Thursday, May 12, 2011
Florida spring wrap
By Edward Aschoff
2010 overall record: 8-5
2010 conference record: 4-4
Offense: 7, defense: 4, kicker/punter: 1
QB John Brantley, RB Chris Rainey, RB Jeffrey Demps, OT Xavier Nixon, WR Deonte Thompson, LB Jelani Jenkins, LB Jon Bostic, CB Jeremy Brown
C Mike Pouncey, OT Marcus Gilbert, OG Maurice Hurt, LB A.J. Jones, DE Justin Trattou, CB Janoris Jenkins, S Ahmad Black, P Chas Henry
2010 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Demps* (551 yards)
Passing: Brantley* (2,061 yards)
Receiving: Thompson* (570 yards)
Tackles: Black (108)
Sacks: Duke Lemmens (4)
Interceptions: Janoris Jenkins, Brown* (3)
1. Disruptive defensive line: The Gators will enter the fall with a more aggressive and athletic defensive line. Omar Hunter fought through injury to have a solid spring while freshmen Sharrif Floyd, Dominique Easley and Ronald Powell made tremendous strides this spring. Each under achieved last fall, but came out of spring as three of the most improved players for Florida. Powell will be a hybrid linebacker/defensive end known as the buck, while Floyd and Easley get solid time in interior of the line. Floyd will also share time at nose guard with Hunter in the 3-4. Senior Jaye Howard should also return just fine at tackle after recovering from ankle surgery this spring. Add William Green to end and the Gators should have a much improved pass rush.
2. The tight end is back: After failing to get much out of the tight end spot last fall, Florida has moved Jordan Reed back to the position after a stint at quarterback in 2010. Reed’s teammates think he might be the most versatile player on offense and is one of the most athletic players on the team. He increased his cardio this spring to improve his speed and was a favorite target of quarterback Brantley. Also, true freshman A.C. Leonard was one of the early enrollees to make a strong impression. Expect the Gators to actually use two tight end formations.
3. Muschamp approved: Florida is breaking in a brand new coaching staff this season. New coach Will Muschamp brought in a staff loaded with NFL experience, but replacing Urban Meyer, who won two national titles in six years at Florida, is a tall order. The pressure has been on him since he officially took over after the Outback Bowl. Things started a little rocky with him closing spring practices, and the spring game wasn’t exactly the most exciting first look at this new Florida team. However, the players have bought into Muschamp’s new approach. He’s also making sure the discipline issues from a year ago vanish. Booting All-SEC corner Janoris Jenkins was a powerful first step.
1. Offensive revival: Florida’s offense was hard to watch last year, and the spring game didn’t make it any easier. While the spring game is just a glorified scrimmage, without seeing what happened during regular practices, no one is sure what Florida’s offense will truly look like this fall. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is known for having a pass-friendly offense, but none of Florida’s quarterbacks got into much of a rhythm during the game. It’s hard to believe that was the offense we’ll see from Florida, but without any other observations to go on everyone is left wondering.
2. Secondary strength: Losing Janoris Jenkins was a major blow to Florida’s defense. He was arguably Florida’s best all-around player and he was one of the top cornerbacks in the country last season. None of Florida’s current corners can truly replace his ability to completely take one side of the field away. Brown and Cody Riggs got a lot of playing time last year, but neither has Janoris Jenkins' experience. As for strong safety, Matt Elam is more athletically gifted than Ahmad Black, but replacing his leadership and football IQ will be tough. Figuring out the free safety spot is also a concern.
3. Offensive line woes: The Gators lost four offensive linemen from a year ago and spent most of the spring just trying to field enough able bodies for practice. Florida returns sophomore Jon Halapio and junior Nixon, but the rest of the new faces are also very young. Freshman Chaz Green started at left tackle this spring, while fellow frosh Ian Silberman moved from tackle to guard. An injury to center Nick Alajajian forced Jonotthan Harrison to move from guard to center. The line was manhandled during the spring game, but most of that was because of injuries. Regardless, the inexperienced offensive line enters the offseason as one of the Florida’s biggest concerns.