The Gators have finished their pre-Christmas preparation for Michigan and the Outback Bowl. The Gators will be off until Thursday in which they will report to Tampa. The Gators are looking for a new defensive coordinator but could still have John Thompson for the Bowl game. I will give you a couple of names that may surface plus the beginning of attrition with transfers could begin as well with the junior college signees coming in.
First let's begin with Thompson, who has done a superb job this year and will make a fine head coach at East Carolina. He probably will not take anyone with him unless he makes them a coordinator. Candidates would be Jerry Odom and Dwayne Dixon but both are Gators and really like being at their alma mater. This defense this season was more of Ron Zook's New Orleans defense than it was Thompson's Arkansas defense, specially the use of the four man front. Still Thompson pull the right triggers in keeping the Gator defense strong during some tough situations. With this being Zook's philosophy and terminology it would make it an easy switch to plug in Mike Woodford and keep on going. That's becoming more and more unlikely with the public relations problems this year has been. It is also a springboard for a head coaching job so finding someone for that reason will be an easy choice.
Here are two names that may surprise you but keep an eye on, in addition to Woody. Mark Stoops the secondary coach at Miami and John Hoke the secondary coach with the Houston Texans. That's right the brother of the guy everyone wanted hired and the prior defensive coordinator that everyone wanted fired. Both want to be head coaches and both would step in and run the current system and scheme. If Zook does promote Woodford, look for him to look at an ex-player such as James Speer or a high school coach to help with defense and special teams.
Snippets and tidbits...
When new staffs take over generally transferring occurs. UF had some young guys leave before the fall and may have some more either at mid term or after spring. Candidates include everyone form the 2001 recruiting class and ones that are not getting significant playing time. The reason is they will still have time to sit out and be able to play two years or so. One name that may surface and would probably be OK with gator fans is Mo Mitchell. I hear he wants to go to Clemson and is planning to seek that switch after the bowl game. Keep an eye on him as well as any backups on the offensive line and guys like Larry Kendrick. As for Rex Grossman everyone thinks he is a goner. But he could shock everyone and stay in school for another year. I believe it is still too close to call. Much is being made about UF signing 5 JUCO's and Spurrier only signed 4 the whole time he was here. This staff is a better recruiting staff in the Junior College area because most of these guys have been in and out of those places at their previous jobs. Remember Spurrier's staff stayed mostly in tact and their prior experience was with Duke, the USFL or the NFL. Admissions have not become more lenient with Zook and they are just working it a little harder. I am not the recruiting expert, I leave that up to Newberg, but I will go out on a limb and predict UF lands Dee Webb and Chris Leak. Webb will play corner and my sources say the Leak commitment will also attract other big names.
Finally as the Gators prepare for the Wolverines expect Ben Trope and OJ Small to be big factors in the game plan against the Wolverines.
The Rex-O-Meter is at a weak 3.