The Robertson Report

[Premium Article] Well, Bulldog fans, spring practice has come and gone for most teams in the SEC. It's hard to believe that in just 18 weeks the season will be upon us again. I've taken a brisk look around the league to see who's doing what. This week we'll look at Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Florida - The Florida Gators begin season #2 under head Coach Ron Zook. Zook found favor with most when he landed top QB prospect Chris Leake. Leake has already visited the campus and observed some practices. He will be given a chance to win the starting job in the fall, but the chances are remote that he will be successful. It appears that Ingle Martin, who punted last year, is the man to beat for the job. Martin has a year in the system and showed the confidence of a starter all spring by most reports. Gavin Dickey will more than likely end up 3rd on the depth chart as the Gators have QBs coming out of their ears. A redshirt will be handed to someone, but it shouldn't be Leake.

Tailback Deshawn Wynn is being billed by many as the 2nd coming of Eric Rhett. Wynn has big play ability and will see the ball a good bit as Florida tries to show a more balanced attack on the offensive side of the ball. Remember the name Dallas Baker. Baker looks to be a focal point of the offense especially in the red zone. It is important to remember that Rex Grossman is gone, so expect to see the ball spread around a lot more.

The Gators added Charlie Strong at defensive coordinator. Strong has his work cut out for him as the defense has several holes. The front seven may be as bad as we've seen at Florida in years. Keiwan Ratliff will still champion the cause from the secondary and that will be a talented group, but chances are they'll be needed in run support. Florida has some talent, but it may be 2 to 3 games into the season before the defense comes together.

Georgia - Offense was at a premium at the annual G-Day game, which had the Red stumbling by the Black 10-7. The Black's lone score was a touchdown return of a David Greene pass. Sometimes I wonder if David Greene made a mistake going to UGA. He was 1st team All-SEC a year ago, won the SEC, and had it not been for a D.J. Shockley lollipop throw that Florida returned for a TD, the Dawgs would have been playing for the national championship. Despite all of those honors, Greene still has to look over his shoulder at back-up D.J. Shockley.

Head coach Mark Richt has stated that Greene will be the starter, but that Shockley will see even more playing time than last year.

TB Musa Smith, who many forecast as a 1st round pick in the NFL draft this month, left some big shoes to fill. It appears that Tony Milton will get the nod as the starting tailback heading into the fall. Milton had a nice spring, but his numbers in the spring game weren't stellar as both squads combined for about 260 yards offense.

Defense looks to be a very big strong point for the Dawgs in 2003 despite the loss of awesome DT Jonathan Sullivan. The most improved player on the the defense this spring was Tim Jennings who coaches say has earned a starting spot, but stopped short of saying where. The cupboard is far from empty and if the Dawgs can plug a few gaps up front, these boys may visit the Georgia Dome again the 1st weekend of December.

South Carolina - The USC Spring game saw the White defeat the Garnet 21-13 after a last second pass fell incomplete for the Garnet. The Gamecocks saw Dondrial Pinkins emerge as the starter and he really had a nice spring. New addition Mike Rathe should be the #2 guy and while he is not quite as mobile as Pinkins, he has the ability to beat you deep. These two QBs saw the WR corps step up this spring as well. Troy Williamson earned MVP honors and several other accolades for his work this spring. USC likes balance and sometimes will lean more to the run, but Pinkins provides another element to prepare for with his feet.

It seems that Kenny Irons will be the starting tailback after gaining nearly a hundred yards in the spring game. Daccus Turman also caught the attention of the coaching staff and will earn some carries as well. This is a huge battle and some depth in the back field will be key for this team once fall gets here. The offensive line drew some criticism from Coach Holtz, but you best believe he'll remedy that before the season opener.

The defense has some issues, especially at linebacker. This group last year had a bend and bend and sometimes break philosophy, but kept the 'Cocks in some games they probably should have lost. There is talent on the roster, but it must be found while the new system is installed.

You'll get to read a more in-depth analysis on each of these teams this summer when the team by team previews come out. This is the 1st in a 4-part series on SEC spring practices. Next week we'll complete the East then make our way around the West. Until then have a great Bulldog week.

Steve Robertson
Mark 16:6-7

Steve Robertson is a free-lance correspondent who writes The Robertson Report for the premium site portion of Gene's Page. Steve's email address is

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