Ask Ack: July 7th, 2004

In this week's "Ask Ack" by Brady Ackerman, he gives the real inside scoop on the Gator's recent recruiting success, pass plays they work on in practice, which unit will make the biggest gains this season, what the coaches are doing in July, which Gator will do best in the NFL, and much more...

What are your thoughts of the Gators recent recruiting success?

I think it is always positive to have top rated recruits commit to your program early. Recruiting has certainly changed over the last five years with the pressure on more kids to make the decision public. I think the good thing about the last five or so guys that committed to UF is that even though it is early it does not appear they were under any pressure. They all camped with UF and had a great experience. I think there is always a chance that you could lose one or two of these guys which is why it is important for Gator coaches to continue to recruit public commitments the same way as those who are undecided. All kids want some attention and when guys commit early the challenge you have is giving them the attention they want and fending off those other schools who are recruiting against you. One reason UF has not had guys go public as much lately is that there has been so much negative recruiting. Florida does not negatively recruit and Ron Zook will not have a coach telling a kid something bad about another school. This has actually worked in UF's favor with some kids because they have remained solid in their selling of the University of Florida. The bottom line is that it is always good when your program is being mentioned positively because top recruits had good visits, camps or weekends at the school. The challenge for UF is taking these recruits and getting to their goals. The new wave of recruiting is early commitments and despite all the criticism Zook and his staff have taken, they have shown they can recruit that way as well this summer.

Do the gators only work on their own pass routes - so the DB's only see Gator plays - or do we break out, say, the Volunteer's playbook once and while so that the DB's can get exposed to someone else's playbook? Thanks, gatorbogey

During the summer the receivers and quarterbacks work the Gator playbook. Most teams run the same complementary routes such as the curl-flat, hitch-corner and steamers. The key for defensive backs is to play well in the man to man portion of summer workouts and then be able to recognize routes in zones. Most teams run the same pass plays generally but how they get to them and when and where the call them is the key to preparation. Gator defensive backs are working on their attack at the line of scrimmage and being able to read receivers in and out of breaks. The zone and team pass generally favors the offense because there is no contact and no pass rush. This is why DB's like the one on one period the most and can get the most effective trash talking in this time. Repetition is important for both sides of the ball and making the plays seem as elementary as writing your name. I don't think the players will know that they are working on Tennessee while they are putting in things during camp. Coaches will put in wrinkles for teams down the road but the focus of the individuals must be on the opponent that week.

Which unit can make the biggest gains in the summer from a learning X and O perspective?

The offense -- especially the receivers. The receivers can get a good working base of the passing game by learning from Chris Leak and the veterans like OJ Small. Each player will react different to pressure and traffic during camp when the time is for real, but they can get the most out of the summer. I think a guy like Chad Jackson who can absorb so much this summer can go from being a fifth guy to a starter if he uses his summer properly. Each day they throw Leak administers new plays and formations that young wide receivers can get a grasp of in the Gator offense.

What are the coaches working on in the month of July after the Rising Senior Camp? Can they talk to recruits or how do they maintain contact?

This week will be the last for any family time and down time for the UF coaching staff. Most of their camp preparation will begin with coaches meeting on practice schedules and depth charts the next few weeks. The coaches will also check on academic progress and keep up to speed on what goes on with their position players. Coaches will be allowed to receive calls from potential recruits as often as those prospects want to call them. For example last week while I was in the office, three recruits in ten minutes called one of the assistant coaches cell phone to chat. This era of recruiting has made it easier for interested recruits to call coaches at places where they are highly recruited. Coaches will continue with the normal recruiting guidelines as for notes, letters and emails. Finally coaches will begin to formulate plans for the first game and when they will install them during fall camp.

In the NFL, do you think Lito Shephard will have the biggest impact of any Gator this season or will it be Fred Taylor?

Don't forget about Jevon Kearse in Philadelphia either. Kearse, if healthy could make Lito's job much easier this season. Lito has worked hard to get in his position and I saw him in the UF weight room this summer and he looks better than ever. He has some big shoes to fill at corner with that pressure defense the Eagles run he will have a lot of opportunities to shine. Fred Taylor is the key to the Jaguars chance at a postseason berth. I think Fred will get less carries but have more big carries for the team this season. He has proven he can stay healthy now he must take it to the Pro Bowl level to take pressure off Byron Leftwich. I think Fred will have a Pro Bowl year and give him a slight edge over Lito.

When Spurrier was the coach, he had a policy not to retire any numbers and even unretired his own number. Does Zook have the same policy and will Spurrier's number be retired again after this season when OJ Small graduates? GatorFan96

I do not believe Zook has given it much thought. I am sure if the Athletic Department wanted to retire a number it could step in and do so but I believe in retiring jerseys not numbers. Spurrier's number still hangs in the stadium and he will always be a legend. I think programs are built by great individuals but those individuals are not bigger than the program or University. These numbers will become popular down the road and even though I think there is a possibility that the University would retire Spurrier's number I don't think Ron Zook has a policy in place one way or the other.

Will Howard Linguard be back with UF this fall? Unknown

I don't think Linguard will be with the Gators in 2004. I have been asked this question before and I believe he is going to move on to other things. He is a talent who needs to find the right place for him and his academic goals.

Which ex-Gator assistant under Spurrier could you see returning to UF as an assistant or even Head Coach? Rgator11

There has been a lot of great assistant coaches through the years at UF under Spurrier. From Jim Bates, to Bobby Stoops, to Rich McGeorge the Gators have had guys that could really get it done with Coach Spurrier. A lot of people think Stoops may return some day and maybe that could happen, but one guy that I feel will be an excellent coordinator some day is Noah Brindise. Brindise is in his first year at East Carolina as the offensive coordinator and I believe his experience with and without Steve Spurrier will make him a terrific coach. He is a good teacher of the quarterback position, he understands the passing game but most importantly he can really see the field. He can teach young players because he sees the field so well from ground level. He may have some tough times in Greenville because of talent but don't be surprised if he does not end up back in Gainesville in some capacity in the future.

Got a question for Ack? Click here to submit it!

Listen to the Brady Ackerman show on Espn Radio at Visit the "Ack" at

Fightin Gators Top Stories