With the 2009 college football season hurdling toward us like Usain Bolt, I felt it was a perfect time to summarize the latest news from Florida Football camp.
The topics discussed in this article are tidbits from Fall practice, and while it is not exclusive news, I felt it would be nice to have one place to find out the most interesting developments on the Gators' football team.
So, only 10 days away from the opener, this is the state of the Gators:
- Tim Tebow is not injured—Yes, he was partly held out of practice for a few full-contact drills. But considering he'll probably take more hits during the season than the Billboard Top 100, I think this is not a big deal. He's a senior who is going into his third year starting, and he knows the playbook.
- Jaye Howard is unlocking his potential—Last Friday, it was announced that redshirt sophomore Jaye Howard had risen above Terron Sanders on the depth chart. Now, with all the rotations and situation-specific lineups that Dan McCarney uses, this is not saying Sanders will not play. In fact, he might not even play less. What it does mean is that the Gators' already staunch defense is getting better. In spring, it was said Howard needed to drastically improve his pass rush to supplant Sanders. Sorry SEC QBs, I hate to break it to you, but I guess he did.
- Lerentee McCray has changed positions—The sophomore former weak-side linebacker will now be playing with his hand on the ground. McCray has switched positions, and is practicing at defensive end. I am not really sure why this move took place—it's kind of like switching lanes in rush hour, only to get stuck behind 37 more cars. Every position on defense is stacked, but apparently the coaches think McCray, with his new added bulk (up to 230 lbs.), can be a playmaker at DE. He has been clocked with a 4.5 second 40 yard dash, so look for him in pass rush situations. McCarney has said he will "definitely play" in the opener against Charelston Southern.
- Dorian Munroe is unlucky—The 5th year senior needs arthroscopic knee surgery (again) on his right knee. Fortunately, this time around it's just a "clean out" procedure and he will only be sidelined for 5-6 weeks. He should be back in time to solidify the secondary for games against Kentucky and LSU. Meanwhile, the good news is that Dee Finley may see the field more and get valuable experience for 2010.
- Will Hill is nasty—Any time a mildly used sophomore can make a run at a three year starter, eyebrows should be raised. Hill "the Thrill" is working his rear off during practices and has been very impressive. He says he wants to be the best player on the field every time he steps on the grass. He is certainly showing that this fall, and with the Gators playing many teams that spread it out, he is in line for a lot of action as the third corner/safety in nickel formations. And Major Wright better watch out, or Hill will never leave the field.
- The offensive depth chart is status quo—There arent many reports of position changes or depth chart shuffling on offense. Star freshman Andre Debose is still learning to adjust to the college game, and will probably start the year backing up incumbents David Nelson, Deonte Thompson, and Riley Cooper at WR. Jeff Demps is the top back, with Chris Rainey and Emmanuel Moody seeing plenty of time. The O-line remains similar to what it was in the spring.
- The offensive look, however, may have some surprises—The fact that everything runs through Tim Tebow is not news to anyone, however Tebow may not get every snap. High school quarterback, and current Florida cornerback, Joe Haden has been rumored to be the new "wildcat" player. While the details of this package are top secret, don't be surprised to see Haden play a little ironman this year. Meyer and company have also been flirting with an I-Form look using the thicker Moody (6'0" 210 lbs) as the feature back. If the Gators can be successful with some hit-you-in-the-mouth football, it could really make preparation a headache for opposing defenses.
- The freshmen are coming along—So far the freshmen that have lost their black helmet stripes (or, have officially become Gators) are: Jonotthan Harrison, Nick Alajajian, Kedric Johnson, Mike Gillislee, Jon Halapio, and Stephen Alli. It may seem shocking that spring standout Jon Bostic and all-world recruit Andre Debose haven't lost their stripes, but word on the street is that this is judged on a sliding scale. The player with more expectations must work harder and earn the removal of that stripe.
I am so pumped for the season, and researching all these practice updates sure made me fired up to discuss Florida Football. I'd love your opinions as to what some of these changes mean for the team, so feel free to open up some chatter in the comments section!
I can't wait to see all the new faces, plays, formations, and fireworks that await in 2009! September 5th can't get here fast enough.