Early look: Offense
Gators hope offseason allows passing game to take a step forward
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- GatorNation takes a look at the projected offensive depth chart for the 2013 Florida Gators in the upcoming spring practice. The defensive depth chart was examined on Wednesday. Classifications in parentheses are for the 2013 season, and an asterisk denotes a player who enrolled early:
Jeff Driskel (Jr.) -- Tyler Murphy (RJr.), Skyler Mornhinweg (RFr.) Now that Jacoby Brissett has transferred, Driskel is the clear starter. This is an important offseason for him, because he has to get better in the pocket and improve on reading defenses and getting rid of the ball early. Most of it is stuff he can work on in the film room and while throwing on his own. Driskel has to stay healthy, because Murphy and Mornhinweg have never thrown a pass in a college game, but that doesn't mean the Gators aren't going to call running plays for him. His running ability brings an extra element to the offense.
Matt Jones (So.) -- Kelvin Taylor* (Fr.), Mack Brown (Jr.) Jones really came on toward the end of his freshman season after a chat with coach Will Muschamp in which Muschamp told him to stop dancing around in the backfield and hit the hole. Jones gained 183 of his 275 yards in the final six games, including 81 yards against Florida State and the nation's No. 1 rush defense. Taylor, ESPN's top-ranked running back in 2012, is the son of former UF standout Fred Taylor, and the younger Taylor is more advanced than his father was at this point in his career. He'll get plenty of work in the spring. Brown, who has rushed for 167 yards in his career, is in danger of not getting on the field and could be passed by another recruit, Adam Lane, in the fall.
Hunter Joyer (Jr.) -- Trey Burton (Sr.) Joyer is everything you want in a fullback. He's big (5-foot-10, 249 pounds), strong (he bench presses more than 450 pounds), and unselfish. He was a big reason Mike Gillislee rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2012. Burton is the ultimate utility player. He lines up at quarterback, running back, fullback, tight end and receiver. He's also one of the smartest players on the team. This is a position the Gators don't have to worry about at all.
Wide receiver (X)
Andre Debose (RSr.) -- Latroy Pittman (So.), Demarcus Robinson* (Fr.), Solomon Patton (Sr.) Debose is listed first by default. While he has battled attitude, work ethic and consistency issues throughout his career, he has produced when he has been on the field. He averages 18.7 yards per catch and already has returned a school-record four kickoffs for touchdowns. But if he can't get out of the doghouse, the staff likely will turn to Pittman, who wowed the coaches last spring as an early enrollee but caught just two passes this past season. Robinson might be the most talented receiver on the roster after Debose, but he's young and is just learning the system. UF needs him to develop quickly, though, because of the lack of playmakers.
Wide receiver (Z)
Quinton Dunbar (RJr.) -- Raphael Andrades (So.), Stephen Alli (Sr.) Dunbar is UF's most experienced receiver, with 50 career catches, but after him this spot is wide open. The Gators have gotten very little production out of the receivers the past three seasons. Andrades was used mainly as a blocker (like Pittman) and Alli is a special teams player who has three career catches. Help will be coming in the fall, with four more recruits expected.
Thompson was supposed to get playing time in 2012, but a second surgery on his foot kept him off the field. He's the starter because he's more of a blocker than receiver, and the Gators are run-oriented. Taylor, who caught two passes for 5 yards and a TD last season, is a flex tight end. UF would be wise to use him similar to the way the Gators used to use Aaron Hernandez to take advantage of his athletic ability. Burton, who dropped two passes last season, and Westbrook are nothing more than blockers.
Humphries is an amazing athlete who has great quickness and strength and benefitted from the playing time he got last season. He should step right into the starting job. He should also have bulked up after a full offseason in the weight program. Moore, a transfer from Nebraska, will compete for the job at right tackle but could play here if needed.
Max Garcia (RJr.) -- Koehne (RSr.), Trip Thurman (RSo.) Garcia sat out last season after transferring from Maryland, and the coaching staff loved how hard he went in practice even though he couldn't play in games. Redshirt freshman Jessamen Dunker would have competed with Garcia for the spot, but his status is unclear after his offseason arrest. Junior Ian Silberman also would have been in the mix, but he had offseason shoulder surgery and isn't likely to take part in spring practice. Koehne can play several spots on the line of scrimmage.
Jonotthan Harrison (RSr.) -- Koehne (RSr.) Harrison has started every game the past two seasons, and he's the unquestioned starter heading into the spring. UF will work several other players here as well.
Jon Halapio (RSr.) -- Koehne (RSr.), Tommy Jordan (RSo.) Halapio also started every game the past two seasons and has this spot locked down. He could be one of the players who cross-train at center in case of an injury to Harrison.
Chaz Green (RJr..) -- Moore (RJr.) This will be an interesting battle. Green has started 19 games over the past two seasons but has missed time with injuries. He has been solid when he played. Moore started four games as a freshman at Nebraska.
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