Five Key Guys on Offense

The Gator football team opens fall practices on Monday with few major concerns about their offense. And that's with good reason. Florida returns every playmaker but one (Bubba Caldwell) from an offense that averaged 42.5 points, 200 rushing yards and 257 passing yards.

They are also likely to be better at running back with the additions of Chris Rainey and Emanuel Moody and on the offensive line with the return of Phil Trautwein and Michael Pouncey.

So what is there to be concerned about or even curious about as fall drills begin? Well, there are five guys I will be watching closely.

Cameron Newton ----- Newton needs to be sharp at the start of camp to solidify the No. 2 quarterback job. He gained a bit of experience last fall, running the ball 16 times for 103 yards and 3 touchdowns. He threw ten passes, completing five for another 40 yards. Newton's size and athleticism make him the ideal candidate to back up Tim Tebow, but he has to show progress, particularly with throwing the ball or John Brantley will be right on his heels.

Mon Williams ----- I'm hearing very good things about Williams' readiness to return from his torn ACL and look forward to seeing it myself. I believe a healthy Williams could have been the difference in one or two losses last season and still love the explosiveness he offers out of the backfield. I admit I'm a bit of a sap when it comes to rooting for guys coming back from major injuries.

Carl Johnson ----- The Gators are incredibly deep at guard, but at tackle not so much. Johnson has bounced around along the line in his first two seasons, but it's time for him to announce to the world that he's the No. 3 tackle behind Trautwein and Jason Watkins and that he'll be ready if/when needed.

Riley Cooper ----- We know that the speedy wide out can dominate schools with "Western" in their name, but what else? Cooper caught seven passes for 204 yards and five touchdowns against Western Kentucky ('07) and Western Carolina ('06), but just five for 60 yards and 1 TD against all other opponents. Some (including yours truly) have suggest Cooper might warrant a look at free safety, but not matter what it's time for him to raise his game.

Jeff Demps ----- I really don't think he's going to play this fall, but when you bring in a guy with the speed to qualify for the Olympic Trials you gotta wonder just what he can do. Unlike John Capel before him, Demps is a true football player with amazing speed, not the other way around. As crowded as the Gator backfield is, you just gotta see what he can do.

Tomorrow, the top five guys to watch on defense.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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