Florida Preview 2006 - Offense
Florida Gators
Posted Aug 8, 2006

Florida Gators Preview 2006 - Florida Gator Offense

What you need to know ...
It's year two of the Urban Meyer offense and the pieces still aren't quite in place after an uneven 2005. Quarterback Chris Leak showed more mobility this spring and should be an even sharper passer, but super-recruit Tim Tebow will see meaningful action and could take over if he lives up to the hype. The receiving corps has the potential to be great as long as Andre Caldwell returns healthy from a broken leg and Dallas Baker steps up as the number one target. There's talent in the backfield, but no one appears able to fit into the scheme. The big issue is on the offensive line with only one starter returning from a group that struggled last season.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Chris Leak
235-374, 2,639 yds, 20 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: DeShawn Wynn
130 carries, 621 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Dallas Baker
52 catches, 697 yds, 5 TD

Star of the offense: Senior QB Chris Leak
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior OTs Phil Trautwein and Drew Miller
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore TE Cornelius Ingram
Best pro prospect: Senior WR Dallas Baker
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Leak, 2) Baker, 3) WR Andre Caldwell
Strength of the offense: Receiver, quarterback
Weakness of the offense: Offensive line

How fast is too fast for the future to arrive? Chris Leak is the unquestionable starter for now, but Tim Tebow appears to be the chosen one to make the Urban Meyer offense sing. Watch for Leak to run the offense with Tebow getting work here and there, but all bets are off if Leak struggles at any time. However, Florida is expected to win the SEC title this season; that will be hard to do with a true freshman. With Gavin Dickey giving up football to play baseball full-time, the backup situation is Tebow, and Tebow.
The key to the unit: The tension of the quarterback situation needs to be eased. Can the Gators afford to take the lumps that go with a true freshman season to play Tim Tebow early on? Will Chris Leak be looking over his shoulder? This will be a soap opera all year long.
Quarterback Rating: 9

Projected Starter
- Chris Leak, Sr. - 235-374, 2,639 yds, 60.7%, 20 TD, 6 INT, 105 carries, 81 yds, 6 TD
Only at Florida can a legitimate Heisman candidate be this close to losing his job. Leak will try to finish off his career as more than just a transitional player between the Steve Spurrier era and the hopeful return to national title prominence under Urban Meyer. While he isn't the type of quarterback who fits the spread offense style, he's hardly immobile and makes up for his average running skills with good decision making ability and a career completion percentage of 61%.
Expect him to make more plays outside of the pocket more this season. He has a nice arm, but not an elite one, and his 6-0, 210-pound size makes him a marginal NFL prospect. His overall umbers dropped last year after throwing for 3,197 yards in 2004, but that's not a big deal since he became more efficient and cut his interception total in half. Now he has to keep producing to hold off the star-in-waiting, Tim Tebow.

Top Backup
- Tim Tebow, Fr.
Tebow will represent the ultimate experiment for the spread offense. Considered to be a near-perfect quarterback to run Urban Meyer's offense, the NFL prospect has 6-3, 229-pound size and the mobility to have rushed for 3,169 yards and 63 touchdowns in high school. There's no sitting on him to redshirt; the coaching staff has already said the hot-shot star is going to play this year. He completed 15 of 21 passes in the spring game.

Running Backs
The talent is there, but no one is able to produce on a consistent basis. Urban Meyer has gone as far as to suggest the offense might not use a tailback if this group plays like it did last season, but that's not going to happen after an improved overall work ethic. Kestahn Moore has to stay healthy and prove he can be a 15-20 carry back, DeShawn Wynn has to live up to his talent, and Markus Manson has to run with more power. Expect this to be tailback-by-committee again until someone emerges.
The key to the unit: A number one runner needs to rise up from the pack and take the job by the horns. At the very least, a reliable back has to emerge.
Running Back Rating: 7.5

Projected Starter
- Kestahn Moore, Soph. - 48 carries, 277 yds, 5.8 ypc, 1 TD, 13 catches, 56 yds, 4.3 ypc, 1 TD
In a perfect world, Moore is the starting back and lasts the season. He has the hands to be used as a receiver finishing fourth on the team in catches, and he has a decent combination of quickness and power as a runner. What he wasn't able to do was produce enough on the ground after starting the first three games. Injury issues were a problem this off-season as he missed most of spring ball with a bulging disc.

Top Backups
- Fullback Billy Latsko, Sr. - 1 carry, 5 yds, 5 catches, 43 yds, 8 tackles
The former walk-on has grown into the vocal leader of the backfield while showing decent blocking ability. He's 5-10 and 231 pounds and has seen a little time as a linebacker as well as at H-Back. Expect him to do a little of everything again.
- DeShawn Wynn, Sr. - 130 carries, 621 yds, 4.8 ypc, 7 TD, 12 catches, 161 yds, 13.4 ypc, 2 TD
The most talented of the Gator backs can't seem to find his groove with the new coaching staff. Wynn spent most of last year trying to get out of Urban Meyer's doghouse and then finished as the team's leading rusher. He was able to tear off 109 yards against Georgia, and then ran four times for 20 yards the following week against Vanderbilt. If the light goes on, he has the all-around ability to be an All-SEC performer.
- Markus Manson, Soph. - 81 carries, 365 yds, 4.5 ypc, 2 TD, 9 catches, 55 yds, 6.1 ypc
Manson has the next-level speed and good size at 6-0 and 210 pounds to grow into a star. Now he has to prove he can stay healthy after missing much of last year with a concussion and he has to run stronger between the tackles. He became the team's top back late last year only to finish up with four carries against Iowa.
- Chevon Walker, Fr.
Walker ran for 2,027 yards and 31 touchdowns as a senior at Riverdale High School in Fort Myers. He was one of the team's top recruits who came to school early to play in spring ball, and will see playing time this year based on how well he can pick up the offense and how quickly he can become a receiver.
- Fullback Eric Rutledge, Jr.
Mostly a special teamer and linebacker last year, the 243-pound Rutledge brings more size to the backfield. he could end up being used as an H-Back.

This will be a strength of the offense even with the loss of leading receiver Chad Jackson to the NFL. Dallas Baker has next-level skills and should shine as the number one target. Andre Caldwell adds a big boost coming back from a broken leg suffered early last year, and Jemalle Cornelius has the speed to push defenses deep. Other targets need to emerge after being too dependent on Jackson and Baker last season, so Kenneth Tookes, Louis Murphy and Nyan Boateng have to be productive. Tight ends Tate Casey and Cornelius Ingram are too good not to get the ball their way.
The key to the unit: More big plays. There's too much speed and talent not to bust off more than the 11.3 yards per catch of last year.
Receiver Rating: 8.5

Projected Starters
- Dallas Baker, Sr. - 52 catches, 897 yds, 13.4 ypc, 5 TD
Baker has carved out a nice career with 91 grabs for 1,316 yards and 11 touchdowns playing mostly as a key number two target. He finished second on the team in receiving last year and exploded over a two-game stretch catching 13 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown against Alabama and Mississippi State, and now he'll be expected to fill the void left by Chad Jackson. He dominated when he got on the field this spring showing that he's ready for an All-SEC caliber season.

- Jemalle Cornelius, Sr. - 29 catches, 383 yds, 13.2 ypc, 1 TD
The athleticism and speed have always been there, now Cornelius has to blow up in his senior year after starting nine games last season and finishing third on the team in receiving. He had to fight through a slew of injuries and struggled over the second half of the season, but he showed a little bit of what he could do with an eight-catch, 138-yard day against Kentucky.

- Andre Caldwell, Sr. - 10 catches, 148 yds, 14.8 ypc
One of the team's most dangerous receivers, the 6-1, 200-pound Caldwell started out well before breaking his leg on a kickoff return against Tennessee. He's a big-time deep threat and great kick returner. Now he'll start out behind Dallas Baker until he gets back to 100% and then should take over a third receiver spot.

- Tight end Tate Casey, Jr. - 10 catches, 121 yds, 12.1 ypc, 1 TD
Is this the year Casey lives up to his vast potential? He has next level skills with good speed and great hands in a 6-6, 242-pound frame, but he hasn't turned into a consistent weapon. He has the size to be a good blocker and should be featured more and more as a receiver.

Top Backups
- Kenneth Tookes, Sr. - 7 catches, 54 yds, 7.7 ypc
While not a special receiver like most of the others in the corps, the 6-2 Tookes has good size and enough experience to grow into a dependable third receiver. With Andre Caldwell returning, Tookes will have to battle to get into the mix after earning the starting job coming out of spring ball.
- Tight end Cornelius Ingram, Soph.
The former backup quarterback looked like a major NFL prospect in spring ball. He's 6-4, 235 pounds, fast, and now he knows what he's doing. When he has everything working, he's next to uncoverable. His blocking might not be anything special, but that won't matter if he's making big plays with his hands. Now he has to prove he can be great in game action.
- Louis Murphy, Soph.
The 6-3 sophomore spent most of last year on special teams and now will look to bring his athleticism to the third wideout spot battling Kenneth Tookes.

Offensive Linemen
If Florida doesn't win the SEC title, the O line might be the problem. Four starters need to be replaced and the only one returning, Steve Rissler, is the only senior. There's a little bit of experience, but it's going to take a while for everything to jell in the complicated offensive scheme. The ground game wasn't great last year with a strong front wall, and this group isn't going to blow anyone off the ball. Pass protection needs to be improved after allowing 35 sacks.
The key to the unit: Jell very, very quickly. The tackles have to be merely adequate while the interior has to be far better for the ground game.
Offensive Line Rating: 7

Projected Starters
- OT
Carlton Medder, Jr.
Purely a special teamer so far, the 315-pound junior brings more size to left tackle than Phil Trautwein. Talent isn't an issue with good athleticism and strength; now he has to produce.

- OG Jim Tartt, Soph.
Tartt hurt his shoulder last off-season and was never quite right finishing with only two starts before undergoing surgery and missing the rest of the year. He's 6-3 and 310 pounds with the potential to be one of the team's best new starting blockers.
- C Steve Rissler, Sr.
Part guard and part center over his career, the 6-3, 310-pound senior will move over from right guard to take over for all-star Mike Degory inside. He started the final seven games of last season and should be more than capable of handling himself in his new role.
- OG Ronnie Wilson, RFr.
One of the top guard prospects in the nation last season, the 6-4, 310-pound Wilson will be expected to grow into the job on the right side. Talent isn't an issue, but experience will be.
- OT Drew Miller, Jr.
Miller will move from guard to tackle to replace Lance Butler. He started the first four games last year on the right side and became a steady reserve. He got stronger this off-season and earned praise from the coaching staff for his work ethic. Pass protection will be his focus early on until he gets used to the new position.

Top Backups
- OT
Phil Trautwein, Jr.
He has plenty of experience, but mostly on special teams and, technically, as a tight end. He's an athletic 6-6 and 309 pounds and in the battle to take over at left tackle for solid starter Randy Hand.

- OT Jason Watkins, Soph.
A special teamer so far, the 6-6, 310-pound sophomore has a ton of upside and will quickly find his way into the rotation behind Drew Miller on the right side. He'll have to prove he can be part of the future early on with several good young prospects waiting in the wings.
- OG Simon Codrington, RFr.
Codrington filled out his 6-7 frame getting up to 310 pounds. Now he appears ready to be a factor on the right side pushing Ronnie Wilson. He could play tackle if needed.

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