Spring camp was filled with position battles that raged on into fall. On both sides of the ball, positions were up for grabs and while some of those — namely the backup quarterback an slot receiver — were answered, the Florida Gators still have some questions lingering with just four days until toe meets leather and the football season commences.
Time is running out, and how these players will certainly be taken into account when the long-term starters at each spot are picked, but Muschamp wants to have a concrete starting lineup — something Florida didn’t have last season — by opening day.
Tyler Moore vs. Trenton Brown
Trip Thurman has returned from a shoulder injury and found a home as the starting left guard. That pushed Tyler Moore back to the left side where he and Trenton Brown are still competing for the starting spot there.
Moore caught a lot of flak last season (I’m guilty of dishing some out as well) for his play at tackle. The move inside has benefitted him greatly. Moore has looked solid at both left and right guard and will compete for a starting job. He’s also a candidate to play all three interior positions on the line.
Trenton Brown is another player who has done well with a move from tackle to guard but, unlike Moore, would still rep at tackle in an emergency situation. Brown is a mountain of a man and while some question his height being an issue at guard, the coaching staff does not see it that way.
I think Trenton Brown will take this job and the start on Saturday night but the coaching staff won’t hesitate to sub in Moore if Brown starts to struggle.
Kelvin Taylor vs. Mat Jones vs. Mack Brown
There was no official starter named on the depth chart with an “or” planted in-between all three backs.
However, this isn’t a battle. I think Kelvin Taylor gets the first carry against Idaho but that all three running backs will carry the ball a lot this season. This is sort of like the cornerback spot where being named a “starter” might not mean as much as you would think.
Don’t forget about Brandon Powell, the speedy freshman will make an impact this season despite not being listed on the depth chart.
J.C. Jackson vs. Quincy Wilson
With Brian Poole moving over to outside cornerback from his position as a nickel last year, the battle here is for his backup. Poole will still take reps as the nickel — Florida plays in a nickel defense upwards of 70% of the defensive snaps — so this battle isn’t really raging like some of the others.
Expect J.C. Jackson to get a lot of playing time as well as Quincy Wilson, Duke Dawson and Jalen Tabor.
Nick Washington vs. Marcell Harris
The two redshirt freshmen are competing for the backup job behind Jabari Gorman. Other than Keanu Neal, there really isn’t a solid plan for how the reps will shake out at safety so this competition is still very open.
Austin Hardin vs. Frankie Velez
Your guess is as good as mine.
Heck, your guess is probably as good as the coaching staff’s right now. This is a competition that the coaching staff wanted to figure out in the spring and, yet, here we are, 96 hours and counting to the season and still no kicker.
There is, at least, some confidence in how the two have performed, something that lacked last year.
“We haven’t decided yet as far as Austin [Hardin] or Frankie [Velez] who will kick,” said Muschamp. “We’ve got confidence in both guys. Both guys had really strong camps, but we can win with both guys; I do know that.”
Kyle Christy vs. Johnny Townsend
This could be troubling for Kyle Christy.
Starting Christy this season makes too much sense. He’s a senior, he’s a NFL talent punter and playing him affords you the opportunity to redshirt Johnny Townsend (a NFL talent himself) and keep him around for an extra season.
The fact that this isn’t Christy’s job outright already is concerning.
I still think, based on the limited live punting we saw this fall, that Christy will win the job and the dream scenario of being able to redshirt Townsend plays out. That is, of course, dependent on Christy returning to the form he showed capable of in 2012.
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