Ack's Insights: June 16, 2004

In this edition of Ack's Insights, I discuss the Gator baseball team's performance in Coral Gables, Ron Zook's football camps, what Channing Crowder is doing this summer, a possible change in philosophy for the Gator secondary and more!

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Florida concluded it's baseball season this past weekend with a familiar ending to the same story. The Miami Hurricanes, who finished the regular season number one in the country, knocked the Gators out of the NCAA's for the third straight year and the eighth time in school history. UF gave game one away and it ended up costing them as the Canes ace Carillo was just too good. I don't think the NCAA should force Florida and Miami to play for a right to go to Omaha every year.

The SEC is the best conference in baseball and UF was on top of the league with two weekends to go. Miami was a top five team all season and played there last 26 games in a row at home including the regionals. The fact that FSU got a regional over Florida may have had to do with the Noles finish to the season but also the fact that the committee made sure there were no super regionals with SEC matchups. If Miami had been the number two overall seed the Gators would have played third seeded South Carolina (they were the #2 seed) in the Super Regionals. Maybe the committee got the super regionals right as far as the SEC distribution was concerned but now it's time for the sixth and seventh teams in the SEC to be sent out West and to the Midwest if so to qualify for Omaha.

There should  be no  reason not to have three Florida regionals. The south and the state of Florida in particular has the best baseball prospects in the country. Why not have all three teams in Omaha? It's not like the rating will be any higher because Arizona is in the series.  UF may have played it's way into a national #14 seed and a date with #3 Miami in the Super Regional. The Gators were alone at the top of the SEC before ending the season with five losses in six games. The Gators certainly would not have had to go through Miami where the Canes are 78-11 in the postseason if they could have hung on and won the SEC East.

Snippets and Tidbits...
Football Camps have been going on the past week at UF's campus and many possible high school recruits have made there way to Gainesville. Camp is set up to have three practices per day with classroom time, weight room time and free time mixed in. The night practice is usually the one that is the most fun for campers as they play "Gatorball" against one another to showcase their skills.

The Gator coaches will hold the second annual Gator Woman's clinic this Saturday. I have sent an inside source to ask the tough questions (my wife).

More on the baseball team from last weekend. The Gators were 21-5 when the starters go into the sixth inning. Both pitchers went into the seventh inning and the Gators lost two heartbreakers. Ben Harrison finished his career with a sixteen game hitting streak but his last at bat was very "un-ben" like. The Gators have reached 43 wins two of Pat McMahon's three seasons. UF only has nine other seasons in their history with 43 or more wins. Going into the first game of the series the Gators had been fielding at a .970 clip then committed 5 errors for six unearned runs. The loss in game two for Florida bucked a trend of the Gators success when scoring first. Florida was 27-4 when scoring first before losing 3-1 to Miami in the clincher. One final stat that did not go in the Gators favor was their record when trailing after eight innings. UF finished the season 1-17 when trailing after eight innings.

This and That...
The word is Channing Crowder cannot be seen anywhere after dark in Gainesville this summer. He is staying in his apartment and walking a very straight line.

Don't be surprised if the Gator secondary guys play more man to man this season than in 2003 with four senior starters. UF defensive backs have some qualities that may make them better man players than sitting in the zone. For one they are more physical at the line of scrimmage. New secondary coach Dan Disch brings a physical mind-set to the secondary and his phrase "get your work done at the line of scrimmage" is the key that frustrates wide receivers. Dee Webb is more physical than Ratliff and Lamar while Reynaldo Hill could be more physical, but is faster out of his backpedal than both Ratliff and Lamar. These traits could bode well for UF using more man and creating pressure in their front seven. The one negative that hurts them in zone is experience. Keiwan Ratliff set the UF record last year "cheating" in zone coverage because of his athletic ability and football IQ.

The preseason magazines are out on the racks and Sporting News say UF has the 12th best offensive coordinator in the SEC. Let me go into defensive mode -- Randy Sanders has done nothing to show me he can be any type of offensive mastermind and Lou Holtz has no idea what kind of offense he wants to run. Al Borges at Auburn will not be able to throw the ball, Ron Hudson at Kentucky does not have much talent and Woody McCorvey has been a "recruiting" assistant for fourteen years. People forget that the last time Larry Fedora was calling plays, Middle Tennessee State finished fifth in the country in total offense in 2001. Middle Tennessee is UF‘s first opponent and in 2001 they played Ole Miss, LSU and they won at Vanderbilt. Fedora is easily one of the five best coordinators in the conference and I think the list is an indication of why there has been an offensive drop off in the conference the last three years. There are more high profile defensive coordinators in the SEC than offensive guru's.

Stat of the Week: 43. The number of offensive school records broken at Middle Tennessee State with Larry Fedora as offensive coordinator.

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