In a nutshell the strength coach described junior Chris Leak, freshman Josh Portis, junior Gavin Dickey, and freshman Cornelius Ingram. Those are the four scholarship quarterbacks for the Florida Gators in 2004 and they bring with them their own unique set of skills to form a unit that could see more than one on the field at the same time.
All four were very highly recruited athletes and can do absolutely magic things with the ball in or out of their hands. With 18 recruiting stars between them, all four were doing these things long before they stepped on the campus at Florida. All of them were used to winning and now, they are ready to step up and help this team do the same.
Urban Meyer gets to pretend to be the mad scientist and cook up new ways to make his offense work with more than one of these guys on the field. Just imagine what the opposing safeties and coaches would think if all four were out there at the same time. Yes, I said all four. It could happen, trust me. As a matter of fact, I bet it does. Imagine the nightmare film sessions the defensive coaches will go through after it happens. We will get into how later, but let's first talk about the component parts of the quarterback position at the University of Florida.
First, we have the "Mad Surgeon," the guy that is the current returning leader in dissecting SEC secondaries. Chris Leak is only a true junior, but led the SEC as a sophomore in almost all passing categories. Leak played in all of the first 25 games of his career for a total of 1,468 plays with 21 starts. He has thrown a touchdown pass in all 21 of his starts, the longest streak in the SEC and the second longest among quarterbacks on Top 25 teams at the conclusion of the 2004 season. His 5,632 passing yards ranks eighth all-time in UF history while his 428 completions and 719 attempts ranks eighth all-time. His 45 touchdown passes are second most by a player in his first two seasons at UF to Rex Grossman's 55. He also has four career 300-yard passing games.
The entire coaching staff has been adamant about Leak's ability to run the offense and we will find out just how well he can he can do that in a little over a month. While he didn't take a single hit in the spring (always wearing the non-contact jersey), he will have to take hits once the real games begin. The coaching staff doesn't think that will be a problem.
Portis, who is now listed at 6-4 and 210 pounds, reportedly ran a 4.4 second, 40 yard dash in the off-season. He may be the Freddie Kruger of the bunch. If Leak goes down, the other team may think they are dreaming only to wake up and find a monster of a quarterback that can seemingly do anything he wants on the football field. Portis threw for over 250 yards and four touchdowns in the spring game. He also had eighty positive yards rushing, of which half were deleted by sacks by the end of the game. He plays fearlessly.
"Slash" may be an appropriate name for Dickey as he may be called on to slice up defenses in many different ways this season. In multiple speaking engagements in the off-season, Meyer listed Dickey as the fifth receiver. With only four guys at receiver that he "trusts," he really wants to get Dickey's playmaking ability onto the field. That isn't to say that Dickey can't play quarterback. He had one outstanding scrimmage early on in spring with very few practices under his belt. Slash, should get better with more reps in the fall.
Ingram is the prototype monster quarterback. At 6-4, 225 he also is a two-sport athlete that can also do many things. He is "Frankenstein" with a brain. He knows what to do with the ball in his hands. In the spring game he rushed for 68 yards on six carries with the defense in constant hot pursuit. He sees a hole and he takes it. Despite what some people think, Ingram can throw the ball with touch when given the chance. Dr. Frankenstein put him together right.
What would it be like getting all of these monsters on the field at one time? Move over Godzilla vs. King Kong, this is one that would do horror film director Tim Burton or writer Stephen King justice. The evil Urban Meyer is liable to make a concoction on offense so horrible to defensive units, that rather than watch, they simply turn their heads.
It could go something like this. The Mad Surgeon and Freddie Kruger are in the backfield split in a V from center. The defense eyes that backfield and gulps as they realize the snap could go to either quarterback. One quick look to the right slot and Slash is salivating as he looks down field towards the end zone. The left slot is occupied by the huge menace "Frankenstein" and he is ready to beat down the villagers across the line of scrimmage. The defense shrieks in anticipation of the evil Meyer's plan for this play. They could strike from land or air from four parts of the field, and all of them quite effectively.
When the ball is snapped, the safeties' dizziness is replaced with reality as the ball is hiked diagonally to the Mad Surgeon. As he sprints right, the safety catches Slash heading toward the backfield and realizes the worst nightmare is upon them. The safety eyes the huge Frankenstein that discards his man defender at the line of scrimmage and lumbers at break neck speed toward his very spot in the secondary. He sees Slash take the ball and head in a reverse motion to the backfield. With the defensive line focusing on Slash, Freddie is wide open on the left side and dropped back. Slash uses his escapability and lethal accuracy to hit Freddie with the ball. The safety has no choice, he has to pursue Freddie, but Frankenstein is left wide open. Freddie lofts the ball, amazingly not slicing it to bits with his bladed fingers, to a wide open Frankenstein, who decides to wait at the goal line to beat on any defender that decides to show up.
Okay, that couldn't happen, or could it? It's going to be fun folks.