Football: Florida Gators Week 2 Recap – Offense

Florida concluded its fall camp on Saturday with its third scrimmage since opening camp, and plenty has changed in the past week.

Gator Country has been following all the action and providing daily updates to whet your football appetite.

Today, we stop to recap the second week of fall camp with a position-by-position breakdown of all that has happened, starting with the offensive side of the ball.

Overview After the first week of fall camp, the battle for the backup quarterback battle appeared to be drawing close between redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy and true freshmen Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett, despite the fact that Murphy entered fall camp with a decent lead for the job.

Early in the second week of fall camp, Driskel won the backup job, and he has held onto it through the end of fall camp as Florida gets set to begin game-week preparations later in the week.

The picture at the top of the depth chart remains unchanged, with senior John Brantley holding a seemingly insurmountable lead over Driskel. Brantley has had the luxury of playing in a system that fits his skills better, and he has played well.

Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has adapted the offense to fit Brantley’s skills and keep from overwhelming him, and it seems to be paying some dividends.

In addition, the confidence from Will Muschamp seems to be spreading to the team, as defensive tackle Jaye Howard noted he considered Brantley a Heisman candidate in 2011.

Changes As expected, Muschamp pegged a backup quarterback pretty close to a week into fall camp, handing the reigns to Driskel at the position. In fact, Murphy might have even been surpassed on the depth chart by Brissett this week.
Best Player Once again, Brantley is a hands-down winner here. While not everyone is calling him a Heisman candidate, the consensus is that he’ll be a much better quarterback than he was in 2010.

True freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel has taken over the backup quarterback job heading out of fall camp. / Photo by UF Communications

Biggest Surprise The biggest surprise this week was the news that Driskel had won the backup job so quickly, just days after Brantley said all three backup quarterbacks were getting even reps.
Improvement Needed It’s hard to pinpoint anything the Gators need to do better here, as Muschamp himself has said his quarterbacks have done nothing at all to disappoint him. Continuing to learn the playbook is key for all four quarterbacks.
Best Quote “[Monday] in the scrimmage he was close to 70 percent or right at it. Accurate with the football, taking the ball to the right spots, getting us in the right runs. Not a bunch of negative plays when he’s in the game, managing our offense very well. Obviously he’s very athletic, he can pull it down and run. His growth process from spring – obviously he’s worked extremely hard through the summer of dedicating himself to the playbook and learning what to do and how to do it and why we’re doing it that way. – Will Muschamp on QB Jeff Driskel
Freshman Impact With Driskel winning the backup job, he’ll almost certainly play in the 2011 season. That makes it less likely Brissett avoids a redshirt, but nothing is set in stone yet with Brissett still pushing Murphy for snaps.
What to Watch Brantley and Driskel have done the best job of learning the new offense, and that needs to continue through fall practice for Florida. Will Driskel continue to hold down the backup spot?
GC Projected Depth #12 John Brantley | #16 Jeff Driskel | #10 Tyler Murphy | #17 Jacoby Brissett
Injury Report None
Running Back
Overview Almost nothing has changed at the running back position in the second week of fall camp, as the Gators hold pat on the depth chart.

Seniors Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey are leading the Gators, and Florida’s coaching staff will do everything it can to isolate those two and get them the ball in space, where they can use their speed to create some “explosives,” as Muschamp likes to call them.

Meanwhile, junior Mike Gillislee and redshirt freshman Mack Brown continue to have an extremely quiet fall camp, with neither garnering any recognition from their head coach or fellow players.

With less than two weeks until Florida kicks off against Florida Atlantic, the time for Gillislee and Brown to assert themselves is now or never.

Changes There has been no change at all in the running back position. Chris Rainey continues to hold a slight lead over Jeff Demps, and the pair have a huge lead over Gillislee and Brown.
Best Player While we went with Rainey last week for this category, it seemed much closer between he and Demps than it does this week. Rainey has reportedly been electric again in fall camp and is arguably Florida’s top offensive player.

Senior running back Chris Rainey has sprinted to the top of the depth chart at running back. / Photo by UF Communications

Biggest Surprise There haven’t been any surprises in this group for Florida, which may not be a good thing for the Gators. Neither Gillislee or Brown has made any sort of a jump yet.
Improvement Needed Just like last week, Florida needs to have Gillislee or Brown step up soon and become a bigger factor at the running back position. The Gators need to develop a bigger back behind Demps and Rainey.
Best Quote “Jeff, I would say is a little bit bigger stature wise. The other day, he did a really nice job chipping one of our defensive ends coming out on protection. I thought he may have cracked his ribs, I mean turned him upside down. Great chip and it’s good for our offense.” – Will Muschamp comparing Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey
Freshman Impact Same thing here as last week – there’s unlikely to be any true freshman contributions at running back since Mike Blakely transferred over the summer, but fullback Hunter Joyer may get a few carries this season.
What to Watch The main thing to keep an eye on is whether Gillislee or Brown will make a push for more carries as Florida heads into its game preparations. The Gators don’t need to be burdening Demps and Rainey with the full load of carries, so they need one of the aforementioned duo to step up.
GC Projected Depth #1 Chris Rainey | #28 Jeff Demps | #23 Mike Gillislee | #33 Mack Brown
Injury Report None
Fullback and Tight End
Overview There wasn’t much news about the fullback or tight end positions in the second week of fall camp.

The Gators will continue to use a variety of different players at both positions to make up for the lack of depth at tight end, including using Gerald Christian at both tight end and fullback and getting Omarius Hines some reps at tight end.

Redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed is clearly the top option at tight end, even after injuring his hamstring and missing a few days in the second week of camp.

Trey Burton continues to work as the first-team fullback, where he’s getting more snaps than just about anyone else, and has improved significantly as a blocker.

Changes There haven’t been many changes this week, except for a slightly expanded role for Gerald Christian as blocker out of the backfield.
Best Player Last week we went with Trey Burton here, but this week the nod goes to Jordan Reed, who earned high praise from Muschamp despite missing a few days with a hamstring injury.

Sophomore tight end Gerald Christian will play a big role at tight end and fullback to make up for a lack of depth at both spots. / Photo by UF Communications

Biggest Surprise The biggest surprise wasn’t Reed’s injury, it was the fact that Muschamp still had glowing things to say about him even after he missed a few days of the second week of camp.
Improvement Needed True freshman Hunter Joyer was expected to come in and make an immediate impact at fullback, but he has had a quiet fall camp so far. Reed also needs to improve as a blocker.
Best Quote “I think that he’s continued to progress a better understanding of the offense. We’ve centered some things around him to get him the football. Our whole theme is to get the ball in the playmakers hands, and he’s certainly one of them. I’m very pleased with his development to this point.” – Will Muschamp on Jordan Reed’s role
Freshman Impact Even though he’s had a quiet camp, Joyer is still expected to play as a true freshman. Depending on how quickly A.C. Leonard recovers from a meniscus tear, true freshman tight end Clay Burton could also see the field early.
What to Watch Will playmakers emerge beyond Jordan Reed and Trey Burton? Gerald Christian is doing more, but Muschamp still hasn’t pointed him out as a guy they’re counting on. Who will emerge here?
GC Projected Depth Fullback – #8 Trey Burton | #32 Gerald Christian | #41 Hunter Joyer
Tight End – #11 Jordan Reed | #32 Gerald Christian | #81 A.C. Leonard (+) | #88 Clay Burton
Injury Report #81 A.C. Leonard (torn meniscus, expected back mid- to late-September)
Wide Receiver
Overview The wide receiver position continues to remain steady at the top, with Frankie Hammond, Jr., Deonte Thompson and Quinton Dunbar holding fast as the top three wide receivers. Quinton Dunbar has really matured, and he figures to be a big part of the Florida offense moving forward.

While things have remained basically the same at the top, one player who has made strides beyond those three is redshirt sophomore Andre Debose. At the beginning of the second week, Muschamp was very critical of his consistency, but by the end of the week, Muschamp was praising Debose for picking it up and playing consistently throughout the week.

Omarius Hines has had a surprisingly quiet fall camp, which could be a result of him seeing time as a tight end and blocker in addition to playing receiver.

Muschamp has also been pleased with the play of Solomon Patton, but moreso on special teams than at receiver in the slot at this point.

Best Player Hammond, Jr., remains the best player after the second week of fall camp, but Dunbar is pushing him hard for that distinction. Muschamp and fellow players have raved about Dunbar’s big-play ability.

Junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., has continued to stand out as the most consistent receiver in fall camp. / Photo by UF Communications

Biggest Surprise After Muschamp stated his displeasure with Debose’s consistency early in the second week, it was a real shocker to hear him praise Debose for the very same thing only a few days later. That’s a good sign for Florida.
Improvement Needed While Florida’s top three receivers are all having good camps, the Gators haven’t gotten near the development and push they would have hoped for from receivers below them on the depth chart. That needs to change quickly for Florida.
Best Quote “In high school you’re pretty much better than everyone else. But in college, if you don’t come out to work each and every day, you get your butt kicked. The corners will beat you up. If you don’t come out hard-working and hungry, they’ll take advantage of you. You’ve got to come out hungry each and every day.” – WR Quinton Dunbar on what he learned from first to second year
Freshman Impact Ja’Juan Story is the only true freshman receiver for Florida, and he hasn’t been mentioned at all, so it’s unlikely he’ll make much of a contribution in 2011.
What to Watch Debose earned some high praise from Muschamp at the end of fall camp. Can he continue that progress into the game-week preparation? Will Patton emerge as a bigger contributor in the slot?
GC Projected Depth X – #9 Quinton Dunbar | #6 Deonte Thompson | #89 Stephen Alli
Z – #82 Omarius Hines | #4 Andre Debose | #80 Ja’Juan Story
F11 – #85 Frankie Hammond, Jr. | #83 Solomon Patton | #7 Robert Clark
Injury Report None
Offensive Line
Overview The news out of fall camp along the offensive line was exceedingly positive, as Florida stayed injury-free and the Gators built depth on the offensive line.

That increased depth has given Florida a solid group of eight or nine guys who have competed for a starting spot at one point or another in fall camp, making it a group that is pushing each other hard for playing time, something that can only benefit everyone on the line.

Two new starters emerged on the offensive line at the end of fall camp, as redshirt sophomore Kyle Koehne took over at left guard and Matt Patchan took over at right tackle.

Those two spots appear to be the only two still really up for grabs, though Florida has had excellent competition inside with the emergence of Dan Wenger, Sam Robey and Nick Alajajian.

All in all, Florida couldn’t have asked for much better results on the offensive line in fall camp.

Changes The two major changes are the new starters on the line. With Koehne taking over at left guard, Ian Silberman and James Wilson now have ground to make up at the position, while Patchan’s emergence at right tackle bumps Chaz Green into a backup role, at least temporarily.
Best Player Florida players continue to point to redshirt sophomore right guard Jon Halapio as the best player and leader on the offensive line. He seems poised for a very good season.

Florida’s offensive line is beginning to take shape and develop some depth exiting fall camp. / Photo by UF Communications

Biggest Surprise The biggest surprise is hands-down Koehne’s emergence as the starting left guard. He was roundly talked about as one of Florida’s top backups, but he was playing at left tackle, and his move came as a bit of a shock.
Improvement Needed The Gators still haven’t had anyone step up and lay definitive claim to the left guard position, and the starter could very well change again before the season begins. Someone needs to cement their spot there.
Best Quote “Kyle Koehne is also repping at the left guard position. He played really well at left tackle, and our whole philosophy is get the best five out there. About three days ago, we made a decision to move him in to left guard. He’s done a nice job.” – Will Muschamp on new starter at left guard
Freshman Impact Florida only has two true freshmen on the offensive line in Trip Thurman and Tommy Jordan. With Muschamp stating this week that it’s tough for true freshmen to make an impact on either line of scrimmage, look for both to redshirt.
What to Watch The two spots to watch are the left guard spot and right tackle. Can Silberman and Green push to get their starting spots back? At center, will Jon Harrison continue to hold his ground?
GC Projected Depth LT – #73 Xavier Nixon | #75 Chaz Green | #64 Kyle Koehne
LG – #64 Kyle Koehne | #77 Ian Silberman | #66 James Wilson | #63 Trip Thurman
C – #72 Jon Harrison | #56 Dan Wenger | #50 Sam Robey
RG – #67 Jon Halapio | #58 Nick Alajajian | #78 David Young | #65 Tommy Jordan
RT – #71 Matt Patchan | #75 Chaz Green
Injury Report None