Ask Ack: July 12, 2004

In this week's edition of Ask Ack, I answer questions about UF's defensive scheme, the freedom Chris Leak will have this year to audible, who some of the stronger players on the team are, whether I think Channing Crowder and Jarvis Herring will play in the first two games of the year and more!

Which one player that has not been an All-American in college before do you think will make the list this year?  Also, the same question but change All-American to All-SEC?

I think Carnell Williams will finish as a first team All American this season. He has been on some preseason lists but I think if he can stay completely healthy he should flourish in new coordinator Al Borges' offense. Another guy at running back could be Walter Reyes at Syracuse. I saw him in person last season and he is a terrific running back.

As for Florida, one guy who could emerge as some sort of All American is Andre Caldwell. He could get enough big plays at receiver to sneak in there this season. I think it's a thin  year for top names at the receiver position, especially if Mike Williams does not get back in at USC. After Braylon Edwards and Mark Clayton it is a wide open race.

As for All SEC, look for one of the defensive tackles -- Ray McDonald or Marcus Thomas -- to make the list possibly. Ciatrick Fason could end up on an SEC All Conference team if  he get 20 touches per game as a combination of runs and receptions. For the record the three most likely All Americans are Chris Leak, Channing Crowder and Mike Degory.

Hey Brady, Can you cover a few basics of football for me? Namely, could you go over the responsibilities of both the weak side (will) linebacker and that of the strong side (sam) linebacker?  What are their responsibilities in pass coverage and against the run, etc?  What's the prototypical player for each - e.g. is the weakside LB quicker and does he blitz more...and the sam linebacker is bigger / stronger because he has to take on the TE? What sort of wrinkles, if any, will we see from the gator defense this year when it comes to the play of the LB? Thanks.

Thanks for the question and I would love to dissect the linebacker responsibilities but that would take up the whole message board. I will give you an idea of how UF uses there personnel, however. First, all linebackers have different responsibilities based on formation, defensive play call, the offensive play and down and distance. Most times coaches give linebackers "gap" assignment and if they read run that is there "hole". If it is a pass and a zone coverage is called they could drop to the flat or the curl. The "sam" linebacker is on the strong side head up on the television. The "will" is the weakside linebacker playing off a slot receiver and/or the left tackle.

In UF's defense these positions can be very interchangeable. The "sam" most of the time is used to tie up the tight end and fit for the run. The "will" is more of an aggressive attacking weapon in the defensive calls. Notice that Crowder played will last year and the athletic Earl Everett is scheduled to start there this season. The bottom line for all linebackers is that you would like all of them to be fast and athletic so they can redirect on bootlegs and counter run plays but also be physical enough to tie up the running game.

If there is one added wrinkle this year for UF's defense it will be the "run-blitz" on first down. By having Crowder at the middle you can attack the Tennessee's and LSU's on first down by freeing up Crowder at the line of scrimmage on the snap. I expect to see Channing bringing heat more on run down situations this season.

Ack, I have a question concerning on the field  signal calling by the players.  Assuming Leak will be given the authority to audible more plays this year, do the audible signals remain the same all the time or do they change during the game.   I.E.  perhaps the defense will pick up the signals after hearing and seeing the results a couple of times. Also how does this apply to the defense?  I know a designated individual signs in the defensive coverage from the side line.  Does this remain the same all game?  I remember SOS covered his mouth when he gave the offense signals.  I often wondered did the arm signals remain the same or change during the game. Always enjoy your well thought out answers.

Thank you for the kind words and  I do think you will see more audibling with Chris Leak this season. You look at the maturation of great quarterbacks in college and this is the natural progression for them. Start them very simple as freshman, then give them a either or check as a sophomore, maybe even give them their own series if they played a lot as freshman. By the junior year you allow them to check out of any play to a better play and off you go. Leak will be able to audible in the either or situation. What happens is he is given two plays at the line and he can call the best one for the defense he sees. He also may be given some series in the first two games to see how he handles it . The luxury of the either or situation is Leak is running a play he is confident in and doing that gives the play a chance to be successful.

Last season UF would signal the checks from the sideline (that will continue as well) and Leak would run the play. The quicker he can show the staff he can see the defense the less you will see of this. The signals don't change in the game but they might change during a season. You try to work in three game increments. If you are changing you signals you want to do it every fourth game. Most teams scout and get tendencies in the three most recent games. Now UF and FSU will have all ten games broken down when they play. But the indicator of what they may do against each other will be the three games played prior to the match up.

Spurrier loved hand signals and they did start changing them during the Wuerffel era but for the most part they were the same for twelve seasons. He even took them to the NFL where he was allowed to talk into the helmet of the quarterback right before the play. Spurrier often covered his mouth in the NFL because people at that level could read his lips or the wind was blowing into the mike and his play calling was so in depth that he wanted to make sure the quarterback could hear him.

Defensive signals don't change much and what a lot of teams do is give defensive players wrist bands and signal in the plays by numbers so the guys look to the sideline get the number and look at the call on their wrists.

Does UF list the best bench press or other lifts for its football players? If so who are some of the stronger players?
--Tifton 6

Florida does not make it public knowledge on the bench press of it's players. As for some of the stronger players on the team they would be Mike Degory, Mo Mitchell, Joe Cohen, Channing Crowder, Deshawn Wynn and Marcus Thomas to name a few. UF looks to get guys into certain areas of strength. For example they want to get all their line of scrimmage guys to the 400lb bench. Some of the younger players came in very strong as well. UF uses the 225lb bench press to equate a one press bench limit. For instance if you bench press 225lbs 15 times that is the equivalent to a max of 325lbs.

Brady, to continue the question about the defensive ends, is this staff teaching more technique? It seems that the DE's try to get around the corner every time and if they don't make it, they get tied up by the tackles.

Florida does teach technique with it's defensive ends. You must have good technique on each and every play and it can change from play to play based on the defensive scheme called and the play run by the offense. UF likes speed and most of the time they want their guys to get up the field and "squeeze" the pocket. LSU is a different style defense because they have a big front four where the may read then react more at end; UF has guys responsible for gaps and is looking to create pressure. Technique begins from stance to staying low out of the stance to taking on a counter block with the proper shoulder. Sometimes ends look like they are running themselves out of a play but it depends who has what gap and if the linebacker is where he is supposed to be. UF's ends can play better this season and I know coordinator Charlie Strong is excited with the numbers and the strengths of each guy.

Brady, is Channing Crowder going to play in the first two games or just start his season versus Tennessee?

There has been no official word on what, if any, penalty Channing Crowder and Jarvis Herring  will receive for their incident outside the Palace night club in Gainesville. I think both guys will miss the Middle Tennessee game. Based on the information I have heard from the incident this seems like a fair penalty and one I think the University would be in agreement with. If this is the case, UF would be in a lot of nickel anyway against the Blue Raiders but expect to see Todd McCollough and Terrence Holmes on the field a lot.

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