With the season a day away GatorCountry.com spoke with former Florida quarterback Chris Leak to get his thoughts on the upcoming season for the Gators.
After leading Florida to the 2007 BCS National Championship, Leak knows what it takes to reach the top of the college football world. A four-year starter at Florida who still owns UF records for career passing yardage (11,213), completions (895) and attempts (1,458), he went on to play for the Chicago Bears, the Canadian Football League and last suited up for the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League. He now hosts the radio show “College Sports Coast to Coast” multiple nights each week with Chris Childers. The national broadcast airs at various times on Saturdays and weekdays from 7-10 p.m. on SiriusXM College Sports Nation, channel 91.
Leak has joined up with GatorCountry.com to provide his insights each week throughout the season. His thoughts on the previous game and upcoming game will be published each Friday. This week, he offers his thoughts on Will Muschamp, the quarterback situation, the team in general and much more.
Andrew Spivey: Talk about coach Will Muschamp for a second. What are your thoughts on him and what’s your relationship like with him?
Chris Leak: “He has done a great job with everything that he has had to deal with from what he took over. I think he has done all of things he needed to do to transition from Year 1 to Year 2, and that’s impressive for a first time head coach. As far as my relationship with him, it’s great he welcomes back the former players with open arms and he really appreciates us and what we have done for the University.”
Andrew Spivey: As a former player you have the chance to talk with other former players. What are their thoughts on coach?
Chris Leak: “Everyone supports him. How can you not? He is a high-energy guy with high expectations for the University of Florida. He knows he didn’t meet the expectations of the Gator Nation last year and he knows what he has to do to fix that.”
Andrew Spivey: Looking at this season what do you think Florida needs to do to be successful this year and improve on last year’s record?
Chris Leak: “I think they will be better simply because of the veteran leadership they have. I think early on they will have to rely on the defense and the special teams until the offense can get into rhythm and a quarterback can emerge. The defense has the potential to be very good and even great. They have so many leaders on that side of the ball.”
Andrew Spivey: Everyone knows the offense struggled at Florida last year. Do you think the hiring of Brent Pease will help the offense?
Chris Leak: “Hiring Brent Pease was a great addition to the staff. He has a good track record at Boise State and the other stops he has made. He has also coached in the SEC, so he knows what it takes to run a good offense in the SEC and be balanced. I think the one thing about his offense that is under looked is the explosiveness of his offense. He has a good knowledge for the passing game and once the team can make that transition, I expect big things on the offensive side of the ball.”
Andrew Spivey: How important is it for Pease and the rest of the staff to settle on just one quarterback instead of two?
Chris Leak: “I think it’s very important to settle on one. The transition is easier with one quarterback taking over because the receivers can get comfortable with him and the timing of the offense can be settled. Plus, this offense is looking for an identity and you can’t get that with a quarterback rotation.”
Andrew Spivey: Do you have a prediction or do you have a preference on which quarterback should start?
Chris Leak: “I haven’t seen enough to make a good guess. I trust coach Muschamp and his staff to make the best decision for the team, but I do think it’s important for to make a decision after the first game.”
Andrew Spivey: Regardless of which quarterback wins the job they are both young. Do you feel that’s a disadvantage of them not having the experience in the SEC?
Chris Leak: “I don’t think so. Obviously, it takes the entire offense to win games and score points but I don’t think the lack of experience is that big of a deal. Look at Alabama last year they won with a first year starter.”
Andrew Spivey: Any final thoughts before the season?
Chris Leak: “I think Florida will have a good year and I said earlier the defense and special teams need to step up until the offense can start to gel. “