue offense was three of six on third down as well and looked more aggressive in the third down play calling. The offense put together five combined drives for touchdowns over 70 yards. Three of those drives were less than two minutes while UF mixed in plenty of play action passes. The defense did do some good thing with six sacks, three interceptions and a caused fumble. The front seven also recorded seven tackles for loss.

Several players had big games and one that caught many peoples attention was wide receiver Reggie Lewis. He had seven receptions for 109 yards and had what Ron Zook said a "hot " day. Lewis, like many young players, has struggled to be consistent. When he is good he has been real good. When he is bad he loses confidence and continues to struggle. Remember last season with one week to go in fall camp Lewis was running with the first team and then things went south and he went in the jar. He should use this game to capitalize on an opportunity to earn more playing time. David Kenner finished spring strong with four receptions for 72 yards and gives UF a nice one two punch at tight end with him and Markell Thompson. If Brian Crum can become a stretch the field vertically tight end in the fall the position could be as good as last season. Terrence Holmes delivered six tackles and three ferocious hits during the game. Holmes could win the starting job at safety in the fall. One thing is for sure he is the starter in nickel right now and secondary coach Dan Disch has three guys who can play two spots.

Some Spring Concerns: The linebacking corps still has some issues. Channing Crowder, Travis Harris and Earl Everett are three solid starters with Todd McCollough being the wild card as the fourth guy. McCollough could play SAM with Harris and MIKE with Crowder. One thing is for sure UF does not have a backup with the speed and range of Crowder. Howard Lingard is at the middle spot right now and is athletic and fast but makes too many mistakes. Taurean Charles may be able to play as a situational guy but it is conceivable that freshman Brandon Siler and Javier Estopinan could provide the depth this fall. Estopinan will start at the middle linebacker spot while Siler should back up Earl Everett at the weakside spot.

The secondary has three safeties and three corners that can play right now. Vernell Brown has proven he can step in and play while Dee Webb and Reynaldo Hill are the starters. The staff may be encouraged by Jermaine McCollum's performance but he must continue to improve in the fall. These units cannot afford many injuries and look for freshman to provide depth. Deshaun Carter had a miserable day in coverage but did add six tackles. It will be interesting to see if his confidence is shaken. Finally, I was underwhelmed by the punting game including Eric Wilbur. He looks like he coasted through the spring until Ron Zook called him out and now he is trying to straighten up. Wilbur has All-American potential and a huge freshman year under his belt but he must attack each season with the same passion.

Snippett and Tidbits.. The Blue won the game and snapped a three game winning streak for the Orange. The 73-yard pass from Chris Leak to Dallas Baker was the longest in a spring game since 1997. The 41 points by the Blue was the most since the Blue scored 41 in 1999. Ciatrick Fason's 141 yards are the most rushing yards in a spring game since records started being kept in 1996. The losing team had to eat beans and franks.

With Ryan Carter leaving the team because of health reasons UF should be ok on their scholarship count if all incoming freshman qualify. Reggie Vickers became the second player in a year to leave the team without telling any of the coaches. Jermaine Thomas also quit showing up for practice.

Ron Zook gave in to one of his policies in an effort to appease the media by allowing Justin Midgett to talk after the game. The policy, which is used at several institutions including Joe Paterno and Penn State, is that no freshman shall speak with the media until after playing in an actual game. Midgett, who was red-shirted last season and did not see any action, had a huge day for the Orange team. Justin handled himself quite well with the media. The staff will work in the film room this week before departing to spring recruiting next week.

Gator Sports: The Gator baseball team lost two one run games including Sunday at #7 South Carolina when Justin Hoyman returned to the mound. He had to leave with a 5-0 lead because of a blister on his throwing hand. He left early in his last start against Georgia with back spasms. Hoyman, an All-SEC candidate, is the catalyst of the pitching staff and was 6-0 before the last two crucial starts. Hoyman has allowed only three home runs in 68 2/3rds innings this season. The Gators are 8-3 in games decided by one run and lost their fourth consecutive series to South Carolina. The Gators go on the road this weekend to Mississippi State where Pat McMahon use to run the show. UF is 6-4 on the road after recording just five road wins last season.

The Gator basketball faithful still await word on Anthony Roberson and his decision. Roberson is being projected as a late second rounder in all the mock drafts. Roberson could declare and not sign with an agent and test the waters up until June 17th to decide. If Roberson can afford to pay for himself he can go to the pre-draft camp in Chicago June 8th and workout with other prospects for the NBA scouts. Two other sophomore point guards have declared already for the draft, Darryll Hill from St. Johns and Nate Robinson from Washington. Roberson did have a cousin who played in the NBA and an uncle who played in the NFL so he should be getting some candid advice on what lies ahead.

Finally, the NFL draft is next week and once again I will be posting my Mock head to head with (Jamie) Newberg. Ben Troupe has a chance to go anywhere from as high as number 17 to Denver to 26 to St. Louis or 27 to Tennessee. Troupe could end up in the second round as well. Other guys who have a chance to go on the first day are Max Starks, Shannon Snell, Keiwan Ratliff and Bobby McCray.

Stat of the Week:1360 lbs.
The total lift for Mo Mitchell on the bench press, squat and power clean. This was the highest on the team and earned him the Lifter of the Year this spring.

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