Billy G Looking for Playmakers

Florida receivers coach Billy Gonzales has the task of finding guys to replace the 78 catches and 14 touchdowns that Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy gave to the Gator passing game last season.

That process begins with a trio of seniors who each caught a TD pass in the SEC Championship Game. David Nelson (12-228, 5), Carl Moore (14-184-1) and Riley Cooper (18-261, 3) all came through in one of the biggest games of the year and give Gonzales confidence his unit can get the job done. I spoke with him after the first practice Thursday morning.

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LV: Billy are you excited to finally get going for the upcoming season?

BG: Extremely. It's always great when you get your guys out on the field. This is an older group and they are experienced in that they have all played but still they're hungry and ready to go.

LV: Does Riley not being here all summer leave him a little bit behind as you get going?

BG: No he'll be fine. The only thing we have to do is make sure he gets caught up and that we're smart with him conditioning wise. Football-wise he'll be fine. He played for us all last year and he knows the offense. He just has to get with the new playbook, but he learns fast, he's a smart kid. He's been exercising with baseball but it's not the same thing as far as being in condition (for football).

LV: You have three seniors who each caught a TD pass in the SEC Title Game. Does that give you a good starting point for the unit?

BG: Definitely. We lost Percy and we lost Murphy and those were two unbelievably good athletes and two of the best to ever come through here. But the great thing about it is I've got five seniors (including Brandon James and Cade Holliday) that have had great summers and have played. I'm excited about that group leading the younger ones.

LV: You now have Brandon as a full-time receiver. What does he have to learn before he can be a factor for your unit this fall?

BG: I think the biggest thing he can do a lot of things. He's a superior athlete with his punt returns and kick returns; we all know that. He's just got to become a great route runner. The good thing for him is Tim (Tebow) and Johnny (Brantley) came back and they say he had a great off-season working on running his routes.

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There's not a more experienced group on campus when it comes to years in the program, but the Gator receiving corps still needs to develop a "go-to" guy or two in order for this offense to flourish. Many are looking for Deonte Thompson to be the main man, but the talented wideout has yet to show it day in and day out. It'll be interesting to see if Thompson emerges as that guy before the season opener in four weeks.


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