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2007 Florida Preview - Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 30, 2007


Preview 2007 Florida Gator Offense

Florida Gators

Preview 2007 - Offense

- 2007 Florida Preview | 2007 Florida Defense Preview
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2007 Florida Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Florida Preview 

What you need to know: Now it's time to see how this baby runs. Now the Urban Meyer spread offense will do what it's supposed to with Tim Tebow at the controls full-time, and with a slew of speedy players around him. The offensive line isn't going to wow anyone, but it's experienced, and good enough to win with. The receiving corps has explosion, led by Percy Harvin, Andre Caldwell, and some tremendous tight ends, and the running backs, with the emergence of smallish speedster Chris Rainey, will have more pop. Now it's up to Tebow to not only shine, but stay healthy with two true freshmen behind him.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Tim Tebow
22-33, 358 yds, 5 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Tim Tebow
89 carries, 469 yds, 8 TD
Receiving: Andre Caldwell
57 catches, 577 yds, 6 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore WR Percy Harvin
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior RB Kestahn Moore
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Louis Murphy
Best pro prospect: Harvin
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Harvin, 2) QB Tim Tebow, 3) WR Andre Caldwell
Strength of the offense: Receiver, experienced offensive line
Weakness of the offense: Backup quarterback, sure-thing running back

Quarterbacks

Projected Starters: Alright, let's see how he can do with the full-time gig. With 6-3, 234-pound size, the power and quickness to be the team's second leading rusher, pounding his way to 469 yards and eight touchdowns, and a rah-rah style that would make your eyes roll if it wasn't genuine, sophomore Tim Tebow will now be one of the most analyzed and scrutinized players in America. Considered to be the prototype for Urban Meyer's spread offense (although Utah's Brian Johnson, a Meyer recruit, might have something to say about that this year), he can do it all. And yes, that includes throwing the ball, which he did throughout spring ball extremely well. Even though he had a banged up shoulder, he was accurate, tough in the pocket, and showed that he's not just a glorified fullback.

Projected Top Reserves: True freshman Cameron Newton is listed as the number two quarterback coming out of spring ball, but that might be temporary. The 6-5, 242-pounder is a bigger version Tebow, without quite the same rushing skills. He's a good runner and an accurate passer, but he's keeping the seat warm for fellow freshman John Brantley, who was so blinded by his desire to play for the Gators (his dad and brother played in Gainesville and his high school coach was former UF star quarterback Kerwin Bell) that he overlooked that fact that No. 15 will be the face of the program for the next three years. The 6-3, 195-pound playmaker could've gone anywhere in the country with his NFL-caliber passing skills and good mobility, and in a perfect world, redshirts this season and has two years as a starter ahead of him down the road. Don't expect that to happen.

Watch Out For ... Tebow to justify all the hype. He really is good. There's a reason he was one of the most sought-after players in America last year, and now he'll show why.
Strength
:
Size and mobility. While we're not quite talking Vince Young here as far as the size/speed ratio, Tebow and Newton are very big, very strong, very tough, and very mobile.
Weakness
:
Backup quarterback. Yeah, Brantley is a superstar recruit, and Newton is a great prospect, but they're also true freshmen. As good as they might be, any and all SEC title dreams go down the drain if something happens to Tebow.
Outlook: Two things to remember here. 1) Chris Leak wasn't always that great, and 2) he won a national championship. Tebow is going to be the better quarterback, but Leak was a calm, unflappable (some say too cool) performer who was always able to overcome adversity to come up with the next play. Tebow is the anti-Leak in his demeanor, which is fine as long as there are results. The bar has been raised higher now. Tebow could be the most talented quarterback to ever play at Florida (which, NFL-wise, isn't really that hard to do), but unless he wins a national championship, he won't be a legend. For now, he just has to stay on the field, for while Newton and Brantley will see time, just like Tebow did last year, it's asking too much for a true freshman to navigate the SEC waters.
Rating: 8

Running Backs


Projected Starter: At the moment, it might be Kestahn Moore or bust. A good receiver with nice all-around skills, the junior will be asked to become the running game until the true freshmen are ready. The true definition of serviceable, he has good power, decent quickness, and excellent blocking skills that make him an unsung cog in the system. He ran for 282 yards and two touchdowns last year, and now he has to prove he can stay healthy for a full season and handle some semblance of a workload. That might be a problem considering he had a hernia problem in spring ball.

Projected Top Reserves: This was supposed to be the year Mon Williams blew up into a star. The ultra-talented sophomore was the projected starter before injuring his knee in spring ball forcing him to redshirt the season.

Speedy Brandon James will someday play a big role after serving as a the team's top kick returner as a true freshman ... maybe. First he has to get over the legal problems stemming from a drug issue. While he's only 5-6 and 178 pounds, his size is actually an advantage when he's able to sneak in and out of the line. He's tough to find behind the big linemen, and should grow into a major weapon in the rotation whenever he's back in the mix.

Redshirt freshman Chevon Walker was going to be buried on the depth chart, and then he got his chance to shine this spring after Williams went down. At 204 pounds, he provides nice power and could be a steady workhorse. The talent is there, but he might be the type of back who needs to be fed the ball consistently to be effective. He could end up being the fourth back in the rotation if true freshman Chris Rainey really is the real deal he's supposed to be. While he's only 5-9 and 156 pounds, he's almost perfect for the spread offense with his next-level speed and toughness. As a senior at Lakeland High in Florida, he ran for 2,478 yards and 32 touchdowns. If he gets a hole, it'll look like he was shot out of a cannon.

Watch Out For ... the coaching staff to complain about the running backs again at some point this year. While Meyer doesn't have DeShawn Wynn to kick around anymore, he doesn't have a sure-thing number one back he can rely on for a full-season. However ...
Strength
:
Tailback-by-committee is a good thing here. Rainey will give defenses fits, while Moore and Walker should be able to provide a little bit of thunder. There are plenty of options for the coaching staff to work with.
Weakness
:
A workhorse. Moore could be one, but can he stay healthy? Walker hasn't quite earned his way into 15 carries a game quite yet, and Williams isn't a 20-carry back.
Outlook: In the end, Tebow will likely be the team's most consistent runner, but that doesn't mean the sparks won't fly from the Gator backfield. Expect at least five jaw-dropping dashes from Rainey, while Moore could be a surprise as he becomes more and more indispensable because of his all-around game.
Rating: 7.5


Receivers


Projected Starters: With top target Dallas Baker gone, its not up to senior Andre Caldwell to become the star number one target for Tim Tebow to rely on game in and game out. Showing almost no ill-effects from a broken leg suffered in 2005, he was second on the team with 57 catches for 577 yards and six touchdowns. While he caught a 66-yard touchdown pass against Florida State, he didn't consistently show off his deep speed and needs to reestablish himself as a home run hitter, along with being a regular on midrange passes.

While Caldwell will likely lead the team in receiving, sophomore Percy Harvin is the star of the corps. A 5-11, 181-pound bolt of lightning, he took a little while to heat up in his true freshman season before becoming a dangerous playmaker as both as running back and a receiver. He was the star of the SEC title game with 105 yards and a score, along with five catches for 62 yards and a touchdown against Arkansas, as part of a great run to end the year with four scores in the final three games. The key will be staying healthy; he has to prove he can take a consistent pounding.

Junior Louis Murphy went from being an afterthought in the passing game, catching two passes for 42 yards with a touchdown against LSU, to one of the stars of spring ball. At 6-2 and 199 pounds, he has good size to go along with the quickness and speed to get down the field in a hurry. He showed in the spring game how well he can exploit the openings when everyone is paying attention to the other targets.

6-4, 221-pound junior Cornelius Ingram is part tight end, part big receiver catching 30 passes for 380 yards and a touchdown. While he's not a big blocker, he's a good, athletic target who has NFL potential if he can keep progressing. The former quarterback can be uncoverable at times.

The team's true tight end is 6-6, 235-pound senior Tate Casey, who's mostly a blocker and a short-range, goal line receiver with six catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns highlighted by being on the receiving end of Tim Tebow's jump pass in the win over LSU.

Projected Top Reserves: Considering how Florida isn't afraid to use freshmen, top recruit Deonte Thompson could quickly find a role. There's a lot of speed on the Gator offense, and then there's Thompson's warp wheels with an NFL-caliber burst. He's a home-run hitter extraordinaire.

While it'll be hard to get Ingram off the field, filling in at the fourth receiver slot, at times, will be 6-0, 200-pound sophomore Jarred Fayson, an emerging playmaker who had a solid spring. More of a runner last year than a receiver, with 14 carries for 126 yards and a touchdown against Western Carolina, the former quarterback appears ready to get some throws his way.

Playing behind Casey, and almost certain to split time as soon as the season starts, is 6-2, 239-pound freshman Aaron Hernandez. Considered by many to be among the nation's top tight end recruits, he's a phenomenal athlete who poses a variety of matchup problems. As tight ends go, he's a deep threat.

Watch Out For ... the tight ends. Ingram and Hernandez are prototypical receiving tight ends, while Casey is a solid, consistent performer who does more of the dirty work. This trio should blow up.
Strength
:
Options. Who do you take away? Double Harvin, and Caldwell will exploit the single coverage. Keep the linebackers focused on the great tight ends, and the running game will open up wide. Forget about Harvin for a split-second, and have six hung on you.
Weakness
:
Proven backup wide receivers. While there's an abundance of riches in the Gator receiving corps, there isn't aw hole bunch to count on right away if a slew of injuries strike. If Harvin gets hurt again and if Caldwell goes down. there could be a few problems.
Outlook: Percy Harvin makes a good corps great, and if Deonte Thompson is ready, this will be a phenomenal group. Andre Caldwell is good, but he's not necessarily a superstar who demands a ton of attention (that's Harvin). However, there are so many weapons to work utilize, there will be plenty of chances for the senior to make some big plays; he has to take advantage. The tight ends have to play up to the advance billing.
Rating: 9

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: The outside is solid and the middle is set after a little bit of movement. 6-5, 297-pound senior Drew Miller started every game last year at right guard, but now he'll move to center replacing Steve Rissler. The team's most versatile veteran lineman, he started off last year considered for a starting tackle spot before moving inside.

Taking over Miller's spot at right guard will be redshirt freshman Maurice Hurt, a 6-2, 317-pound who saw a little big of time but still maintained his redshirt status. A big blocker, his main job will be to get the running game moving. While he has tremendous upside, he'll have to fight this fall to get the job.

Junior Jim Tartt struggled to stay healthy throughout last year, but he ended up starting every game but one. He had problems in the past with a bum shoulder, which caused him to miss almost all of 2005, so staying in one piece for a full year will be a concern. At 6-3 and 312 pounds, he's big and, when healthy, consistent.

One tackle spot is set with the return of 6-6, 298-pound senior Phil Trautwein, who had a nice 2007 and will be a fringe All-SEC performer. The former tight end is extremely athletic, and while he's not a bruising blocker, fits in nicely with the Gator offense.

Senior Carlton Medder started every game at right tackle, but he has a fight on his hands to keep the job. He has all the measurables with strength, quickness, and a 6-5, 318-pound body, but he has to be more consistent and has to prove he can be a steady pass protector against the better SEC speed rushers.

Projected Top Reserves: Medder has the experience to start, but he might have to up his game to hold off redshirt freshman Carl Johnson. At 6-5 and 339 pounds, Johnson is a big presence with NFL potential if he can be solid in pass protection. With his size, he could end up at guard at some point.

Hurt has the inside line at right guard, but he has to hold off true freshmen twin brothers Michael and Maurkice Pouncey. The 6-4, 310-pound Michael is the slightly better of the two and will likely see time right away, but Maurkice, who's the same size, will be an instant part of the rotation and will likely start out on the left side.

Out of the mix for this year is rising star Ronnie Wilson, who was arrested on charges of assault and battery in a dispute that allegedly finished with him pulling out a rifle. He likely would've been a starter at one of the guard spots, but the 6-3, 316-pound sophomore has to go through the legal process and get out of the doghouse.

Watch Out For ... Trautwein and whoever starts at guard to switch places. Trautwein is the team's best tackle and could move fro the left to the right side to protect left-hander quarterback Tim Tebow's blindside.
Strength
:
Experience. This isn't a star-studded group, but it's efficient and experienced. It'll be fine in pass protection and do just enough for the running game, at least in the system, to be an area the coaching staff doesn't have to worry about.
Weakness
:
Veteran reserves. Florida is great at utilizing young players, but it'll have to count on some true freshmen right away to play key roles, especially at guard.
Outlook: This is a good line, but not an elite one, and while the most talented players are unproven and untested, there's a good core of veterans to work around and allow the coaching staff to slowly bring along the backups. This doesn't have to be a bruising, pounding front five, and it doesn't have to be a brick wall in pass protection with the mobile Tim Tebow behind it, but it has to be consistent. This group should be that.
Rating: 8

 

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2007 Florida Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 30, 2007
2007 Florida Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 30, 2007
2007 Florida Preview - Depth Chart
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