Camp Zook has completed and overall, it must be deemed a success. The true value will be settled on the field with wins and losses. Many in the Gator Nation wonder how this staff will do stacking up with the success of the prior coaching staff. Earnest Graham has repeatedly said he has learned more football in one month with Larrry Fedora than he did the prior three years. Can than translate into wins? Only time will tell.
The SEC begins a full slate this week with match-ups like Auburn at Southern Cal, LSU at Virginia Tech, Clemson at Georgia and Mississippi St. at Oregon. If the SEC goes 4-0, this could be the sign of things to come in 2002. Auburn has problems, but the do have a salty defense and we all know there is no defense in the PAC 10. LSU is the defending champ and must play in a hostile environment, but they must handle success while having the bulls-eye on their chest. Clemson and Georgia renew their rivalry which could be a big day for Fred Gibson and David Greene, as the Tiger defense is terrible. Finally, many think the Bulldogs are the bottom of the SEC while others think Oregon is a sleeper for the National title. If the big boys can grind it out for Jackie Sherrill, it could be the biggest surprise of the weekend. I will pick the games later in the week.
Snippets and Tidbits...
THE GOOD OF CAMP ZOOK:
There were no season ending injuries, and as physical as this camp was, I believe that's a major coup. First and foremost, this team will be able to run the football. They are more diverse and physical up front. The first unit is solid and David Jorgensen (who has had a good camp) gives them versatility and added depth. Coach (Joe) Wickline also feels good about the development of Lance Butler, Rod Dowdy, Dewayne Dubose and Randy Hand providing a thin unit with some more firepower. Ran Carthon will get carries, but expect Graham to have a thousand yard season. Rex Grossman seems to be in complete control of the offense and did a nice job developing the "other" receivers after Taylor Jacobs. Ben Troupe raised his level of play during camp and developed into the threat Spurrier often raved about. Willie Green stayed healthy. The freshmen running backs showed the future is bright and the future may be this season. Vernell Brown appears to be comfortable at wide receiver and I look for him to get at least 3-4 opportunities per game in the short passing area. Ingle Martin was solid not flashy but comfortable as the backup.
Defensively, Arpedge Rolle proved the spring was not mirage He can play and is very versatile across the front of the defensive line. Ian Scott is the quiet leader of the defense while Keiwan Ratliff is the emotional and vocal leader. I think MOJO had a solid camp and proved he can get to the passer. Guss Scott is the team's best pass blitzer. Robert Cromatie (see notes later) had his best camp at Florida and looks poised to have a big year. Backups Todd MCollough, Lester Norwood and Bryan Savelio all made plays during Camp Zook. Jermaine McCollum may be the best freshmen corner since Larry Kennedy. Tron LaFavor, who appeared uncomfortable during the spring in the new scheme, has adjusted nicely and will be a factor this season again on the front. Three players were awarded scholarships - punter Jason Hunter, center Dewayne DuBose and fullback Ray Snell.
THE NOT SO GOOD OF CAMP ZOOK:
The injury to Todd Johnson was scary. It appears he will be OK, but you hope it does not effect his aggressiveness. Bobby McCray found out Zook's rules are for real. One injury that still bothers me is the shoulder bothering Jacobs. It happened over a week ago. Is he one Jabari Greer hit away from being out of the lineup? Plus, nagging injuries to Mike Nattiel (hamstring) Darrell Lee (rib), Max Starks (ankle), Mik Degory (back), Reid Fleming (knee), Robert Cromartie (thigh) and OJ Small (ankle) are reasons for some time off over this past weekend. The camp provided no separation at middle linebacker, and with Fleming's injury, it forces Travis Harris to cross-train back inside. Am I the only one surprised Farrior did not pull away from Fleming? Neither made big plays. The linebacking corps in general did not make a lot of big plays during fall camp. Marquis Westbrook has been passed by McCollum and completely disappeared during fall camp. Tre Orr and DeShawn Carter had glimpses but still no consistency. Kenny Parker was a non-factor at defensive tackle. I still think Carols Perez and Kelvin Kight have fragile confidence. They both need to get off to good starts versus UAB.
And finally not enough scrimmages! Just my selfish way to want to see more game like football.
Questions still to be answered versus UAB:
Are the receivers really confident? Can Florida match-up defensively versus a physical running team? How will Carthon be involved? How good are the Special Teams? Can the starting o-line hold up for 12 games?
Just some questions that the season will take care of answering. UAB lost a lot of players and is mired in trying to get money raised for an athletic program that is struggling. We will preview UAB later this week but you can expect the Gators to answer some questions and also still have some after Saturday's opener.