Game Title: Orange and Blue Debut
Date: Saturday, April 6
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Television Broadcast: Sun Sports
Note: A live stream of the game will be provided online by Fox Sports Florida for out-of-state viewers.
Radio Broadcast: Gator IMG Sports Network
Practice Schedule: Begins March 13 and concludes on April 6
For the first time since a disappointing loss to the Louisville Cardinals in the Sugar Bowl, Gator fans will be able to see their beloved team in action in the Orange and Blue Debut, the squad's annual spring scrimmage.
Although it technically does not "count" as a real game, the spring game is an opportunity for coaches to get an up-close look at new recruits and assess the immediate chemistry among each unit of their team. In Florida's case, it will be a chance for Will Muschamp and his staff to see what needs tweaking in order for the Gators to repeat their 2012 success.
In any case, there are a few important story lines to keep an eye on in this tilt. These are the ones I will be keenly watching.
Debut of Taylor and Destination of Hargreaves III
No two recruits have the population of Gainesville more excited than Vernon Hargreaves III and Kelvin Taylor. The ESPN 5-star recruits are thought by many to be two of the nation's most talented freshmen.
The son of former Florida and NFL star Fred Taylor, Kelvin looks to be of the same mold as his father. He has a deadly combination of agility and power that should make him an immediate contender for extended playing time in Florida's backfield.
Hargreaves, meanwhile, backed up his hype by winning MVP honors in the Under Armour All-America Game. The talented corner is a ball hawk in the making. He has the speed to keep up with the fastest receivers in the conference and the hand-eye coordination to intercept any pass thrown in his direction.
It will be interesting to see what Taylor can do in his first live-game action in college. It will also be interesting to see if any of the Gator corners can do anything to keep Hargreaves from immediately earning the starting nod once he enrolls.
The Wide Receiver Battle
To say the Gators have not had a dependable wide receiver the past two seasons would be a huge understatement. With tight end Jordan Reed headed for the NFL, Florida is now forced to find a new go-to target for Jeff Driskel. The problem, however, is that no current receiver on the roster has done anything to suggest that he can be the next reliable No. 1 option.
Quinton Dunbar put up respectable numbers last season, especially during the second half of Florida's schedule. However, he is not much of a deep threat and does not have the ideal skill set of a star pass-catcher.
Andre Debose possesses the talent, but he also has a notoriously poor work ethic and attitude. This spring game could be the first step towards his emergence. Then again, that has been said the past two years and nothing has come of it.
The wild cards in this whole equation are the talented freshmen that are now in the fold. Demarcus Robinson, Ahmad Fulwood and Alvin Bailey are expected to be big contributors to this offense. The big question remaining is whether or not it happens as early as this fall. This game could be a big indicator of their immediate value.
Finding Replacements for Key Departures
There is no denying the fact that the Gators lost a ton of talent to graduation and the NFL, especially on defense. This game will be the first chance for the Gator faithful to see how key replacements have developed over the spring.
Linebacker and safety are two positions in particular that hold importance. Antonio Morrison seems to be the likely replacement for Jelani Jenkins after being named All-Freshman SEC. Neiron Ball is another name expected to pick his game up. Furthermore, recruits Daniel McMillian, Alex Anzalone and Matt Rolin bring an immense level of talent to Gainesville.
As for safety, Brian Poole is one player to keep an eye on. The former Scout.com 5-star prospect looks to be in control of a starting position. Meanwhile, Keanu Neal and Marcell Harris are beginning their Gator careers as two of the country's most highly touted safeties of the 2013 class.
This game will be an opportunity for each of these players to make an impact on the minds of Florida's coaches and fanbase.
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