Ask Ack: August 11, 2004

In this week's edition of Ask Ack, I answer questions about the instant replay system the Big Ten is using, the shuffling of offensive linemen to different positions the last two years, the talent level of this year's wide receiver corp compared to some of Coach Spurrier's better units and more!

The head of the SEC officials seems to be in favor of a limited use of instant replay; Nick Saban on the ESPN preseason show said the same thing (e.g. on televised games, used only by a replay ref in the booth.). Is there anything to this?

The Big Ten is using instant replay this season in all home venues. This means visiting non conference teams who go into a Big Ten school can veto the use of instant replay if they want to. It is highly unlikely that anyone will because usually visiting teams from conferences like the MAC don't use there officials in Big Ten stadiums. The down side to this plan is that there will not be as many camera angles as there are in a nationally televised game or an NFL game, for instance. This may cause some problems with trying to identify who has the ball, if the person fumbled etc. The good thing I think the Big Ten is doing is having another "official" in the booth during the game and he can stop the game to take a look at a close call and possibly over rule it . I like this because many times at home or in the press box we can see the blown call but if the coaches do not challenge it or it is not 100% clear to them, it may not get over turned. The Big Ten has had some really bad calls in their conference the last couple of years and Joe Paterno will tell you all of them went against him. I think it is a good idea and I look forward to doing a UCF game at Big Ten team Penn St. in September to see exactly how they do it.

I appreciate your work, thanks a lot for your insight. A lot of times the word "nasty" is thrown around in reference to guys on the O-Line and D-Line. For instance, some in the NFL were a little worried that Max Starks was not nasty enough. What exactly do you mean by this?

Nasty is a characteristic some guys get because they are willing to take on an attitude while playing in the trenches. Guys who are nasty play hurt, banged up and always play to the whistle. It also goes hand in hand with there personality off the field. Some guys just look "nasty" and talk tough and that fires up line coaches. I think Max Starks reminds me a lot of Kevin Carter who was a freshman when I was a senior. They both were well spoken, excellent student athletes and because of this many people at the next level will label them a little soft. This is unfortunate however because from a college perspective they are the consummate student athletes. I don't look at Max's play and think of him as "nasty". However, Kevin Carter has had a nice NFL career that included a Super Bowl with the same stigma over him. Here is one thing Max Starks can do to ditch the label -- when a top NFL End works him over or takes a cheap shot at  him, Max needs to fight back. It's ok to get in a scrap once in awhile in the NFL.

Florida seems to have the only offensive line coach in the country with the philosophy that many if not all of the lineman need to be cross trained at 2-4 different line positions. Every great line I've ever seen, pro and college, has prospered on the continuity and chemistry developed by the same five guys playing the same positions for as many snaps as possible during the season...including those super Gator lines in the mid 90's. I know some of this has to do with the lack of talent at certain positions but it seems to go deeper than that with Wickline. Is this the prime reason our offensive line seems to under perform and has so much trouble with certain blocking schemes and creating space on critical third and fourth and short plays?

I have always thought if you can line the same five guys up at the same positions for an entire season you have the best chance to be successful on the offensive line. I think there are some circumstances for which Wickline has cross trained his guys. The first year it was just a bad chemistry with the new system and the personnel. I think they only had six guys who could play and two of them played center. Last season UF started with what they thought was their best offensive line with Max Starks inside and Washington outside. After the Miami game Washington was undressed and UF ended up moving Starks back to tackle. This season injuries are the only thing that can keep this unit from having some consistency. For example, if Washington's knee bothers him enough to render him ineffective and Colon's back goes out, then I could see a kid like Butler moving out and Mitchell/Rissler going inside or Butler going to right tackle and Hand to Left Tackle. It is very hard to keep your first five healthy the entire season and with the infusion of a strong offensive line class in recruiting from last year I think you will see less and less reshuffling in the future. UF had a low number of offensive lineman sign and get on campus in the early part of this decade and it takes time to get a class like UF got last season.

The times for Carlos Perez at the NFL combine sort of surprised me. How much faster are our current WR's than last years corps and how do they compare to some of Spurrier's best/fastest WR's?

Carlos Perez was much faster before he suffered his leg injury his junior year during the South Carolina game. You have to feel for Carlos because in my opinion he was really developing at a high level and I don't think he ever returned to that level his senior year. He was obviously fast enough to get behind LSU's vaunted secondary and run away from Georgia's but most of that was set up either by play action or great blocks and scheme on the perimeter. The NFL will always time you a half second slower and Carlos plays a bit faster than he times. This year's corps is very fast. I don't think there will ever be a better combo than Quezzy, Reidel and Ike for speed. Caldwell, Baker and Cornelius are pretty good and Jackson, Lewis and McIntosh can all motor. This group of receivers is as talented and deep as any in the mid 90's.

The Gator Basketball team has two players on the Wooden List. Which one do you think has the best chance to win it? I know it's a longshot, but of the two who would you put a dollar on?

I wouldn't put  a dollar on one or the other these days but I would put a burger on Anthony Roberson. A Rob will dominate the SEC this season for a variety of reasons. First, I think Abukar could develop the kind of perimeter game that will spread some teams out with him and Walsh. I like Roberson on the pick and roll with Lee if he is at the four this season. They used this some down the stretch in the SEC tournament and Roberson had open three looks all day. Lee is going to have a solid year but he must commit himself to the offensive glass when he is not shooting the rock. Roberson will improve defensively because of the addition of Larry Shyatt to the coaching staff. Matt Walsh is not on the list but every team would love to have him. My burger is on Roberson.

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