Ask Ack: August 18, 2004

In this week's edition of Ask Ack, I answer questions about Gators in the NFL, what the common fan should look for to see if UF is going to try and block a punt, the purpose of the Oklahoma Drill, which players have quietly been impressive so far this camp and more!

Hey Brady
I was wondering what we know about the contracts that our recently drafted Gators have signed (including Free Agent contracts) and how our guys are doing in their respective camps? Thanks.

Carlos Perez got in the game for Philadelphia and had one catch. He is wearing number 17 and is listed fourth on the depth chart. Kelvin Kight was recently picked up by Green Bay and is scheduled to play Monday night against Seattle. Shannon Snell is playing right guard for the Denver Broncos and should play some on Sunday night. He is listed at third team behind former Gator Cooper Carlisle. Ran Carthon had 4 carries for 14 yards for the Colts and has had a solid camp for Indianapolis. Darrell Lee is wearing number 99 for Dallas who was blasted by the Houston Texans. Lee did not record a tackle but did recover a fumble. Johnny Lamar is playing for Buffalo Sunday night vs Denver, he is listed at third team behind starting right cornerback Nate Clements. Daryl Dixon did not record a tackle for the Colts in Saturday night's opener and is listed as a fourth team free safety.

Hey Brady,
No doubt there will be a lot of attention given to special teams this season. The coaches, fans and hopefully the players too and hopefully they will live up to the intensity the coaches are demanding.  Could you delve into some return and coverage schemes and punt block schemes too - what are the coaches trying to accomplish and is there any nuances that us Gator fan 'laymen' should be made aware of to watch for during the season?  Feel free to diagram a scheme or two to go along w/ the explanations. Thanks.

I am not sure diagramming any of the Gator returns would be beneficial to the Gator program. Here is one thing the casual fan can check for during the season. In SEC games, if a team takes 2.1 seconds or longer to get a punt off the Gators are going to come after it. You can take a stop watch or use your digital watch in pre-game or at home watching the games and see how long the snap to kick is for punters. I would not waste much time on Tennessee because Colquitt is as good as anyone in the country.  Zook has had a lot of success blocking kicks up the middle vs certain protections. He will overload a side vs zone protection and find a whole in the scheme. Man protection is a little tougher but the bottom line is 2.1 seconds. As for the return game, UF returners are the ones that are under the most fire. The key is for the returner to stick to the return called and hit the hole at full speed. One thing that has thrown a wrinkle into set returns the last five years has been the ability of the kickoff team to area kick their kickoffs to one side or the other. Every kickoff return team would love to have a middle kickoff but if the kicker kicks it deep left and you have a opposite return called it can take a long time for the returner to get to the wall.

Is the purpose of the "Oklahoma Drill" just to see who is the toughest player or is there more to it?

The "Oklahoma Drill" is a great first practice drill to set the tone for fall camp. It is a drill that is geared more for the offense in my opinion but the bottom line it helps get your players ready for contact. For the lineman it teaches them to stay low and use leverage. The lowest man wins and that usually is the case when the ball is snapped. For linebackers it is the same drill and they must get lower than the blocker and take them on with the right shoulder for the drill. For running backs who are carrying the ball they learn to make quick decisions by reading the butt of the blocker and getting through the hole quickly. They too must run low or they will get tattooed by the tackling linebacker. The drill has been re-created over the years to use three lineman at a time, to start players on there backs at times but it is mostly one on one contact with coaches looking to find out who is ready to hit at the beginning of practice. My favorite part of the drill in the old days is when Spurrier would make the kickers go against each other. He did this once and it was like a pillow fight but through the years after me guys like Shayne Edge would get in their and mix it up.

How much do the day to day practices effect the overall depth chart? Do the coaches change it daily or weekly?

I don't believe Ron Zook and his staff change the depth chart daily but they will reward a guy who out performs his competition in practice. The key to the depth chart is that everyone has a reason to go out and give his best effort that practice. If a guy feels he has the position wrapped up and is practicing that way you try to light a fire under his tail by lowering him on the chart. If someone has worked very hard and deserves a day with the one's to see how he matches up then you throw him in the fray and give him a shot. This year I think the staff is getting a good look at the two deep because I feel this team is deeper than the last two years. Guys know they must bring there "A" game to camp each and every day.  I would guess there are as many as four to five positions on each side of the ball that could have different starters opening day than the open of camp. I am not saying I anticipate that happening but I could definitely see some guys winning spots from the second position on the depth chart. The quarterbacks are charted daily and there progress is looked at over a period of practices and scrimmages.

Jarvis Moss is a tremendous talent who could be a force if he could gain weight. Why can't he gain weight and is defensive coordinator Charlie Strong finding ways to use him to get him on the field?

Moss is a tremendous talent and you are right he has encountered some issues with gaining weight. He was further ahead of schedule when he had some family issues that caused him to lose some weight but he is working hard. He has a high metabolism and much like former Gators Jevon Kearse, Fee Bartley and Alex Brown, Moss will probably weigh the most when he gets to the NFL. The key for Moss is to maintain strength. In college football, you can play lighter if you have strength and quickness. I don't see Moss as a three down guy this season but more of a specialty guy. Obviously Moss can play in passing situations but look for Strong to incorporate him in some dime situations with his old Carolina style defense. Moss can be either a zone guy in the "zone blitz" scheme or a outside linebacker rush type guy in a 3-3 dime scheme. Either way I think the coaches are looking at packages that accentuate his talents.

Is anyone quietly going about his work and are there any first week surprises?

I think Ciatrick Fason and OJ Small are going about there camps very impressively and with good effort. I am convinced if the season began today these guys are ready to go without any more work. On defense I like Ray McDonald's effort day in and out and Earl Everett is becoming a more polished savvy linebacker. A lot of freshman are looking good but tight end Dane Guthrie out of Miami could be the surprise of the week. He has shown great toughness and good route running skills that have him competing for playing time at tight end. I think this is a bit of a surprise considering how well Thompson and Kenner played in the spring but I do think the plan all along was to play at least one of the freshman tight ends.

Does Florida have a free safety or a strong safety position?

Florida's safety positions, as are the corner positions, can be interchangeable. There is a scheme which Florida likes to employ that puts the tougher run safety (strong) on run support as well as the corner. It takes a lot of experience to play this defense and it is one that Zook brought with him from New Orleans and Guss Scott was really good at it. The fact is that both safety spots and both corner spots can be interchangeable if UF needs them so that they can get their best two on the field. Jarvis Herring would be a free safety most time (Daryl Dixon) while Cory Bailey/Terrence Holmes would be the Strong Safety (Guss Scott). With Herring out the first game I expect UF to try to get both guys on the field in safety spots. This philosophy is essentially the same for both outside linebacker spots too and helps teams keep there best personnel on the field in all situations.

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