Florida Gator Football Mailbag

It’s mailbag time. With 16 practices in the books and the second scrimmage starting as I type this, we have a better idea of what Florida will look like in 2013. You guys asked your most burning questions and we have answers for you.

Q: Do you think that Kelvin Taylor will beat out Mack Brown for the No. 2 spot behind Matt Jones?

A: Eventually. Much like the situation with Jones and Brown behind Gillislee last season, it took some time for Jones to acclimate and grab the backup job. Taylor is still swimming a little bit but time will help him become more comfortable. It may not be by the end of camp, or by Toledo or Miami. but I think Taylor takes the job at some point in the season.

Q: Should I temper my expectations of the offense, or does it seem like things are finally “clicking” towards an improvement and better execution?

A: That depends on your expectations, if you expect Driskel to throw for 3,500 yards, 30 TD and 2 INT, than yes. If you’re expecting to see a slight improvement over last season – namely a passing attack that doesn’t rank at the bottom of the SEC – that is a more realistic expectation. Florida has playmakers on the outside for the first time in a long time and Driskel definitely looks better than he has previously. Of course, he’s wearing a red non-contact jersey and things will be different when players are actually trying to hit him in a game.

Q: Who starts on the offensive line? Is there enough quality depth for a rotation?

A: From left to right, Humphries, Garcia, Harrison, Halapio and Green. I think Green is the only one of those five that is in jeopardy of losing his starting job. He didn’t look great during the open practice and the fact that he is being moved around from left to right tackle, while someone like D.J. Humphries is strictly playing left tackle, doesn’t look good from the outside. Also, Trenton Brown looks much more comfortable at right tackle and, according to Will Muschamp, Tyler Moore will move back outside to right tackle when Jon Halapio returns.

As far as depth goes, this is hands down the deepest Florida’s offensive line has been since Muschamp has been the head coach. Florida has 15 scholarship offensive linemen and they have a lot of guys who can play multiple positions.

Q: Jet sweep, who’s going to run it?

A: Solomon Patton.

Q: How can the offensive line still be in a situation where the entire o-line is hurt to start camp?

A: It’s a very physical position to play and injuries are going to happen. That being said, other than Halapio – who had a weight room injury – the entire starting line is in place and practicing.

Q: Has the offensive line gotten better at recognizing blitzes and stunts?

A: The line worked on stunts for a while on Thursday during open practice. They did well while working as a position group and then messed it up five minutes after working on it when the defensive line came over. It’s just one practice – an extremely small sample size – but it didn’t look good last night.

Q: Who on the line has stepped up in terms of making line calls?

A: Jon Harrison has stepped up as the leader of the line.

Q: Have doctors identified exactly what Matt Jones viral infection was? Is it common or rare? Is he really getting healthier and regaining weight?

A: There has been no official comment on what the exact sickness was but from the way the staff has addressed it, it sounds a lot like mono to me.  Jones is getting better, he’s been around the team and the facility and he is working with the strength staff on getting his weight back up.

Q: Does Hunter Joyer’s absence represent a setback for the offense as far as blocking schemes go? Who is the fullback in his absence?

A: It would have been a set back if Florida had not moved Gideon Ajagbe and Rhaheim Ledbetter over in the spring. Joyer has been in the offense for two seasons and he knows the blocking schemes. If anything, his absence will allow the other two fullbacks more reps to learn the schemes better. Ajagbe is filling in for Joyer as the starting fullback.

Q: Will Colin Thompson be the answer at tight end?

A: I thought he would be but according to Will Muschamp. Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook are No. 1 and No. 2 on the depth chart at the moment.

Q: Any real chance Muschamp reduces Antonio Morrison’s suspension and he gets to play against Miami?

A: Yes. A good possibility from what I have been told.

Q: Will Ronald Powell wear a knee brace permanently or is it just for the first few weeks of practice.

A: That’s really up to him. The brace will help stabilize everything and doctors will recommend that he wears it but he doesn’t have to.

Q: Will the Gator defense have a better pass rush than last season?

A: Yes.

Q: Will the offensive line be better in pass protection?

A: Too early to tell. I want to say yes, but they struggled on Thursday. I don’t know if that is because of how good the defensive line is or if the offensive line is still going to struggle like they did in 2012.

Q: Will Hunter Joyer be back for the first game?

A: Yes.

Q: What does the depth chart at linebacker look like with and without Morrison?

A: Without Morrison: WILL – Daniel McMillian, MIKE – Michael Taylor, SAM – Ronald Powell

With Morrison: WILL – Michael Taylor, MIKE – Antonio Morrison, SAM – Ronald Powell


A quick housekeeping note, there will be no mailbag next week (following our every other week offseason format) but when we pick back up on game week, we’ll do a weekly mailbag throughout the season.

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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