I have a few more random thoughts and musings.
The Final Four
This is a really good group of four teams meeting in North Texas. Not Dallas. Not Arlington. North Texas. I’m not really sure why but all you hear is North Texas. But the competition should be spectacular. I have felt pretty confident about Florida’s chances in every game so far in the NCAA tournament, but I must admit that I think any of these four teams is as good a pick to win it all as any of the others.
Florida has done nothing to make me question their #1 status. However, UConn is playing great basketball and Shabazz Napier is money on those clutch shots to win games. If the Gators want to advance to Monday night, they probably need to avoid a situation where UConn can win it on a final shot. The key to beating UConnwill be turnovers. Florida should have the advantage rebounding and inside scoring. UConn will shoot well. More importantly, they are quick and long with even quicker hands. Lazy passes (something the Gators have been guilty of at times) will get stolen for fast break points. UConn will score and score regularly. Any extended cold stretches for Florida could spell doom.
I think Florida matches up very well with Wisconsin but I’m not sure I would want to see the Gators face the prospect of a fourth game this season against Kentucky. I think the Gator defense can handle Wisconsin’s 7-footer and hold Wisconsin to under 60 points. Kentucky on the other hand is immensely talented and seem to be playing better as a team every game.
Personally, I think that Florida ends up beating Kentucky for the fourth time for the championship but that might just be my heart talking.
Usually practice reports that you get during the spring are related in a favorable light. I am not saying that they are untrue but it DOES usually sound like everyone on the team is making great strides for every team during the spring. And this makes it even more concerning that reports on the Gators’ quarterbacks have not exactly been glowing. I have high hopes that Kurt Roper will work magic with the quarterbacks and there is certainly plenty of time left for that to happen before the first game, but it does not seem that Jeff Driskel has thrived as much in the new offense as I had hoped he would.
One player that I think will contribute considerably this fall is Adam Lane. Lane will give the Gators that power back for those critical short yardage situations that they have lacked since Tim Tebow graduated. In practice reports he has been catching passes out of the backfield. That ability gives the Gators options on third and two. Of course, after the last few years, I am skeptical as to whether having the ability will translate into actually seeing it in a game.
I hope that Dante Fowler has become an absolute beast on the defensive line. If not, there are a lot of offensive line concerns because I keep hearing about him abusing an assortment of linemen. It sounds like Jalen Tabor may be making a case for the starting spot opposite Vernon Hargreaves III. A sophomore and a freshman manning the corners is a little scary. However, I am quite confident that the Gator defense will be extremely good again this year. I have resolved myself to the fact that I am going to know very little about the real state of this team after spring practice. Hopefully, there will be an actual Orange and Blue game so I can at least get a look at the new offense in game-like situations.
The ladies were cruising along abusing competition until they got into their conference schedule. Since then it has not been pretty. The Gators were undefeated when they hit the SEC part of their schedule. They are 5-7 in conference play. It must be pointed out that the SEC is THE dominant conference in the sport at this point, but the Lady Gators need to right the ship if they still have championship aspirations or want to host a Super-Regional.
The baseball team on the other hand seems to have found their stride. They also are deep into their conference schedule and are 13-4 in their last 17. Kevin O’Sullivan seems to have his troops coming together at just the right time but there is still a long way to go in the regular season. As with softball, the only real concern is making it into the NCAA tournament and hopefully hosting a regional. But, there is a lot of work to do still for that.