SPRING: A few minutes with Dallas Baker

With Chad Jackson projected as a first or second round pick in the NFL draft this year, the Florida Gators have some very large shoes to fill as their next deep-threat receiver. Dallas Baker appears ready to fill those shoes, and Gator Country caught up with Dallas after practice Monday to get his thoughts on this offense.

Baker is the most confident player on Florida's football field this spring. He has a swagger to him and is extremely vocal to opposing defenders during drills and scrimmages. It's very apparent that Baker is comfortable with this offense, as Coach Meyer has held him on the sidelines lately to let the other receivers get some action. On Monday, a few of the receivers struggled in the final drill before practice was over, and Dallas definitely showed his frustration when walking back to the locker room.

JR: Dallas, you seem to be playing with a lot of confidence this spring.

DB: Yeah, definitely.

JR: Do you feel that's most attributed to the senior year and your experience, or are you just settling down with this offense?

DB: I think it's the senior season; growing up and becoming mature. I've learned to relax under stress and just have fun and play football.

JR: Do you find yourself worrying less about the timing of things and the routes and more about just fine-tuning the system now?

DB: It's never really been about the timing or routes. It's just been getting everyone on the same page, and getting all these receivers healthy and playing better.

JR: How do you personally feel about this group of receivers? Do you feel like it's well-balanced enough to spread the field out a little?

DB: Yeah. Coach just talks about making plays. We need to just get better and make plays. I definitely have confidence in our receivers and know what they're capable of, including C.I.

JR: Now that Chad's gone, you're arguably the big deep threat for the Gators this fall and will probably draw the double team often. How do you prepare for that as a receiver?

DB: Ahh we're not working on that really, we're just worried about getting each receiver better. When that other receiver is open from the double team, that's how we'll work as a unit. It'll allow him to come open and make some plays. We don't really practice for the double team at all.

JR: This offense has taken some heat because it hasn't been spreading the field with a lot of deep stuff; it's been more of a short and quick offense. I've noticed over the last couple of practices, especially today, that the deep ball is getting worked into the play calling a little more. Is that just something that comes with chemistry?

DB: No, that's not the issue. Like Coach always talks about...once you get a group of receivers that can makes some plays, he'll throw the ball downfield and will start to get some confidence in us. What's the point of throwing the ball downfield when the receivers can't make plays and get the ball? I mean that's a waste of a down.

JR: Do you feel like any of the lack of deep ball can be attributed to the protection from the offensive line or lack of?

DB: No, not at all. It has nothing to do with the offensive line. It's the receivers. We need to work harder as a unit and get better.

Dallas leads by example on the field. If he drops anything that hits his hands, he's very critical of himself and gets pretty fired up about it. Baker will be a huge key to opening up the passing game by keeping the defenses honest, and will draw the double-team many times throughout the season. When you have a receiver that draws the double, there's always someone else open looking for the ball, and hopefully this offense will get to the point where they take advantage of those opportunities.

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