End of Spring Report Card and Notes

The Gators have now finished 15 days of spring football practice. The team had all sorts of plays, formations, and terminology thrown at them during this time. UFI looks at each position and examines how the Gators did. Also there is an injury report on the players that got hurt this spring.

Spring practice is now over, and everyone wants to know how the Gator football team shapes up as they begin summer workouts.  The answer is no one really knows.

The reason is simple; we didn't see nearly all of the packages Florida will employ on offense or defense, and the spring game was as vanilla as it gets on both sides of the ball. 

With all that said, here's one person's opinion on what took place in the spring and what to look for come August!

QUARTERBACKS: Maybe it's me, but Rex Grossman seemed frustrated at times with the new offensive system, because it clearly does not go down the field as much as Spurrier's system did.  That said, Grossman seemed better with it the second half of spring, and he will have to be good to make the offense work.  Redshirt freshman Ingle Martin showed improvement as the spring went on, and it's clear he is a versatile and athletic quarterback.  The option package is a good thing for him.  Can he win a big game if Grossman goes down?  Questionable at this point, but he's making strides and with experience should get even better.

Spring Grade: B

RUNNING BACKS: Very solid here with the senior Earnest Graham and the hard running Ran Carthon, who was again a terror in spring practice.  Can he be a factor in the fall?  Can he somehow get on the field more, maybe at fullback?  It's clear the new offense will be more balanced and run the ball more, and Graham and Carthon have responded.  Willie Green is a nice third guy if he can stay healthy; if not, a freshman will have to step in.

Spring Grade: B

FULLBACKS: If Carthon or Green are not used here, Ray Snell and Ralph Townsend seem to be the choices.  Not a big part of this offense in terms of running or catching the ball.

Spring Grade: How Can You Tell?

WIDE RECEIVERS: Taylor Jacobs is the undisputed go to guy.  No question.  I think Carlos Perez will emerge after he fully recovers from a heel injury.  After that, the jury is out.  Matt Jackson, OJ Small, Antoine Sharp, and Kelvin Kight sort of look like the same receiver.  Reggie Vickers had a solid spring, and maybe he'll carry that over into the fall.

Aaron Walker and Ben Troupe are very good tight ends who can catch, run, and block decently.  They could be thrown to more in this offense.

Spring Grade: B-

OFFENSIVE LINE: The first group looks pretty solid, and the coaching staff deserves a lot of credit for studying tape of this group and moving people around to get the best five on the field.  Max Starks and Mo Mitchell at tackle, Shannon Snell and Jonathon Colon at guard, and the tough Mike Degory at center is a pretty good group, with Snell being the "baby" at a little over 300 pounds.  However, depth must be developed here.  The move of David Jorgensen to guard should help, and a healthy David Kearley at that position would be a boost.  Players like Bobby Williams, Chad Tidwell, and Lance Butler must get better in case a starting tackle goes down.

Spring Grade: B (thanks to the position moves)

DEFENSIVE LINE: A position of weakness going into spring has become a position of strength, again in part because of position moves made by the coaching staff.  Bobby McCray had a tremendous spring at defensive end, and Clint Mitchell could be a star again if he stays out of trouble.  Darrell Lee should be more of a factor, and the moves of Todd McCullough, Sylvester McGrew, Chris Reynolds and Marcus Oquendo Johnson to this position will help with depth and with running different fronts that John Thompson wants to employ.

Arpedge Rolle has been tremendous this spring at defensive tackle, and he, along with Tron LaFavor and the talented Ian Scott, should make the Gators pretty good here.  Bryan Savelio provides depth, and if Kenny Parker can come back from a second back surgery, he could be a factor too.  Will Ronald Dowdy end up here as well? 

Spring Grade: A-

LINEBACKERS: Florida is a little thin here, but very talented.  Mike Nattiel and Bam Hardmon are seniors on the outside who have shown leadership and have been through many big games.  Larry Kendrick is a star in waiting, and hopefully Dwright Jackson can stay healthy to provide depth.  In the middle, Matt Farrior and Reid Fleming are battling for the starting role, and Travis Harris is being trained to play both middle and outside linebacker to better utilize his talents.  The big question is in the middle, where replacing Davis and Carroll won't be easy.  They must stay healthy here, because there aren't a lot of bodies at the position, although they have the luxury of moving a McCullough or an Oquendo Johnson back there if need be.

Spring Grade: B

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Maybe the deepest position on the team.  Let's start with the safeties.  Solid here, with seniors Todd JohnsonDaryl Dixon, and the improving Lester Norwood manning this spot.  Strong safety is handled by the solid Gus Scott, with young Cory Bailey looking to help.  Maybe Tre Orr could be a factor here down the line.  At corner, Florida is set with athletic junior Keiwan Ratliff and senior Robert Cromartie, who has won the other corner job, at least for now.  However, senior Marquis Westbrook is pressing for time, as are youngsters Vernell Brown and Deshawn Carter.  Walk-on Johnny Lamar has made progress here too.  This is a nice blend of upper classmen experience and youngsters waiting their chance to play.

Spring Grade: A-

Special Teams: Matt Leach looks to be the punter and perhaps the field goal kicker as well, and replacing Jeff Chandler there won't be easy.  Matt Piotrowicz should kick off.  Keiwan Ratliff is an experienced returner, but I like Vernell Brown back there returning kicks and punts; he's an explosive runner who can cut seemingly while running full speed.

Spring Grade: Incomplete, we didn't get to see them tackle or block kicks and punts.  However, with Zook's background with special teams, you would think this would be an upgraded spot.

INJURY UPDATE: This was a healthy spring, all in all.  Daryl Dixon, Kenny Parker, David Kearley, David Jorgensen, Dwright Jackson, and Willie Green were the only players out for any significant length of time, and all are expected back by the fall.       

There you have it.  The dog days now begin, when we all wait for practice to start in August.  Can't wait, can you?

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