UF Media Day Wrap-Up

The Florida Gators began their two-week journey through Camp Zook with media day today. Tomorrow is fan day and Monday begins two-a-days. The common theme among the players and the coaches was, "We're ready to go," a symbolic reference that coincides with the identity of the new energetic head coach. Camp Zook officially begins and UFInsider is, "ready to go!" Here are some of my observations, analysis and interesting information from today's media day.

Media Day In Review:

Defensively, it is obvious that they are excited to have DE Clint Mitchell back and expect him to be a major contributor on the team. His battle with Darrell Lee in fall drills will make both better and strengthens a defensive line that has become very deep since spring practice. To a man each defensive player loves the new defense, calling it fun to play in because you're being proactive and not reactive.

The middle linebacker job is another battle that may make this team better. Matt Farrior enters as the starter, but Coach Thompson said today that it will be a heck of a competition in Camp. Farrior brings tremendous speed, while Flemming, who often is not talked about enough, brings savvy and instincts. This move allows Harris to work at outside, although by the end of Camp he may know all three positions.

The secondary brings a lot of snaps back but only one starter (Todd Johnson) the corners are excited about being able to play more man-to-man defense. Gus Scott is ready to challenge for the team lead in sacks from his safety position. Cromartie expects to win the job and relishes lining up against anyone in the SEC. Ratliff is the outspoken player in the group and want the same responsibility former Gator CB Lito Sheppard had in getting the opposing team's number one receiver. The defensive staff admitted that they are not afraid to play young players and think all three of the freshmen DB's are going to have great careers at UF. The system in place is one that allows Coach Thompson to put players in a position to make plays every single down and make sure the quarterback is confused.

The offense is ready to prove to everyone that they can still throw the football after Steve Spurrier is gone. There will be an emphasis on the run and that aspect has the offensive line chomping at the bit. Starks and Snell are the two known commodities with Colon and Mitchell having a tremendous edge on the opposite side to start. Degory versus Jorgensen and Dubose should be interesting and Coach Wickline said there will be a competition for the center spot. I think Degory can win the job if he proves he can perform when the lights are on August 31.Jorgensen will have to prove to the coaches that he can stay healthy and be a team guy. This should make for an interesting competition.

Aaron Walker will be the number two guy in the passing game at the start of the season. It may not end that way but to get the offensive line time to gel and the other receivers along look for him to make an impact. Grossman continually refers to A. Walk as a target, as do the coaches. The leading candidate to be the next guy is Carlos Perez who receiver coach Dwayne Dixon singled out as a guy who could rise up. Keep an eye on Kenneth Tookes and possibly Dallas Baker. These are the two that could make an impact in the first month of the college football season.

Coach Zaunbreaker feels Graham can be a 1,000-yard back and Carthon could have big
numbers as well. Running back coach Larry Fedora continues to harp that whoever is in when the offense is moving is staying in. Willie Green says he feels great and hopes he can be a factor.

Keep an eye on Perez, Kight, Jackson and Small early in fall camp-whoever starts well may get the confidence to step in and take off at the WR spot.

This and That....

The Gators came out in black cleats. This year the team will wear them because Zook wanted to bring back the early 90's mentality when he was coaching at UF…Most of the players were skeptical about the staying in a Hotel for 14 days during camp until checking in on Friday. Todd Johnson said he was relieved to find out they still had televisions in their rooms. Kewain Ratliff thinks the Hotel idea is good because he says he skips meals a lot and likes to sleep in. I guess he needs to live in a hotel. Ratliff says now they can wake him up and make him eat to keep his weight on. One disappointed Gator was Ian Scott, he loves cartoons and on the Hotel TV they do not have the Cartoon Network Channel. He cannot believe he has to go two weeks without cartoons. Expect him to get a VCR and have Momma tape them at home…Earnest Graham who is a senior will have a young roommate for the next 14 days-Highly Regarded running back Ciatrick Fason will share quarters with Graham. Ciatrick says he is looking forward to learning a lot about Florida Football from Graham. I suspect Graham can get the freshmen to run some errands, don't you?…If you were one of those fans who got frustrated by delay of game penalties during the Spurrier era, worry no more. Zaunbreaker likes "tempo" in his offense and Grossman really thinks it will eliminate those penalties. Look for UF to get plays in quicker and force defenses to be out of position or call timeouts more than you can remember in the past. Red Anderson who played and coached in the City of Miami says having the Canes back on the schedule is not only good for college football but also for Gator recruiting…Kewain Ratliff was voted by Kirk Herbstreit as one of the 10 best dressed players in the country, when informed that he would no longer be wearing his trademark white shoes with his knee socks, Ratliff commented that he may have to slip into the bathroom stall before the game and spat his shoes up with some tape…Many people think Ron Zook never sleeps and he said that eating and sleeping are necessary evils and the only reason you do them is because you have to. He also said he does take time with his family, as a matter of fact he took a day to spend on his boat and Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley called him, Zook rushed to the phone only to hear Foley tell him he needed to take a day off. How about that irony?…Ron Zook and his team will not have a slogan like the Seminoles do in Tallahassee  (Let's Roll). When asked, Zook said we don't have slogans we have goals…

Finally, players who looked good on the hoof at media days:

Ingle Martin looks bigger and in better shape. He is apparently at 221; Max Starks' arms are enormous as are Mike Nattiel's; Rex Grossman looks even bigger, yet slimmer so it is apparent these guys busted this summer. Now Monday comes the Fruits of their Labor.


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