Five Thoughts on Florida's opening weekend depth chart

Aug 30, 2021 | 0 comments


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You know Florida football is upon us when we get the unveiling of the first depth chart of the fall. After looking it over, Inside the Gators shares Five Thoughts on Florida’s unofficial two-deep depth chart.

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1) The fan favorites are missing in action. Actually, while they may be missing from the depth chart, they won’t actually be missing in action. I will bet anything, all three will see the field on Saturday. However, when looking over the depth chart before tweeting it out, I knew the most reaction would come from fans wondering why they weren’t seeing the names of Lorenzo Lingard, Demarkcus Bowman, and Diwun Black. The backs are understandably being listed behind three proven – although perhaps not as explosive – returning running backs. As for Black, I think there are those who got caught up talking about him at STAR. We were told in our Camp Insider that he was being moved around on defense and that he played STAR in UF’s Heavy Package. Take note of the word Heavy. I would assume Florida goes to their Heavy Package when offenses are running ‘12’, ‘21’ and ‘22’ personnel packages. Otherwise, if it were full-time, you would have 6-foot-3, 230-pound Black attempting to cover FAU’s slot receiver, 5-foot-10, 165-pound, LaJohntay Wester. I don't care how good an athlete he is – and he is a damn good one – that wouldn’t even be fair. Black is someone who because of his size, speed and athleticism, maybe a ‘positionless’ player in that while you may not see him on the depth chart at any one position, you may actually see him play more snaps a multitude of positions than those listed ahead of him at one position (if that makes sense).

2) Youth is being served at the center position. In the offseason, many in the Gator Nation were projecting an offensive line featuring either Ethan White, Stewart Reese, or Josh Braun moving inside to shore up the center position. That type of speculation tends to happen when each and every spring practice is closed off to the public and media. However, in the first few days of fall camp, sources told Inside the Gators that Kingsley Eguakun was not only running with the first team at center, but was looking good in doing so. Seeing both Eguakun, who is a redshirt sophomore, and Richie Leonard, who is a redshirt freshman, listed as the top two means that Florida should be set up the middle for the next several years. Having said that, if the Gators played Alabama tomorrow and Eguakun was a no-go, I would bet one of the above-mentioned trio would move inside for that game.

3) There's no denying that Florida has found success working the transfer portal. I haven't looked around the college football landscape, but I would find it difficult to believe that there's another program ranked in the top 15 that has utilized the transfer portal as well as Dan Mullen and Company. Of Florida's 24 listed outright or co-starters, six – ¼ – of them are transfers. In both Daquan Newkirk and Antonio Valentino, you have both starting defensive tackles, two – Jean Delance and Stewart Reese – of the five starters along the offensive line, and former five-star’s Justin Shorter and Brenton Cox all arrived via the transfer portal. That number doesn't even include two former five-star running backs Lorenzo Lingard or Demarkcus Bowman, or the two prominent cornerbacks – Elijah Blades and Kadarrius Perkins – listed on the second team. You can rightfully complain all you want about deficiencies when it comes to recruiting high school prospects, but Mullen has been a master of the portal to this point.


4) The biggest question that I have after seeing the depth chart is having Amari Burney starting alongside Ventrell Miller at the expense of Mohamoud Diabate? Don’t get me wrong, Burney has flashed at times and has the skill-set to be a much better player than he’s shown to this point. What I think has hindered his progress is that he is so athletic that the coaches wasted some time playing around with him in the secondary, when he should have been training as a weakside linebacker his entire time in Gainesville. Having said that, he would be a great compliment to the starters, but Diabate has shown that he has superstar type of ability.

5) The second biggest question I have after seeing the depth chart is why are they taking the risk of having Kaiir Elam return punts? He isn’t only the best cornerback on the team, the argument can be made that he is the overall most important player on defense, if not the entire team. With Florida losing Jaydon Hill and Kamar Wilcoxson, UF is already in a precarious position when it comes to depth among the defensive backs and how you are subjecting the cornerstone of the secondary to taking needless cheap shots. I wonder if an opposing team might think it is worth a 15-yard penalty to clean his clock on a borderline fair catch play? The coaches get paid millions to make these decisions, and I don’t care if he breaks one the first couple of weeks and takes it to the house, you have to wonder if the risk is worth the reward in this instance. 

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