I think this is the million dollar question. Many kids are ready to play each and every week. But some players incur off the field pressures which may range from personal to academics. I think how a kid practices and how much he respects an opponent reflects his performance. Things come easy for many great players in high school but when you get to college you must focus that much more. Practice is tougher, schemes are more difficult to understand and by the way, school is much more demanding. I am not sure I have the answer but I agree you only have 48 games to get psyched up ready to play in your career and everyone should be ready every week.
Brady, our dline is so young and fast, but they are also undersized. Ray and Thomas are both about 285. What is going to happen when we go against teams with big olines and they just try to pound the ball on us. With Cohen and Mincey on the edges who do you see being our 5th dline member when we go to a 5-2 defense to stop the run.
I think you are in the ball game against run teams. I think you will see Travis Harris up on the line of scrimmage with two linebackers in the box. The defensive tackles are good size and both are much stronger than last year. If both guys are disciplined and play their technique they will cause some problems for offenses. Ian Scott played very well under 300 and Ellis Johnson was the same way. I think the key will be the guy who can occupy two defenders the best. This will allow Crowder to make a bunch of plays. College ends can be smallish but Joe Cohen is much stronger and bigger than most of the defensive ends UF has had in recent years. I think short yardage defense could include Thomas, McDonald, Morant and the two defensive ends. Stephen Harris could be in the mix on short yardage, five man line schemes as well.
Brady, all of our wide outs have been playing good. But what happens when we play a 5 WR set. Jackson or Lewis is going to get left out. Who do you see winning our 5th spot out of those two?
Lewis has been in the lead for the fifth spot all camp long. With his illness, however, it has allowed Jackson to get into the mix. The one problem is Lewis plays inside and Jackson has been more comfortable lining up outside. Baker, Small, Lewis, Caldwell and Cornelius have been the five wide set. I see this team using more four receiver sets with OJ Small at tight end or the "Y" spot than any in the offense.
Ack, what is the deal with Taurean Charles? He is at practice all the time and enrolled for fall classes. Is there some secret deal with the university where he shows support for his team, and does some serious community service, where he can re-join the team at a later point?
How do the "blitz packages" look this year? Defensive blitzing and offense - i.e. picking up/countering the blitz.
I believe Taurean is holding out hopes of being reinstated to the team. Because his situation is so unique there has been no rush to announce anything formal until it is resolved. Charles was suspended indefinitely by Jeremy Foley and I will be surprised if he is back on the team. UF has shown little blitz packages during the scrimmages. They have worked on them in camp and they include a variety of run blitzes with Channing Crowder. I think this team will hold back on blitzing until it gets confidence with the secondary. Look for "token" pressure to come from the outside and with the strong safety. The offensive line is doing a great job communicating. This line has a chance to be real good, especially at run blocking.
Brady, what's your assessment of 'Camp Zook'? Are there areas of concern that need to be addressed in the coming weeks to get the team ready/fully prepared for the 2004 campaign? Any surprises? Anyone that you didn't "expect" that has caught your eye? What's your take on team chemistry and attitude?
I think this has been a very stellar fall camp. Things have gone efficiently and smoothly. The first thing you want is your team healthy and for the most part camp ended with just minor injuries. The second thing you want is your offense and defense to experience success. By having the major scrimmages be number one's vs number two's you saw the starters separate themselves from the backups. The major concerns are depth at left tackle, linebacker and secondary. Every other position has capable backups with very good starters. As for surprises I would say how talented this recruiting class is. If this is the seventh best class in the country or wherever they were ranked, then I would like to see the number one class. I think this team has the right attitude and chemistry with some concerns. It is a team that needs to feel like it is very good and go prove it.
Brady, what do you think of Tennessee possibly starting a freshman at quarterback?
I will be a little surprised if they do go through with it but I certainly understand the landscape of college football today. If you have seniors who have not played a lot because they were not very good it is better to go with young guys as quick as possible. The quarterback position is required to do more and more now than ever before. In the early 80's everything ran through the tailback and how he went is how well your team did. Now you must have a quarterback who can help you win and in some cases make enough plays to help you win. I also think it gives Fulmer a bit of an "out" if he loses to Florida. It is an interesting choice by Fulmer to open up the battle right away.
Brady, why is the basketball team going to the Bahamas?
Many teams take a trip over seas to work on team bonding and get extra practice time together. This is an interesting choice by Donovan in that he waited till school started so his incoming freshman could be a part of the trip over Labor Day weekend. The smart move allows Florida to have ten practices in September before returning for the official beginning of fall practice on October 15. I believe it will be all about the defense and working on a new style of defense with new assistant coach Larry Shyatt. Look for Donovan's team to be in better shape and ahead of schedule on Oct 15th.