Whenever a new coach takes over a team, the players are generally going to have to learn a new system. Florida is no exception to this learning curve. In fact, Monday , the first day of practice, is going to be devoted solely to learning the new offensive terminology. But what is unique about this is, the team will not even step on the field, they will go through the first practice sitting down and taking notes on how the offense is going to work.
Ed Zaunbrecher was given the extremely difficult task of replacing Steve Spurrier, the offensive coordinator. For some others coaches, they may have had some hesitation about taking that job because the Gators have experienced success on the offensive side of the ball like no other team before Spurrier arrived, but not Zaunbrecher. He insists that things won't change all that much. There will still be the post pattern and fly routes. So as of right now, the fun-n-gun has not disappeared., but instead been cloned. There will be one twin in Washington D.C. and the other in Gainesville, Florida. The offense should be the strength of this team with Quarterback Rex Grossman and Wide Receiver Taylor Jacobs returning. The Gators should also have a strong running game led by Earnest Graham.
The offense, however, is not the only part of this Gator team that is going to see a lot of attention during the spring. The defense, led by defensive coordinator John Thompson, will also have to learn a new attacking scheme that is going to be different from the one the players used last year. "We start with the basic premise that we are going to attack. From the time we get off the bus, from goal line to goal line, and in all situations throughout the game, we are going to attack," Thompson said. Gator fans can expect to see more man coverage in the secondary, more blitzes, more sacks, but basically more organized chaos. Like any team in the SEC, the Gators are going to try and stop the run first and force teams to beat them through the air. But that may not be so easy, because UF returns two of the better safeties in the nation, in Todd Johnson and Gus Scott. Cornerback is a spot with loads of talent but little experience. Keiwan Ratliff is expected to be one starting corner. The other corner spot is open between a large number of Gators. The three most likely to win the job are Robert Cromartie, Deshawn Carter, and Marquis Westbrook.
Somewhere in between installing a new defense and offense, Coach Zook is going to have to find time to install a new special teams unit, which will be led by Jerry Odom. Expect to see more of an emphasis on special teams this year. That means going after punts, field goals, and extra points. One thing that Coach Zook has made clear is that his team is going to attack, and special teams are not going to be any different. Look for Matt Piotrowicz to handle kick-offs and Matt Leach to handle the punter duties. An extra point and field goal kicker is going to have to be found to replace Jeff Chandler.
Every year there will be position changes and this year is no different. Players moving to defensive end are Todd McCullough, Marcus Oquendo-Johnson, and Chris Reynolds. Middle Linebacker is also home to some position changes. Matt Farrior will be moved from outside to inside linebacker compete with Travis Harris for the starting spot. Also, Larry Kendrick has been moved from safety to outside linebacker.
Like any other team in the country, the Gators have some very important questions to answer before the end of Spring Practice. Here are five questions that need to be answered before Spring Practice concludes:
1. Who is going to be the second and third receiver?
2. Who is going to be the middle linebacker?
3. Who are the defensive ends?
4. Who will be the conerbacks?
5. Who will be the left offensive tackle and the right offensive guard?
Spring Practice is going to be critical for this Gator team to be successful next year. The sooner the players get a hold on the new schemes, the better. The Gators are going to play a very difficult schedule next year and the more time they have to prepare for those games, the better off they will be. The Orange and Blue will be the finale of fifteen days of work during the spring. The game will take place on April 6th at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
The Spring Roster will consist of 60 players. Here is the roster, heading into the spring, in alphabetical order:
NAME POS HT WT CL EXP HOMETOWN/HIGH SCHOOL
Cory Bailey SS 5-11 187 SO 1L Miami/American
Steven Bell OG 6-5 290 JR SQ Boca Raton/Spanish River
Vernell Brown CB 5-8 151 FR SQ Gainesville/Gainesville
Lance Butler OT 6-7 309 FR SQ Lexington, NC/West Davidson
Hunter Cain TE 6-0 232 FR SQ Dallas, TX/Jesuit College Prep
Darrell Carpenter TE 6-2 208 FR SQ Orlando/Edgewater
Deshawn Carter CB 6-0 198 FR SQ Hammond, LA/Ponchatoula
Ran Carthon RB 6-0 212 JR 2L Key West/Key West
Jonathan Colon OT 6-7 311 SO 1L Miami/Miami Central/Bridgton Academy
Jeff Creveling QB 6-2 230 SO 1L Gainesville/P.K. Yonge
Robert Cromartie CB 5-8 190 SR 3L East Point, GA/Douglass
Mike Degory C 6-6 315 FR SQ Palm Bay/Palm Bay
Daryl Dixon FS 5-10 194 SR 3L Oak Hill/New Smyrna Beach
Ronald Dowdy DT 6-4 277 SO 1L Fayetteville, NC/Pine Forest
Dewayne DuBose C 6-0 280 SO 1L Lutz/Chamberlain
Matt Farrior LB 6-2 232 JR 2L Petersburg, VA/Matoaca
Reid Fleming LB 6-0 232 JR 2L Panama City/Rutherford
Earnest Graham RB 5-9 215 SR 3L Ft. Myers/Mariner
Willie Green RB 5-8 210 SO 1L Kissimmee/Osceola
Rex Grossman QB 6-1 220 JR 2L Bloomington, IN/Bloomington South
Byron Hardmon LB 6-1 234 SR 3L Jacksonville/Ed White
Travis Harris LB 6-2 240 SO 1L Decatur, GA/Southwest DeKalb
Jarvis Herring FS 5-11 193 FR SQ Live Oak/Suwannee
Dwright Jackson LB 6-1 216 JR 2L South Bay/Glades Central
Matt Jackson WR 5-10 194 JR 2L Live Oak/Suwannee
Taylor Jacobs WR 6-1 198 SR 3L Monticello/Florida A&M
Todd Johnson FS 6-1 201 SR 3L Sarasota/Riverview
David Jorgensen C 6-4 288 SR 3L Hartford, CT/Avon Old Farms
David Kearley OG 6-4 304 SR 2L Niceville/Niceville
Larry Kendrick LB 5-11 212 JR 1L Haines City/Haines City
Kelvin Kight WR 6-0 198 JR 2L Lithonia, GA/Lithonia
Alex Kish WR 6-2 216 SO SQ New Smyrna Beach/New Smyrna
Tron LaFavor DT 6-2 288 SR 3L Ft. Lauderdale/Dillard
Johnny Lamar CB 5-10 180 JR 1L Fort Lauderdale/Dillard
Matt Leach P/PK 6-1 199 SO 1L Sarasota/Booker
Darrell Lee DE 6-4 255 JR 2L Kirkwood, MO/Kirkwood
Jonathan Lively C/LS 6-1 270 SO 1L Belle Glade/Glades Day
Ingle Martin QB 6-2 220 FR SQ Nashville, TN/Montgomery Bell Academy
Jonathan Marvin OG 6-4 315 FR SQ Hendersonville, NC/West Henderson
Bobby McCray DE 6-6 248 JR 1L Miami/Homestead
Todd McCullough DE 6-4 225 SO 1L Macclenny/The Bolles School
Sylvester McGrew DE 6-4 270 FR SQ New Orleans, LA/St. Augustine
Bennie Mills OG 6-3 275 SO 1L Metairie, LA/Rummel Boys School
Clint Mitchell DE 6-7 245 JR 1L Clearwater/Countryside
Mo Mitchell OT 6-7 350 SO 1L Albany, GA/Dougherty/Fork Union Military
Sean Morton P 6-2 184 JR SQ Auburndale/Auburndale/Northwestern Univ.
Lester Norwood FS 6-2 189 SR 3L Marietta, GA/Wheeler
Mike Nattiel LB 6-0 229 SR 3L Archer/Newberry
Marcus Oquendo-Johnson DE 6-4 215 SR 3L Rockledge/Rockledge
Tre Orr SS 6-0 208 SO SQ Lake City/Columbia
Kenny Parker DT 6-3 290 SO 1L Warner Robins, GA/Northside
Carlos Perez WR 5-11 203 JR 2L Hoboken, NJ/Hoboken
Matt Piotrowicz PK/P 5-11 207 SO 1L Chicago, IL/Mount Carmel
Keiwan Ratliff CB 5-10 181 JR 2L Columbus, OH/Whitehall-Yearling
Chris Reynolds DE 6-1 283 SR 2L Tallahassee/Lincoln
Arpedge Rolle DT 6-1 278 SR 3L Miami/Miami Central
Bryan Savelio DT 6-2 290 SR 1L Henderson, NV/Basic
Guss Scott SS 5-11 191 JR 2L Jacksonville/Trinity Christian School
Ian Scott DT 6-3 307 JR 2L Gainesville/Gainesville
Antoine Sharp WR 6-0 203 FR SQ Jacksonville/The Bolles School
O.J. Small WR 6-1 211 SO 1L Jacksonville/Forrest
Ray Snell RB 6-0 240 SO 1L Tampa/Hillsborough
Shannon Snell OG 6-5 301 JR 2L Tampa/Hillsborough
Max Starks OT 6-8 345 JR 2L Orlando/Lake Highland Prep
Brian Stone WR 6-1 192 SO 1L Nashville, TN/Christ Presbyterian Academy
Brendt Talcott PK 6-0 200 JR 1L Lakeland/Lakeland Senior
Chad Tidwell OG 6-5 315 SO SQ Tallahassee/Lincoln
Ben Troupe TE 6-5 253 JR 2L Augusta, GA/Butler
Reggie Vickers WR 5-11 175 SO SQ Belle Glade/Glades Central
Aaron Walker TE 6-6 261 SR 3L Mims/Astronaut
Marquis Westbrook CB 5-9 176 SR 3L Cordele, GA/Crisp County
Bobby Williams OT 6-4 285 SO 1L New Smyrna Beach/New Smyrna Beach