McLeod's short takes: Early preview for 2005

Florida's opening day opponent for the 2005 season, Wyoming, dusted off UCLA in the waning moments of Thursday night's Las Vegas Bowl game. Trailing, 21-10, the Cowboys scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns, including the game winning score with 57 seconds remaining to secure a 24-21 victory. The victory marked Wyoming's first ever bowl win.

The game was a scouting report of what to expect on opening day, 2005, and what made it especially interesting is that the 'Boys return just about everybody. Quarterback Corey Bramlet (6-4, 218) is a junior. He completed 20 of 34 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns. Bramlet finished third to Utah's Alex Smith and BYU's John Beck in passing, pass efficiency, and total offense in the Mountain West Conference.

The Wyoming quarterback struggled against Urban Meyer's Utah team on November 13. He completed 17 of 28 for 278 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also ran for two scores against the Utes. However, much of his damage was done in the fourth quarter after the Utes had built a 45-14 lead.

Junior wide receiver Jovon Bouknight (6-1, 190) had a solid showing versus the Bruins. He hauled in five passes for 107 yards. He also threw a 22-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter on a trick play. He was very successful against the Utes, catching six receptions for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Bouknight has caught 173 passes as a three year starter for the Cowboys. He will receive some pre-season acclaim, although I doubt he'll generate more than honorable mention All-America status.

Wyoming used three running backs, two juniors and a sophomore. The running game was stuffed by a Bruins defense that entered the contest ranked #111 nationally. In all, the Cowboys return 10 of 11 starters offensively. There were also only two seniors among the reserves.

Defensively, Wyoming will only have top replace three starters, which includes a pair of linebackers and a defensive tackle. There was only one other senior among the two-deep. Wyoming Coach Joe Glenn and his staff will look to improve a defense that gave up 28 points per game and finished next to last in the MWC in total defense. Sophomore free safety John Wendling led the team in stops with 57.

Meyer's Utes demonstrated tremendous balance in their victory over the Cowboys in November. Smith passed for 244 yards and the Utah running attack accounted for 244 yards on 42 carries, a 5.7 yard average.

Former Florida signee…

Marcus Baker spoke last week. A late addition to the 2004 Florida signing class who was unable to enroll at UF, Baker is presently enrolled at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville. Baker told me that he is looking at three schools, South Florida, Central Florida, and Bethune-Cookman. The Bulls and Knights are especially eager for him to transfer in January, so that he can participate in spring drills. He said that his plan was to remain at Santa Fe through the spring and transfer. My guess is that Baker will end up in Daytona Beach with the Wildcats.

Just in time for Brrrrbaseball

As low temperatures across north central Florida vary from the 20's to the 40's, we received word that the Florida baseball team will begin the season at #22 in the inaugural 2005 Collegiate Baseball Poll. Coach Pat McMahon returns six starters and will look to 17 new additions to bolster the squad.

The Gators kick off the season with a three game set against Charleston Southern on February 11-13. Bring your blankets and petition the UAA to have plenty of hot water for hot chocolate on hand.

The following weekend, Florida will host a three game set against the Miami Hurricanes, with the first two contests televised by Sunshine Network. McMahon will have plenty of time to test the youngsters, as the Gators first 21 games will be in the cozy confines of McKethan Stadium.

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