Ack's Insights: July 2, 2004

In this week's edition read about how the incoming freshmen have looked during the first week of Summer B, a possible second coming of Lito Shephard, who from the football team will be joining Ron Zook in Birmingham for the SEC Media Days and much more!

Florida's freshman have been on or around campus for over a week now and they are going through many different adjustments in their life. Each guy will take a minimum of six hours of classes during the B term which is usually two classes three days a week. They also come in with very little work in the Gator strength and conditioning program. Athletes have had workouts since signing day but the real work began this past week. The first thing the strength staff must do is establish a bottom line for this class with their testing numbers in various areas then develop a program to improve their strength.  It is always difficult for an incoming freshman to be physically developed enough to help right away and it generally takes lineman and linebackers time to get the proper numbers. Some kids do report to camp with great size and strength. Freshman not only went through orientation last week but are required to go to various symposiums on drinking and campus life.

Snippets and Tidbits...
Speaking of freshman, Mike Mangold and Eric Rutledge are on campus and in class at Florida. It was reported last week that they were ruled ineligible, but the report failed to mention the kids were awaiting final results of test scores before being ruled ineligible. It is a good sign that each kid is on campus and would not surprise me if one or both will be eligible come fall camp.

I have often mentioned Javier Estopinan as a kid I think can play this fall and he reported in at 240lbs. He will look to work some of this into shape but he has displayed good size and strength in the first week.

One player to keep your eye on is linebacker Brandon Siler. On the "hoof" he looks like the most ready to play freshman of the entire class. Siler is in at 220 and already can bench around 350lbs.

Drew Miller showed up on campus with good size at almost 300lbs and he is probably the strongest incoming freshman.

Finally, Marcus Manson is looking to be everything he was cracked up to be. He has good size and strength and apparently had a eye popping vertical jump. This is a good sign for a running back because the vertical is a good measure of explosiveness.

Could there be a second coming of Lito Shephard? Lamont Shephard, a defensive back from talent rich program Jacksonville Raines, has been cleared to walk on at Florida. And oh yes, he is the cousin of the former Gator All American.

Lito Shephard and Bam Hardman, two former Gators, were working out this week in the UF weight room. Lito expects to start for the Philadelphia Eagles at corner this season, while Bam will now go to camp with the Seattle Seahawks.

The final Gator football camp is July 11th for rising seniors. I expect to see a ton of top talent from around the south on campus for Ron Zook and his staff.  Zook will be heading to Birmingham, Alabama on July 27th for his annual appearance at the SEC Media Days. Some media members may be disappointed to find out he is not bringing Chris Leak. He will, however, bring three year starter and team leader center Mike Degory, as well as senior Travis Harris. Degory will get a lot of mention for All SEC with Ben Wilkerson being the favorite from LSU but don't be surprised if Harris has an All Conference type year as well.

Last year at the SEC Media days the hot topic around Florida was the mix up on the Gator Media Guide cover. The Media guide is soon to be completed and won't have a crocodile on the cover either. This could be the last year for super sized media guides with loads of information. The NCAA will most likely limit all media guides to 200 pages maximum next season. I expect this year's media guide will have more shots of the stadium, and some sort of historical look of Gator Football.

This and That...
We talked about how important third down percentage is for the offense during spring practice. While teams set goals, hoping to reach close to them, UF will attempt to convert 45% of it's third down opportunities. A successful season will include a 40% number. Most coaches would like to convert 33% of 3rd and long's, 70% of 3rd and medium's and 90% of 3rd and short's .

We talk about two minute and no huddle offense but there is another important phase to UF's offense that will have to be ready this fall. It's the four minute offense. It was successful in finishing off wins over LSU and South Carolina but not so successful in games like Arkansas. The "four minute" offense is a phase in which the coaches preach to kids to stay in bounds. They want quarterbacks to milk the clock and backs to hang onto the football. They also get in certain formations such as two tight ends and two backs and try to run the clock out. If a team decides to load the box, they then decide if they want to put in a "safe" throw such as a bootleg or delay route. Coaches have charts that tell them how many first downs it takes to run out the clock with less than four minutes to go. The important thing is to continue to reinforce to the offense that they are ahead and need to stay in bounds and move the chains. Ciatrick Fason busted a long run in the four minute offense to seal the deal vs LSU. This offense is very important if UF has a 7-10 point lead late in games.

Stat of the Week: 1. Only one SEC team (Mississippi State with 18) lost more starters than the Florida Gators. UF lost 13, as did Tennessee, which is why many preseason magazines have Georgia picked to win the SEC East again.

Fightin Gators Top Stories