The Florida Gators have finished all of their spring practices leading up to the Orange and Blue Debut, which, for most of the spring, has been shrouded in uncertainty.
Low numbers at key positions have made it hard for the Gators to even get through spring practice, let alone worry about how to create an atmosphere that is fun for fans who will travel to Gainesville from all over the country to see their Gators on Saturday.
First year head coach Jim McElwain has been noncommittal on what the format would be this spring but Thursday the UAA released a statement saying that Florida would indeed hold a “game” like event with four 12-minute quarters with a running clock. The clock will go into normal time (stopping for incompletions and players running out of bounds with the ball) with two minutes left in the second and fourth quarters. There will also be an untimed “overtime” scenario after the four quarters of play.
“We’re going to try to work. We’re hanging on from the O-line standpoint, believe me,” McElwain said. “We’re going to try to go 12-minute quarters, actually have two teams and have as much a competitive game (as possible), using some of the special teams, but not live.”
This news is good. There will, at least, be an attempt at having a traditional spring game despite the lack of depth on the roster. It’s a welcome reprieve from the situation of two years ago where Florida’s spring game was a glorified practice that left fans upset.
Still, temper your expectations. Florida simply doesn’t have enough offensive linemen to create two teams, roll a ball out and let them go at it.
A traditional “spring game” is impossible for the Gators to execute and, quite frankly, would be counterproductive to the team in the long run.
“We’re still kind of piecemealing those groups together right now,” said McElwain. “Yet I think we’ll be able to go, we’ll have a good competitive game as much as we can.”
Florida is lacking depth at linebacker and running back but the real detriment is along the offensive line. With Trip Thurman out nursing an injury and a new injury to Rod Johnson last week, Florida is left with six scholarship offensive linemen healthy enough for the Orange and Blue game.
“We’re out on the waiver wire. So, if you know of anybody. Any of you guys want to go, let’s go,” McElwain joked.” We’ve got a crew of six guys coming in that, as I’ve explained to them, it’s not like you’re going to stand in line at Disney World, you’s in the Fast Pass line. You’re on the ride right now.”
Florida will give it the old college try on Saturday but fans attending the game and even watching from home need to temper their expectations as to what they will actually see on the field this Saturday.