Five Questions for the Fall: Offense

Sunday, our summer of discontent reaches the finish line with the start of fall practices for the 2007 Gator Football team. Florida will go through six days of open practices before they disappear behind security fences for the rest of their preparation for the upcoming season. Today we look at five key questions for the Gator offense this spring, tomorrow, the defense.

Is Tim Tebow ready? ----- I am certain the answer to this is a resounding "YES" but the face of the matter is we don't know. Tebow showed plenty of potential during last season's National Championship run and this spring looked like a man in command. But he is still just a true sophomore. He still has to run the entire offense. He still has to show that he has learned when to go for the extra yard and when to protect his health. He is the key to this offense and his play will determine whether or not the Gators are strong contenders in the very competitive SEC East.

Will the tackle swap work out? ----- This reminds me a little of two years ago when the Gators reassigned the offensive line positions after spring practice thus negating most if not all of the benefits of spring drills. The shifting around also eliminated the benefit Florida had with an experienced blocking unit. Moving Phil Trautwein to Tebow's blind side and Carlton Medder over to left tackle is easy to justify, but it comes with some risk. They helped themselves by doing it before spring practice this time.

Who will run the ball the most? ----- There's a real chance Tebow could be the team's leading rusher, but that would not be a good thing. Percy Harvin could also end up with a ton of rushing yardage and coach Urban Meyer indicated that Jarred Fayson is a threat there as well. Still, a legit running threat needs to emerge from Kestahn Moore, Chevon Walker or perhaps rookie Chris Rainey. The better Florida's running backs are, the better this offense will become.

Will a downfield passing game emerge? ----- Last year the Florida Gators won the National Title despite an anemic downfield passing game. Florida managed just 13 pass plays of 30 yards or more which is less than one a game and that's just awful. It's even more awful to realize that of the 13 big plays in the passing game, three came against UCF, three against Kentucky and two against Western Carolina. There's no excuse for not expanding the downfield threat with weapons like Caldwell, Harvin, Ingram et al at your disposal. Offensive Coordinator Dan Mullen did a superb job of re-tooling the offense to utilize the abilities of Chris Leak and Tebow. Now he gets to show us how to bring the big play back into the Florida passing game.

Who wins the right guard job? ----- Let's face it, there aren't that many question on this side of the ball, but the fifth starter on the line is certainly one battle to watch this fall. Mo Hurt is the front-runner but the Pouncey twins are going to give him a run for his money. Florida is as deep on the line as they have been in years.

There are other questions of lesser concern, including the utilization of Ingram and Hernandez in the passing game and depth of tackle which has not been needed in two years but this unit is very solid entering camp and has a great chance to be the best offense in the SEC.

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