Florida bye week mailbag

With a gauntlet of a schedule staring the team in the face, the Gators took the week off to get healthy and re-focus following a difficult lose to stomach down in Miami. Just because the team took a week off doesn’t mean the mailbag does, let’s get to your best questions of the week.

Q: How are the players reacting to the loss? Could this be a wakeup call?

A: I think losing early is much better than losing later in the season. The thing about Florida’s loss is that the team feels like they didn’t get beat last Saturday but that they gave the game away. They have been using it as motivation and the mood in the locker room is re-focused.

Q: Which freshmen players will redshirt this year?

A: I think all of the freshmen offensive linemen will redshirt as well as Jordan Sherit, Nick Washington (medical), Johnny Townsend, Marqui Hawkins, Matt Rolin (medical), Rod Johnson, Max Staver and Adam Lane.

Q: What are you hearing about the tight end situation?

A: I’ve been told that there is no change in the depth chart at tight end but that both Kent Taylor and Colin Thompson can still earn playing time.

Q: Will Jon Halapio be ready for the Tennessee game.

A: I’ve been told he will.

Q: Any sense that the coaching staff is concerned about Driskel’s decision making, particularly under pressure in the pocket?

A: I don’t think you can watch the Miami game again and not be concerned with what you saw of Driskel as far as pocket presence.

Q: What have the coaches said, if anything, about the defense starting slow against Miami?

A: The defense knows that they need to start games better. While I don’t think that Miami needed motivation or came into the game thinking they couldn’t hang with the Gators, Muschamp does have a point when he says that the defense needs to start games stronger. The defense as a whole knows this and I believe they will respond in a big way against Tennessee.

Q: Any chance that any of the other tight ends get some more opportunities against Tennessee.

A: Unless Thompson or Taylor step up in a big way during practice next week you should expect to see a lot of Clay Burton.

Q: Overall, what adjustments will the Gators make in the wake of the loss to Miami?

A: Ball security is No. 1. Florida has absolutely dominated teams the past three seasons when they win the turnover battle. They will stress takeaways on defense and protecting the football on offense.

Q: Will the staff re-think having Tyler Moore at right tackle?

A: More actually impressed me against Toledo. You all know that I have been critical of Moore as a tackle but he looked good in the opener. He looked like an entirely different player against Miami and is dealing with a sprained ankle that has him slowed. He won’t practice until next week and I think that with a good week of practice Trenton Brown could earn a start if Moore isn’t 100%.

Q: Just how bad is the injury to Humphries?

A: I was told by a source that if Jon Halapio was healthy and could have played, that Humphries wouldn’t have. However, the buy week came at a great time for Humphries. A MCL sprain – which is what he is dealing with – is a three-week injury. He should be 100% or close to it against Tennessee.

Q: How are the freshmen running backs coming along?

A: I expect Lane to redshirt this season, as I’ve said since the preseason. I’ve been told that Kelvin Taylor still has a lot of growing up to do. He needs the switch to flip and he needs to get it. He’s talented as a runner but there is more to the position than just toting the rock.

Also, in the mind of the coaching staff Matt Jones is the unquestioned starter and Mack Brown earned carries with his performance against Toledo.

Q: If the Gators keep having offensive line injuries what are the plans to help with the production?

A: There isn’t much you can do here except plug in the next guy and go. If you see even more significant injuries to the line you’ll see Florida using their 22 personnel (2RB, 2TE) in an effort to get more bodies on the field who can chip and help block.

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC