Florida Football: Biggest Storylines Heading into Gators' Fall Camp
There’s plenty to talk about as the Florida Gators prepare for a month of fall camp. Whether it’s the adjustments the offense is going to make or the new faces we’re going to see, juicy storylines have made their way to Gainesville.
Fall camp is always the most interesting part of college football’s offseason because it’s made up of the most crucial practices. With the season just weeks away from taking place, the margin of error is slim. It puts pressure on the coaches and players to get in regular-season mode.
Here are the biggest storylines for the Gators in fall camp.
Running Back Pecking Order
I’m not sure it matters who is going to be given the title as Kelvin Taylor’s backup, but all of Florida’s depth at running back does make for great conversation.
Whether it’s Mack Brown, Matt Jones, Adam Lane or Brandon Powell, everybody brings a unique skill set to the table and is more than capable of contributing at a high level. The overall talent at this position is sure to push everybody throughout camp and should help create one of the best backfields in the SEC, if not the country.
Again, I’m not sure it matters who wins the backup job considering everybody is going to get their fair share of touches. But the running back talent does make for a great storyline heading into camp.
New Players on the Field
One of the fun things that happens in fall camp is we get to see all of the new recruits on the field for the first time. Some enrolled early and made their impact felt in the spring, but Florida fans will now get to see everybody.
C.J. Worton is a wide receiver who will compete immediately for playing time. David Sharpe is an offensive lineman who can work his way into a rotation that is razor-thin. Thomas Holley is a defensive lineman who has the ability to turn some heads and earn some playing time along a deep defensive front.
Along with the recruits, Florida will also get wide receiver Andre Debose back on the field and could get a healthy Matt Jones at running back. It’s also going to be interesting to see the progress Alex Anzalone, Matt Rolin and Jeremi Powell have made on their injuries.
Florida has enough talent to be optimistic this season. Things could be taken to the next level if a few new guys can separate themselves from the pack.
How the Secondary Pans Out
The only thing guaranteed about Florida’s secondary is that Vernon Hargreaves III will hold down the fort at one of the cornerback spots.
The other cornerback position will be a battle between two true freshmen in Duke Dawson and Jalen Tabor. It’s the most intriguing position battle of the fall, as both players bring unique skill sets and are far ahead of their time. It’s a battle that could come down to the final practice.
There are two safety positions and four players competing for them this fall. Marcus Maye, Marcell Harris, Jabari Gorman and Keanu Neal all looked good in spring ball and will continue to put pressure on one another for the starting role.
While they all seem to be neck-and-neck, another player to watch is Nick Washington, who was one of the biggest surprises in the spring.
Overall, the majority of Florida’s secondary will be up for grabs over the next month.
Another session of practices, more eyes on the quarterbacks of the Florida Gators.
The improvement of Jeff Driskel is by far the most critical for Florida, as he’s the leader of the team and will be the difference in a turnaround. He has to get more comfortable in the pocket, improve his accuracy and get on the same page with his receivers. This next month will be the most important in Driskel’s career.
While Driskel has his own stuff to figure out, Skyler Mornhinweg and Will Grier will battle things out for the backup job. Mornhinweg has the experience edge and looked great in the spring game, while Grier has added on weight and has the skill set to make things mighty interesting.
As has been the case for the entire offseason, quarterback will be a point of emphasis this fall for Florida.
The biggest and most intriguing storyline for the Gators has been how much the offense has adjusted to offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. It was Florida’s offense that shouldered much of the blame for last season’s struggles, and the unit has to improve greatly if this year is going to be any different.
"In our 15 days of springs, we got a lot more done than I thought we would," Muschamp said. "[Roper is] an outstanding fundamental football coach. Very positive. It was good to see our offensive kids having fun again on the field. Really excited about that."
Now is when things need to be taken to another level. Players need to know the playbook inside and out, guys need to understand the language and everybody needs to be on the same page with the season right around the corner.
There are always going to be hiccups in a new system. It’s important to get much of them out of the way before the real action takes place.