The month of July can be the final hurdle for college football players to jump over when getting ready for the season. With summer throwing sessions going on many players will use this time to refresh their memory on routes, coverages and assignments. One thing this team has during the summer is structure and purpose to the passing sessions. Back in the late 80's and early 90's when I was in school we would basically go out to Florida Field turn on Darrell Woulard's "Boom Box" and play one on one all day. Most of the time it would be a lot of guys joking around and having some fun. From time to time it was competitive but for the most part it was 50-50 at best.
This team under the leadership of Chris Leak and Channing Crowder goes out with a purpose and a goal to it's workouts. There are two reasons for this. Number one, the players have play sheets from the spring and practice sessions that they are using to foster their workouts. For example Spring Practice was 15 days with 15 practice sessions and plays etc. These guys will go through Spring Practice with some wrinkles here and there at least two more times in the summer. The second reason and the most important reason is that the two leaders of the team play the two most important positions. Quarterback and middle linebacker are the play callers and leaders of the offense and defense. They run the drills and they lead the summer workouts.
Two seasons ago, UF had Rex Grossman, in year one who was
still learning the offense, and Ian Scott, who was a defensive lineman, as their
leaders. Last year the leader on offense was probably Carlos Perez or Kelvin Kight and on defense it was corner Keiwan Ratliff. These guys did a great job
but they are not the right guys to lead summer drills. To illustrate this point,
in 1996 Danny Wuerffel and James Bates led the summer drills on campus. There
were a bunch of great leaders on that team but these two played a big part of
the summer success.
Snippets and Tidbits...
UF's basketball team received two verbal commitments from players in Jacksonville. David Huertas at Arlington Country Day and Derwin Kitchen from Raines High School recently made their pledge to Billy Donovan. I like the signing of local players especially from Jacksonville. If the going gets tough, I think these guys are more likely to stick it out rather than transfer (Ryan Appleby and Al Kaleem). Orien Greene who was from Gainesville did leave but I believe more times than not players like Cornelius Ingram, Huertas and Kitchen will develop in the program. Jacksonville has produced such Great Gators as Stacey Poole, Ronnie Montgomery and Udonis Haslem who played High school in Jacksonville but is actually from Miami. The book on Kitchen is he is a heck of an athlete who has Justin Hamilton toughness. He considered Wake Forest, Miami, Georgia and Arkansas.
Tom Ostrom was reunited with John Pelphrey at South Alabama
after moving down with the hiring of Larry Shyatt. Pelphrey actually offered
Ostrom a job a couple of years ago when he got the South Alabama post but Ostrom
remained with Donovan at Florida. Ostrom had been with Billy for the last seven
Freshman continued to acclimate themselves last week in the weight room and some do have some improvements to make:
- Defensive Tackle Michael Brown out of Atlanta, who is a
big time prospect, came in with good size but lacks the upper body strength
right now to contribute. Brown will see significant improvement now that he
is in the college weight program.
- Tate Casey, who is a terrific tight end prospect, could
develop some strength as could Jason Watkins who has a chance to get into the
offensive line rotation this year with a big summer.
- I mentioned the eye popping athletic ability of Marcus Manson in week one and some other guys who showed great explosion with high vertical jumps was wide receiver Mike McIntosh, Defensive End Derrick Harvey, Defensive Back Dawayne Grace, and Safety Tony Joiner.
Jon Colon is doing well this summer and could be a factor
once again when fall camp begins at left tackle. Currently Tavares Washington is
penciled in as the starter but if Colon can stay healthy he would be a nice
caviat for offensive line coach Joe Wickline.
Florida's backfield has been ranked among the top ten in every preseason magazine. I think there is maybe two units in the country that bring what UF brings to the table. In Chris Leak, Ciatrick Fason, Deshaun Wynn and Skyler Thornton the Gators have experience, talent and most of all game breaking ability. I would rate Southern Cal and Oklahoma ahead of UF in my rankings. The Sooners get a slight nod over UF, because they do have the Heisman winner from last year. Southern Cal mirrors UF in a lot of ways. Matt Leinart has a year on Leak but last season he was awesome. Reggie Bush and Ciatrick Fason are similar, LenDale White and Deshaun Wynn are also very similar. Starter Hershel Dennis is solid like Skyler Thornton but he is the starter only because he is a junior. The common thing among both units is stability at quarterback and depth with speed and power at running back.
The Florida-Tennessee game is a big game on September 18th at 8pm in Rocky Top on CBS and will part of a day/night doubleheader with defending National Champion LSU at Auburn at 3:30pm. While Florida coaches are focusing on Middle Tennessee State in the season opener at this time there will be some breakdowns being done on Tennessee during the summer. The first game UF will look over is last year's defensive struggle that ended in a 24-10 loss for the Gators. The difference in the games the last two year has been big plays. Both the 2002 and 2003 games could have gone to the home team but the road teams made bigger plays on offense and conversely those teams were able to get the victory.
Stat of the Week: 146yds. The Gators averaged 146yds rushing per game last season which was only good enough to finish seventh in the conference. UF would like that number near the 165-180 range that would put them near the top three in the conference.