2007 Florida Preview - Offense
Florida Gator Offense
Preview 2007 - Offense
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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.
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
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
Strength of the offense: Receiver, experienced offensive
Weakness of the offense: Backup quarterback, sure-thing
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.