Spring camp has come and gone. Kurt Roper has installed his new offense and will take the field in front of the Gator faithful for the first time as the offensive coordinator at Florida. His opponent might be the best defense he faces all season and the Gators will scrimmage on Saturday in the Orange and Blue Debut to culminate spring camp.
Last spring the team was wrought with a multitude of injuries that forced the annual spring game to turn into a practice. This season, the Gators made it out of spring healthy enough to host a traditional spring game. Well, traditional in the sense that there will be four quarters and live tackling but not traditional in the sense that the first team offense and defense will square off against each other.
The Florida coaching staff only gets 15 opportunities to coach their team before handing them off to the strength and conditioning team and they won’t waste a snap, preferring to go “good on good” for the game.
With the first team offense squaring up against the first team defense, here are five offensive players fans should be looking at on Saturday as key players to watch not just this spring but players that will need to step up this fall for the Gators.
The Maryland transfer spent time playing both left guard and left tackle last season but has moved to center to replace Jonotthan Harrison. Garcia has been a little inconsistent this spring snapping the football but he is one of the smartest linemen on the roster and a good fit for the position.
With Florida moving to a new offense that will run mainly out of the shotgun it will be important for Garcia to work on getting clean snaps back to his quarterbacks. It’s not an easy transition for a player who started his career as a left tackle but tomorrow he’ll have the chance to show the fans just how far he’s come.
Taylor fell just 35 yards short of being the first freshman to lead Florida in rushing since his father, Fred Taylor, accomplished the feat. With Matt Jones sidelined for most of the spring, Taylor has assumed the starting role at tailback.
What may be most telling about how much separation Taylor has created at the position is how much we actually see him tomorrow. Will he get the treatment that Jones received last year and spend most of the day on the sideline to allow the coaches to get a look at the rest of the running back stable or will he take the lion’s share of the reps. You may see a lot of Taylor tomorrow, you’ll certainly see a lot of him this fall but it may be more telling if we don’t see much of him tomorrow.
Robinson had a roller coaster recruitment and freshman season. After enrolling early, Robinson took the team by storm last spring, impressing with his natural big-play ability. Robinson dealt with maturity issues off the field that kept him from making an impact on it last fall but he’s once again put on a show this spring.
Robinson is an electric player who can turn a five-yard catch into a 50-yard touchdown in the blink of an eye.
This offense shouldn’t suit Westbrook. After all he’s a converted defensive end trying to fit into a fast paced, spread out offense. The past two seasons, Westbrook was used mainly as a blocker but this spring he has emerged as the tight end with the best hands.
Westbrook is playing the best football of his career as he heads into his senior season and he’ll display that for the fans in the spring game.
We would be remiss to not mention Driskel who is, perhaps, the most crucial piece of the offensive puzzle this season.
Driskel doesn’t need to be a Heisman Trophy contender for the Gators to have success this season but he does need to be consistent. The new offense is a familiar one — similar to what he ran in high school — which should help the fourth-year junior with that consistency.
Driskel will step back into the Swamp for the first time since breaking his leg against Tennessee and show Gator fans how far he has come in just 15 practices.