1. The Wide Receiver Chart- Dallas Baker, Andre Caldwell, and O.J. Small seem locked into the top three spots, but after that the fourth receiver is literally up for grabs. Chad Jackson, Reggie Lewis and Jemalle Cornelius all had an above average spring session. Lewis gave everyone a taste of what he could do in the orange and blue game catching 7 balls for 109 yards, but Gator nation knows that Jackson and Cornelius are no slouches either. Zook recently mentioned that both Jackson and Cornelius were amongst the team's fastest athletes.
2. Slot Machine- O.J. Small sat out the spring and will have fall practice to showcase what he can bring to the table. Small brings plenty of leadership to the young WR corp. and how he plays in the slot could be crucial to moving the chains this year on third down passing situations. As far as match ups go, I would take Small over any nickel back in the Southeastern Conference any Saturday on the calendar.
3. The Blind Side Protector- Coach Wickline will have a good battle to watch at the left tackle spot as senior's Tavares Washington and Jon Colon will be healthy and ready to compete for the job. Colon has been injury prone throughout his Gator tenure, most recently sitting out the spring with back and knee injuries. If healthy, Colon could have a solid senior year.
4. C-4 Fatigue- Ciatrick Fason is poised to explode on the SEC and everyone is well aware of it as he was named to the preseason third-team all-sec offense. Fason is downright dangerous outside of the tackles especially when catching the screen, but there were certain times last year (South Carolina and Arkansas) that he was too tired to stay in the game. Fason has been extremely dedicated in summer workouts and by showing his new found strength in the fall, he could be well on his way to his desired 1200 yards.
5. Mark(ell) it Down- One of the best battles to watch in the spring was the ongoing verbal and physical match between Markell Thompson and Channing Crowder. Since arriving in Gainesville Markell has dropped plenty of weight off his 6'7 inch frame and has consistently been amongst the first guys out at practice. If Thompson can improve his blocking and thrive off the play action, he could prove valuable come September 4th.
On the Defense
1. Depth is the Word- Everyone knows the depth chart at LB is paper thin so it will be crucial to note the development of Brandon Siler, E-Stop, Rich Brown and even Eric Rutledge. Zook said recently Todd McCullough was running at 100% which is huge for a defense that could use plenty of leadership. If Siler can pick up the defensive packages, then he could easily see the field much like Earl Everett did last year.
2. King of the Hill- While Dee Webb has been the talk of the town, and rightfully so, it will be Reynaldo Hill that everyone will be counting on to shutdown Wide Receivers come fall. Can Hill become the shutdown corner with his great recovery speed? How well will he do against bigger targets? Watching how he progresses in the fall will be essential to how prepared he will be come Middle Tennessee.
3. Hot Tamale- It goes without saying that Cory Bailey is and should be the starter come fall practice. He is one of the most vocal leaders in the defense, and the most experienced guy in this year's secondary. However, not enough can be said about the emergence of Terrance Holmes in the spring. Hot Tamale showed his knack for not only being a ball hawk, but his efficiency in laying down the hits (See Andre Caldwell's Orange and Blue game). If he is going to make a move for more playing time and possibly starting, it will be in the month of August.
4. Book(end) It- Steven Harris and Tree Morant. Jeremy Mincey and Joe Cohen. Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey. The Gators enter August with a great puzzle to be solved! Too much talent at one position. Tree and Steven finished the spring as starters, but there has been plenty of clamoring about the emergence of J-Co and Mincey; especially since Zook mentioned both of them amongst those standing out on the defense. This, along with the receiver situation, is one of the situations that all Gator fans should monitor.
5. Middle Man- After one year together jelling, Ray Macdonald and Marcus Thomas are poised to conquer SEC offensive lines. When Marcus went down in the spring, he told me without a doubt he would be ready for fall so it will be interesting to see how his ankle and hernia hold up in contact practice. Along with Travis Harris, Ray Macdonald has been one of the leaders in the weight room this summer and dividends should pay out come crunch time.
When fall practice comes to a close, I will take a look back at these questions and answer how each of them did. Stay with www.gatorcountry.com for daily practice reports and photo galleries of fall practice.