victory last week against Vanderbilt the reaction from their opponent was making
a statement where this program is and where it's going. Teams are now
satisfied with moral victories against UF's talented team. Tennessee,
South Carolina and Vandy seemed encouraged by their performance against
Billy's team. UF's 16-2 start was the best in school history, only three
other teams made it to 15-2 but lost. The Gators hold a 14 game home
winning streak which is fourth longest in school history. Conference
statistics and trends are beginning to take shape. In conference play (5
games) Matt Bonner is averaging 16.6 ppg and almost 7 rebounds a game.
Anthony Roberson is the second leading scorer in conference play with 14 ppg.
Maybe the biggest reason the Gators are 5-0 in league play is David Lee who is
averaging 13.2 ppg and 8.8 big rebounds. This includes 19 offensive rips
in 5 league games. His presence is paramount to success in Baton Rouge on
Super Tuesday. The Gators are averaging 76 ppg in league play but their
turnovers are way down at 11.2 per game as opposed to 14.2 for the regular
season. Finally the Gators are outscoring their first five league
opponents in the second half by 32 points.
Even though Pat
McMahon's squad is not ranked and must find an infield and some pitching there
is hope that his team can compete for an SEC Title. Ben Harrison returns
in the outfield and is a potential All-American who hit .342 with 23 extra base
hits and 38 RBI. Mario Garza also returns off an 11 homer 41 RBI season with
catcher Brian Rose who is a senior. The most experienced pitchers are
David Bartelt and lefty Mike Pete but the wildcard is Jamie Goldfarb who is
recovering from offseason rotator cuff surgery. Ben Hedgecock, Conner
Falkenbach and Christian Madson are other pitchers that will be in the rotation.
The Gators open up February 7th at home in a three game set with Mercer.
Miami comes to town Feb 14th.
Florida is closing in on a huge recruiting year and with at least 20 commitments so far and probably 27-30 officials on Signing Day. Many from this year's class will contribute. We have talked about the JUCO offensive lineman and obviously David Kenner and Reynaldo Hill will play a lot or even start come opening day.
Which true freshman will contribute or play? Well it may be early but of the committed guys here's my take. Defensive back Demetrice Webb will compete with the twins and others for PT at a corner spot. The Ratliff decision on whether he moves to offense will effect whether or not he starts but he will play. I have penciled in Chris Leak as the number two quarterback behind Gavin Dickey. The way to learn a new system with new coaches and new players is to get right into the oven and compete. Channing Crowder could be the starting middle linebacker and even though he laid out a season will be a young player. The wildcard of the committed list is Jermaine Moreirra. He is an outstanding athlete that makes your special teams better right now. He can return kicks and maybe work his way into a backup role at receiver or at corner. Eric Wilbur will be the punter unless those on campus change their ways. This guy will be the man for Zook the next 4 years. Two other committed guys who could play for UF is DJ Norris and Justin Midgett. I think Midgett is very talented and could be the third QB on the depth chart by the end of fall drills. You would think however if Leak is in front of him he will redshirt. Norris could be a factor at fullback. He is athletic and will be a tight end in the future but could be the blocking back Zaunbreaker is looking for as a true freshman. Obviously there are other factors but based on what I have seen and heard these guys will be factors in fall camp. One guy who is still deciding his future (although I think he will be a Gator) is Marcus Thomas and he will definitely play on the defensive front should he select Florida. Antonio Cromartie, Turk McBride, Ernie Sims, Chad Jackson, and Andre Caldwell also would contribute if they end up at Florida. We will see come signing day next Wednesday.
I do think Zook has one added bonus to his recruiting efforts this time around
at UF that he did not have in the mid 90's. He has been in the NFL and
coached against Marshall Faulk and kids like that nowadays. Athletes want
to think they can get to the next level and by having been there Zook can offer
them a unique perspective that only 10-12 coaches in the country can.
Snippets and Tidbits:
Since it is the final weekend of recruiting and UF can probably land 7-10 commitments here is my stab at the last 10 that get in. This is just for fun and Newberg knows a lot more than I do. Here we go... Reggie Nelson, Marcus Thomas, Andre Caldwell, Earl Everett, Antonio Cromartie, Kenny Scott, Quinton Cul