Ask Ack - May 24, 2004

In this edition of <b>Ask Ack</b>, I answer questions about the chain of command on offense, the baseball team's post-season hopes, scheduling issues for the football team, the running back position and more!

What are your feelings about who should be the number 1 guy at running back this year, and how they should be rotated? I think Fason should get the majority with Thornton and Wynn rotating in and out. Also I would like to see Manson redshirted, any chance of that?

I believe every job should be earned by a combination of both great practices and delivering on game day. At this time I think Ciatrick Fason should be the starter. He obviously delivered down the stretch last season and is a hard worker in practice. Ciatrick has regained his confidence and can take it the distance on any play. I think he needs to touch the ball a minimum of 20 times per game. In this day and age of injuries and so forth, you cannot have enough running backs. I love the way Deshaun Wynn runs the football, especially in the red zone and short yardage situations. He lost some confidence last season but had a good solid spring. Wynn and Fason should play a lot with Ciatrick earning the most carries but both guys run certain plays well within the offense. I think if UF reaches 450 attempts again this season I think Fason and Wynn should get 300 at least. Last season it was a three headed position but I do not think Thornton is ready to get 85 carries this season. I think Manson will play this year. For a freshman to redshirt he must really not be able to contribute in any fashion or be injured. I think Manson can help on special teams and provide depth at running back. He is a very talented player with great size and speed. If everyone emerges healthy from the first two games and fall camp then if Manson is not comfortable it could be a redshirt year. I think the percentage chance of him red-shirting is less than 50%. I think this running back unit can average more than 4.5 yards per carry for the season.

Yo Ack,
Great work! Why doesn't Foley get us in the kickoff classic, or pigskin classic etc. Lot's of teams, not scared to put it on the line out-of-the-gate, play challenging games. It's okay to play Middle Tenn., but what about Ohio State, Michigan or some of the PAC Ten schools like So. Cal, Oregon etc. Gator football NEVER does that! The basketball team ALWAYS does it!

First of all I would love to see the Gators in a Kickoff Classic. I think it would be great exposure and if handled correctly could be a valuable experience for the players. There are several downsides to the kickoff classic however. The first reason is the schedule is generally tough enough as it is and with the SEC title game you are asking your players and coaches to do a lot over a 13 game schedule. The SEC has been the toughest conference over the last ten years and the last two years the Gators have played a twelve game schedule. I think once the NCAA puts the twelve game schedule in for good then UF may explore the possibility of playing someone other than Miami. Remember the reason UF schedules these early season games like this is two fold. The Georgia game is at a neutral site and you need six home games. Also these would be a homecoming game if they could move South Carolina or Vanderbilt to the front of the schedule, but the SEC likes having the Tennessee game as it's "marquee" September match up.  Vanderbilt plays Alabama early and South Carolina plays Georgia early ever year, so the Gators always have an SEC team as a homecoming opponent. Coaches will also tell you that some of the negatives with a kickoff classic is that you start so early because of practice and so forth you tend to run out of gas. I know Ohio St captured the title two years ago after beating Texas Tech in a "Classic" game but they also remained pretty healthy the entire season (except for Clarett) and they did not play in a conference title game. Conversely Kansas State did play in a "classic" last season against California then because of injuries to Ell Roberson fell asleep in the middle of the season before finishing strong and winning the Big 12 title. I think with travel, practice and so forth it is hard to do in the Big 12 or SEC with title games. Basketball has upgraded it's non conference schedule the last couple of years and Billy Donovan deserves a lot of credit for that. It takes both sides and television to make this happen however.            

Couple of Questions for the UF Engineering Department, perhaps! 
Noise in the Swamp: Has there been a study made recently during a game to measure the decibel levels? Is noise an additive phenomena - meaning will 85k people screaming make 85k times more noise than one person screaming - is there a limitation? And, lastly, sound is a percussion wave - so it can physically impact the players on the field, during loud times in the Swamp, what do the players feel? Vibrations? Can they get disoriented by the fan noise? Thanks.

I do not know of any recent study done to measure the decibel levels but I am sure the new press box has increased the noise the last year. As for the scientific questions , I am not qualified or smart enough to give you a logical answer. I do know this, the noise in the swamp is a great advantage for UF on defense and when the fans are cheering prior to a snap or during a timeout. The benches are so close to the field it is very hard to communicate to your players on the sideline and obviously when the defense is on the field it makes it tough for the opposing teams to check to an audible. The noise also helps energize the defense and this defense must play with a lot of energy and emotion. As for your final question on disorientation maybe that one should be answered best by Peyton Manning who is one of the best in the NFL but seemed awfully confused in the Swamp in the Mid-90's.

If Fedora is in the booth and Locksley will signal in the plays, what will Zaun do? Or is it a foregone conclusion he will be getting another job this summer? Also, I was no fan of JR Stephens until we got Wickline. Now JR looks pretty good. What grade would you give Wickline for 02 and 03?

Zaunbrecher will be coaching Chris Leak during the game like any other position coach. He will be involved in suggesting and helping the transaction of plays and the game plan during the game. Leak will spend time talking to Zaunbrecher face to face in between series.  I would give Wickline a B for both seasons. The running game has been pretty good even without some injuries to some key players. I think this offensive line could be the best one UF has had in the Zook Era. They have all been in the system and the incoming recruits are pretty talented.

I know last year both Fedora and Locksley were in the booth with Zaun on the field calling the plays (with Fedora's help). Do you think Lox will move down this year and if he does do you think Dixon will move up. I ask this because a lot of people in Gainesville feel that Dixon is sort of being pushed out with his recent demotion, and I was wondering if you see any truth in this. Dixon is a good coach and a great Gator and I wouldn't want to see him go.
--Matt Davis
Junior @ UF (Jax originally)

A lot of people seemed to be asking about the chain of command on offense. I think you will see the same situation with the coaches of who's in the box and who's on the field again this year. Dixon substitutes and communicates real well face to face with the players. I would say he did a great job in the spring with the tight ends and that could emerge as a surprise position this fall for UF. I talk to a lot of people who have the feeling that Dixon is not being treated fairly but a new coach took over and kept him on staff and actually gave him a title that could help him in his career if he chooses to move up . In my opinion I think Zook did him and Odom a favor in that any new coach would have come in and brought in his own nine assistants. If Mike Leach were to get the Florida job, I am pretty confident all nine of his assistants from Texas Tech would be hired. Coach Dixon has done a great job and carries himself with a lot of class and again he is an asset to this coaching staff.

What's your prediction of the SEC baseball tourney - how do you see it unfolding? Who's the favorite? Who's got the best pitching staff? What are the three things the Gators must do to win it all?

I like Georgia and LSU in the tournament. I think they have enough pitching and have played the best over the last half of the season. LSU will obviously be a factor because this is Tiger Time. South Carolina also hits with the most power and has good pitching as well and Ole Miss could pitch there way deep into the tournament. I don't think the Gators have enough pitching to win the SEC tournament. This is a tough tournament to win, maybe tougher than a regional because every team is good and ranked in the top 30 of the RPI. LSU's the favorite because they are always tough in the postseason. Alabama has the best starting pitching but they will not be in the tournament so I would give my vote to Ole Miss with Holliman and Head and company. The three things the Gators must do to win the SEC tournament:  1.Get six innings out of their starting pitching. When UF gets six innings they are 16-4 and that includes Friday night's heartbreaking loss. 2.They must win the first two games. It appears they may play at 10am on Wednesday so a loss in the opener will just make it impossible to win this event. 3. They must create big innings when they present themselves. I think the offense has to get going and the Gators need to start getting hits with runners on base.

Is discipline a problem for Zook?

I don't believe it is a problem for him. And the reason I say that is would you recruit Joe Cohen? or Channing Crowder? The prior staff recruited Mo Mitchell when he was in high school. These kids are not bad kids, they just have either used poor judgment or they have not acclimated to college life properly.  You look at the past few National Champions and LSU, USC and Ohio St. have all had off the field problems. I think Zook handles each case on it' s own merits and then administers the discipline. In this day and age of football, I think a lot of people will point to the problems and make more out of them when you are not reaching expectations on the field. If Zook cannot reach his expectations the perception will be his players were not disciplined properly. One thing to remember is last season alone UF suspended Crowder, Harris, McCray, Fason (could only play on special teams vs Ole Miss) and did not allow Guss Scott or Keiwan Ratliff to start in the Bowl game. These are just a few of the discipline actions handed down by Zook over the past season. There has been others, but the fact remains he needs to win games and the kids need to grow up. The Joe Cohen situation which became public this past weekend is a perfect example of how the media will join separate situations together. The article referenced Cohen's brush with the law in the same column as Crowder's. Cohen's situation happened over a month ago and he has been disciplined.  I think at some point and time athletes need to take accountability for themselves and police themselves, and if Zook's players don't start doing this for him they may put him in a tenuous situation.

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