An Insider's Look

Being part of a great network, we have a chance to share expertise across the network with the great folks that cover the different team sites. Bob Redman joins us from FightinGators.com to bring you his perspective on the Florida team that will square off Saturday afternoon with the Vols in The Swamp.

Bob has been covering the Florida program since 2004 and before that worked 10 years on staff with the Gators. He has a unique insight into what goes on in a football program even if he is two head coaches removed from Ron Zook who was his last boss at Florida. Here is what Bob has to say about the current Gators.

OFFENSE

Quarterback: John Brantley (6-3, 225)

Strength: Brantley is finally in a system that fits his skill set and won't be asked to run the ball from the option like he has had to do in previous seasons. A pure drop back passer he has all the big league throws and solid arm strength. He has been really effective at throwing crossing patterns and passes in general that he can lead a receiver with a straight line throw. Brantley has been really effective hitting his backs in full stride on swing passes and the like allowing them to catch the ball easily and make a play after the catch. This has resulted in a great deal of the offensive production in the first two games. Brantley seems to have grown up a lot under offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.

Weakness: Doubts are still there from most fans and those that watch the team closely about how effective he will be in conference play and we will find out a lot this weekend from Brantley. He had a deer in the headlight look a lot last year. He hasn't attacked the middle of the field, but mostly due to teams really taking that away from the Florida offense. He also hasn't completed a deep ball / over the shoulder pass yet this season.

Florida quarterback John Brantley is starting to turn the corner in the new offensive scheme.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)

Coming on Strong: Jeff Driskel (6-4, 235)

He was the nation's top quarterback out of high school and so far has looked pretty good in very limited time. His first pass ever as a Gator was an interception, but he has looked very solid ever since. Driskel earned the second team slot about two weeks into fall practice, but some behind the scenes would say it was before that. He is expected to be big time with a huge arm and athletic skills better than 90% of the quarterbacks in America. In high school he had two games in a row where he rushed for 280 plus yards.

Running Back: Chris Rainey (5-10, 180); Jeff Demps (5-9, 190)

Strength: Fastest tandem in college football without a doubt. Rainey is ultra-crafty with the ball in his hands and in the open field will make absolutely anyone miss. Demps is more of a straight line runner and an NCAA national champion 100 meter guy with a recorded 9.99 second time in the event. Both can take it the distance with the smallest of creases.

Trey Burton (6-3, 240) will play here and may eventually become the big running back this offense is lacking. He has skills too and should be a running back but plays fullback / tight end/ H-back for Florida and will play professionally someday.

Weakness: Size for the two top guys is less than desirable. Demps already dinged up his shoulder against UAB but is expected back Saturday. Backups Mack Brown (6-0, 208) and Mike Gillislee (6-0, 205) are very capable runners but have not been able to grasp blocking schemes and so they have been relegated to run only situations in games.

Fullback: Trey Burton; Hunter Joyer (5-11, 245)

Strength: Burton can be a real playmaker from the position allowing for two of those in the backfield at the same time when he is out there. Hunter is going to take over allowing Burton to be in a spot more conducive to him making plays. Joyer is a beast of a blocker and has shown he can carry the rock in short yardage situations, at least against lesser teams.

Weakness: Joyer is still learning although he has a pretty good grasp of most of the offense.

Receivers: Quinton Dunbar (FR, 6-3, 189); Frankie Hammond (JR, 5-11, 188); Deonte Thompson (SR, 6-0, 203); Andre Debose (5-11, 190)

Strength: They are a solid group that makes most catches thrown their way. Each has shown flashes of being spectacular. They are fast as a group and also make catches in traffic. They seem to run solid routes which wasn't a given having come from such a different offense. Dunbar is supposed to be the biggest play maker and he has some nice catches, but nothing huge yet even against inferior opponents.

Weakness: Lack of real play makers at the moment. Maybe a bit of too much thinking going on, but there are not may plays after the catch. Only four guys they really trust right now.

Coming on Strong: I listed Debose above, but he is really making a push and could start sometime soon. Of the four he actually seems the most poised and ready to make plays after the catch. Solomon Patton (SO, 5-9, 180) is the next guy in line and he seems more of a playmaker as well. I imagine we will start seeing more of Patton.

Tight End: Jordan Reed (SO, 6-4, 250); Gerald Christian (SO, 6-3, 235)

Strength: Reed is a play maker and excellent with the ball in his hands. He can stretch the field and has size and strength to go up and make a big play.

Weakness: Reed got hurt last week, but expected back to play. He is not a good blocker at the line of scrimmage and more of a split out tight end. Christian is a better blocker but has shown nothing as a pass receiver.

Coming on Strong: Will Muschamp announced Monday that freshman A.C. Leonard (6-3, 255) practiced again for the first time in weeks. I don't think he plays this week, but before injury (meniscus tear) he may have been the team's best tight end.

Offensive Line: LT Xavier Nixon (JR, 6-6, 300); LG Dan Wenger (SR, 6-3, 295); C Jonotthan Harrison (SO, 6-4, 300); RG Jon Halapio (SO, 6-3, 310); RT Chaz Green (FR, 6-5, 300)

Strength: Wenger is a transfer from Notre Dame and has maybe been the single biggest influence on the offensive line since his arrival in early summer. He really corralled the line and has been a leader in the cohesion of the unit. He is a bonus the team never expected and landed I their lap in May. The tackles are playing well right now and are probably two of the most athletic tackles anywhere. Interior play wasn't great in game one and much better in game two. Halapio is a beast up front and the most aggressive player of the unit. The Gators have decent depth if they stay injury free.

Weakness: Too many penalties up front and a lot of that caused by the youth on the right hand side and starting from the center spot where you have two sophomores and a freshman. Still not sure what this front is going to be able to do against an SEC front, but we find that out this week.

Coming on Strong: Matt Patchan (JR, 6-6, 295) would be starting if not for the excellent play of green. Patchan is a monster and plays extremely aggressive along the lines of Halapio. Kyle Koehne (SO, 6-5, 300) has been a big surprise this fall and may be inserted on definite running downs with his ability to move the man in front of him.

Keeping the Gator offense out of the end zone won't be easy.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)

DEFENSE

Defensive Line: BUCK Ronald Powell (SO, 6-3, 245) DT Jaye Howard (SR, 6-3, 295); NT (SO, Dominique Easley (6-2, 282); DE Sharrif Floyd (SO, 6-3, 295)

Strength: This has been so far and will be a good run stopping line. They also have very quality and experienced depth with DE William Green (SR, 6-4, 255); DT Omar Hunter (SR, 6-0, 310); and less experienced NT Leon Orr (FR, 6-4, 310). They are getting pressure from the middle and have been very good at keeping containment from the outside.

Weakness: We shall see f it improves this week with the return of suspended end Floyd, but they have two sacks in two games, both coming in the opener. They have got to start getting to the quarterback, especially from the outside and if they do they will start making a real difference. Particularly absent from strong play has been Ronald Powell who came to UF as the number one defensive end in the country in the 2010 class. Powell was called out a little bit this week by Muschamp who said he has to do better.

Coming on Strong: Orr is making a few plays with limited time in the game. The return of Floyd is so huge not only because he is likely to be a great player, but because he is a line favorite with all of the boys up there. BUCK Kedric Johnson (SO, 6-3, 235) has played pretty well, but has very little experience.

Linebacker: WILL Jelani Jenkins (SO, 6-3, 230); MIKE Jon Bostic (6-3, 240); SAM Lerentee McCray (JR, 6-2, 252)

Strength: This is probably the strength of the defense and all three starters are playing well. Jenkins is coming off of a freshman All-American season and is the leader on the defense, although Bostic calls the plays. Those two are inseparable on and off the field. Jenkins is a tackling machine that has a nose for the ball while Bostic is fighting through a slumping sophomore season. McCray may end up rushing the passer way more than anyone anticipated and has been a real big positive for this defense early in the year.

Weakness: the linebackers were caught chasing receivers against UAB with a pretty good quarterback but less than average receivers. They need to do a little better in pass coverage although Jenkins already has two pass break ups on the season. Also, back up WILL linebacker Dee Finley who has done next to nothing so far was arrested Monday, but the state attorney's office has already discounted any felony charges that were stemming. No word yet on what Finley's status for the game is, but I don't think he will play.

Coming on Strong: Michael Taylor (FR, 5-11, 220) is someone Tennessee fans will remember. The one time Vol commitment switched up to Florida and is really turning some heads when he plays. Some would tell you that he should be playing ahead of Bostic and I wouldn't argue with that notion. With Finley likely out, Graham Stewart (FR, 6-1, 240) has earned some early plying time this year and Darrin Kitchens (SO, 6-2, 230) is an athletic guy that would play more of a true linebacker role at SAM rather than any sport of real pass rusher like McCray does.

Secondary: CB Marcus Roberson (FR, 6-0, 185); CB Cody Riggs (SO, 5-9, 185); Saf Matt Elam (SO, 6-0, 205); Saf Pop Saunders (FR, 5-10, 190)

Strength: The strengths would have to be the athleticism and instincts of the group. Two true freshmen start in Roberson and Saunders and both have been super this fall. Roberson is tall for a corner and opposite Riggs is very physical even with his smaller stature. Elam is the absolute leader of the bunch as a true sophomore.

Weakness: The experience of the group before this season was almost non-existent. Elam played a good deal last year as a true freshman but mostly in nickel situations and as a nickel playing in the slot. Roberson and Saunders were in high school last year and Riggs did get two starts at corner but his size scares you in this league. There is no experience behind them except for an injured Jeremy Brown (SO, 5-10, 185) who may be back this week and an unproductive senior in Moses Jenkins (SR, 6-2, 195).

Coming on Strong: After losing his starting spot at safety, Josh Evans (SO, 6-0, 195) has made a real push and played very well against UAB. He has size and a lot of speed and can do some things well. At cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy (FR, 6-0, 188) is a very speedy guy with length and can play, but it is his first semester on campus.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Specialists: Punter David Lerner (SR, 6-0, 194); Kicker Caleb Sturgis (JR, 5-11, 183)

Strength: Lerner won the job as a walk-on over a scholarship freshman and then was given a scholarship. He has only two punts to his name and both in the last game. Both were short but also pinned UAB inside their 20-yard line both times. Sturgis is five for five on the season including a 51 yard field goal. He is a really good one that was injured most of last season. He also performs kickoffs and struggled in game one before getting better in game two. Muschamp likes to kick for returns instead of touchbacks or Sturgis would likely kick them all out of the end zone.

Weakness: An untested punter is the biggest concern here.

Returners: PR Chris Rainey; KR Jeff Demps or Andre Debose

Strength: Rainey is dynamic whenever he touches the ball and they like to get it to him as a returner as well. He is electric. Demps and Debose find a crease and hit it hard. Debose tied a school record a year ago with two returns for touchdowns and had a 50 yard return last week. Demps took the opening kick of the season back for a TD, but it was called back erroneously by officiating.

Weakness: Not really too much here. Florida is loaded with speed guys and have a lot of options if need be.

Tennessee defensive tackle Malik Jackson must have a good game to slow down tailback Jeff Demps and the Florida running game.


Inside Tennessee Top Stories