Throughout the football season we will have a weekly mailbag answering all of your questions about the Florida Gators football team. We will also be giving you the latest inside scoop on the team as they progress through the 2013 season.
With Gator football less than 24 hours away, we are excited to bring you the first mailbag of the 2013 season.
Q: What is the staff’s assessment on Adam Lane and Kelvin Taylor? Do they think they will be able to contribute my mid-season?
A: The two young running backs have a lot to do to gain favor with the coaches. They both need to do a better job of recognizing who their man is in pass protection and both need to realize that running the football is only part of what they will be asked to do in order to play football at Florida.
It’s tough for a player like Taylor. He’s been the man at Glades Day since eighth grade. He was rarely — if ever — asked to block and was not really a factor in the passing game either. He needs to become a more well-rounded running back if he wants to get on the field this season.
Q: What is you opinion of how the staff feels about this year’s team? Strengths? Weaknesses?
A: The staff is very confident going into this season. The goal is always to get to Atlanta and they feel like that is an attainable goal this season. The strength of this team is going to be along the defensive line and at corner, as well as an improved running game behind an upgraded offensive line.
The staff is most concerned with depth at linebacker, tight end and kicker. Austin Hardin is a talented player and he has more than enough leg and accuracy to become a great kicker at Florida, but he’s untested. How will he handle adversity? What will happen after he misses a kick, how will he handle it?
Q: Do you predict a more wide-open offense this year, or still a three yards and a cloud of dust, grind it out gameplan?
A: Being able to stay in the same playbook for a second straight season will help the offense more than you know. I think that Florida will try to open the offense more, especially early in the season and early in games. With that being said, Will Muschamp doesn’t care about winning games in a flashy or sexy way. He’d be more than happy with a 2-0, defensive struggle that saw the Gators come out on top. If Muschamp feels like the team can win a game by pounding the ball on the ground 20-plus times in a row like they did against LSU, than that’s what the offense is going to do.
Q: Do you think Florida will ever have a 1,000-yard back and receiver in the same season?
A: Ever? Yes. This season? No.
1,000-yard backs are going to become the norm in Gainesville as long as Muschamp keeps recruiting the way he has and the offense is run like it was the past two seasons, but I don’t think Florida passes enough this season — specifically to one person — for the Gators to have a 1,000-yard receiver.
Q: What position — other than quarterback — is the staff concerned about lack of quality depth in case of injuries?
A: Linebacker is the position that has been mentioned most when the coaches talk about being worried about lack of depth. But with injuries starting to pile up on the offensive line a little bit, a couple more would cause concern about depth there. The staff still likes the depth they have at offensive line even with Chaz Green out and Jon Halapio absent until Tennessee, but any more injuries on the line will start eating into that depth.
Q: Is the depth chart for running back a way to light a fire under Taylor and Lane? Do you expect it to change, or are their problems going to keep them on the bench and potentially get them a redshirt?
A: The depth chart is misleading. Valdez Showers is not a running back in the sense of Lane, Taylor, Brown or Herndon. He’s playing Omarius Hines’ role from last season as more of a change of pace back that is going to be used more as a receiver out of the backfield. Hines had 20 carries last season and I would be very surprised to see Showers surpass that mark.
The depth chart could be a way to light a fire under the freshmen but they know what they need to do. Kelvin Taylor has some maturing that he needs to do and both players need to be better in pass protection.
Q: How concerned are the coaches about Chaz Green’s season ending injury?
A: They feel bad for Chaz because he was finally healthy after dealing with injuries all last season but they are still comfortable with the depth they have on the offensive line.
Q: Do the coaches have more confidence in the communication responsibilities of the new starting safeties?
A: I don’t know if Riggs and Maye are at the level that Elam and Evans were last season, but they are the two safeties that stood out the most in this aspect.
Q: How much latitude will Muschamp give Brent Pease to open things up offensively?
A: I think Florida will try to open things up early in games and early on in the season. Muschamp isn’t concerned about “winning sexy” so if he feels that running gives the team the best chance to win, that’s what the offense will do.
Q: How much will Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins be missed at linebacker?
A: Those are two very tough players to lose but Florida is confident in the players that are filling in for them.
Q: Is Florida really going to mix it up and play more 3-4 defense this season or is it just coach speak?
A: With Ronald Powell playing at SAM, you will see a lot more odd-man fronts for the team and more 3-4 defenses. But Powell can play standing up or with his hand down, as can Fowler Jr. so it’s not really a conventional 3-4 in the sense of having a huge nose tackle, two big defensive ends and a speed rusher off of the edge.
Q: Chris Wilkes, anything to report on this kid?
A: He’s not part of the gameplan for Saturday.
Q: Who is Florida seriously looking at to take over at tight end?
A: Right now it’s Clay Burton. I still think Colin Thompson gives the Gators the biggest dual-threat of combo player at the position but he hasn’t been able to separate himself yet.