Spring football mailbag

You’ve got questions and I’ve got answers. With just over half of spring football in the books, the team has been fully immersed in Kurt Roper’s offense and will take what they’ve learned to the field Saturday for the team’s first scrimmage.

HawthorneGator: Who has looked the best in pads at running back? Does Adam Lane look like he can challenge for the starting job?

A: I think all of the running backs have looked good. This is still Kelvin Taylor’s job to lose. He’s the most talented of the running backs but I have been impressed with Lane as a pass catcher out of the backfield. The running backs and tight ends have been featured much more this spring than they have in the past and, in my opinion, Lane has been the best receiver out of the group.

Rubenm: The word out of spring practice is that Roper is spending a ton of one-on-one time with the QB’s (Driskel in particular) regarding fundamentals, arm action, weight transfer, quick decision making, etc. Can you expand a little on what you have seen and heard on that front?

A: Roper has been hands-on with the quarterbacks — Driskel in particular. He’s a very positive coach, reinforcing good play or reps vocally, maybe more so than I remember Pease doing.

As far as progressing, I think Driskel’s play has been a mixed bag. He’s made some great throws but shows some shaky accuracy at times. He does seem to have a very good grasp of the offense and that sentiment was echoed by Roper who says Driskel has a high football IQ.

This offense suits Driskel much better. He can and will be very effective running the ball out of the backfield and that’s something that Roper has been encouraging him to do more of in practice.

MrB-Gator: How are the younger players developing on the DL…..who is good enough to get in the rotation this year?

A: Joey Ivie is the young defensive lineman that is standing out to me the most right now. Ivie has a high motor; he’s strong and can play multiple positions. One thing that I have noticed with Ivie is that it seems like he gets down when Brad Lawing comes down on him for a mistake. Ivie needs to realize that Lawing wants him to reach his potential and if the coach comes down on him for a mistake that it’s something to learn from, not get down about.

Gator_Nica: Offensive Line. Who do you see starting after its all said and done? Has OL Coach Summers made a noticeable difference?

A: The offensive line has been doing well with their zone blocking schemes. I think the offensive tackles and center will stay the same but I could see potential for change inside.

Right now, the line is (left to right), D.J. Humphries, Trip Thurman, Max Garcia, Tyler Moore and Chaz Green.  Muschamp praised Humphries, Garcia and Green on Friday and I think those players have created some separation. Rod Johnson is a player that I could see jumping in and working his way into the staring rotation but he’s been slowed by a head injury.

Lurkingator1: I understand the emphasis has been on installing the offense, do you think that has held the defense back some in terms of their aggressiveness and potential dominance ?

A: Not at all. The defense has been going full speed and isn’t holding anything back in practice.

Gatordon: Will the coaches and players be able to get this offense down by the start of the season?

A: I believe so. The players are raving about how simplistic the offense is and how easy it has been to grasp through just a few short practices.

CBseptic: Could you compare where Tabor is and where VH3 was at the beginning of the fall? I know they have different styles but just curious about the gap in talent.

A: Tabor is a very good player but he’s not Vernon Hargreaves. Hargreaves was an anomaly; the exception, not the rule. I think Tabor earns a starting position but I wouldn’t expect him to have an All-American type of season like Hargreaves did.

Q: You seem impressed with Westbrook at TE. Are you impressed by his overall game or just the amount he has improved? Do you see him as a potential solid player at the position?

A: At first I was surprised with how much Westbrook was involved with the offense and then taken aback by how much he had improved as a pass catcher. At 6-5, 250, Westbrook has great physical tools and to see him refine them the way he has in the offseason has been impressive.

Based on the way he’s being used and the way the offense has looked I can see him being a player that will make an impact this season.

Q: Does Tyler Moore look like he will be solid at right guard?

A: He looks much better at guard than he did at tackle.

Q: Could you see Demarcus Robinson being an All-SEC type of player?

A: If he can stay on the field, absolutely. Mike Taylor described him as a freak and I think he nailed it with that description.

LAGatorDoc: Anyone on the D-line emerging yet as the next Easley (or similar)?

A: Like I said last year about replacing Sharrif Floyd, there isn’t one single player on the roster than can replace Dominique Easley. With that being said, I’ve seen flashes from Jay-nard Bostwick where he looks like he could develop into that kind of disruptive player. He’s nowhere near the level that Easley was at but has shown flashes of it in practice.

FireFightingGator: Who’s your favorite freshman, personality wise. Which freshman that’s not here yet do u think will be most ready?

A: This is the first recruiting class where I got to know a lot of the recruits. Duke Dawson is a great kid, a player that you will never hear about running into the GPD or getting in trouble off of the field. Jalen Tabor has an interesting personality, he’s a unique guy, very flashy.

Of the players coming in I think JC Jackson and Treon Harris are the most college ready players set to enroll this summer.

Potzer1: Moving more to the shotgun, where is Joyer lining up? H-back? Tight End? Split back?

A: Joyer has been lining up as an H-back or what Roper calls his “B” position.

Q: Is there a sideline to sideline “eraser” safety? Was sorely missed last year.

A: Nobody like Reggie Nelson or Major Wright but I think Keanu Neal could be a player like Matt Elam if he can stay healthy.

Q: What’s the base defensive formation? 3-4? Nickel? Fowler at buck?

A: Fowler has been playing with his hand in the ground some but more standing up. It’s hard to say what the base defense is now because your true nose tackle — Leon Orr — isn’t playing this spring. However, the defensive scheme so set and ingrained in the players it’s not a big deal that Orr isn’t playing right now.

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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


  1. I’m still wondering if Trip Thurman is actually going to start. I wonder about a guy who couldn’t get on the field ahead of Kyle Koehne, an absolutely awful player. The loss of Silberman is going to hurt. I still wonder why he left for Boston College, because he certainly is better than Thurman. Last years team could have used Matt Patchan as well. I hope the praise of the tackles is actually warranted. Humphries was so bad last year that he was benched and never saw the field again, I’m a little suspicious of the supposed ‘injury’ that occurred after he was benched.