3-2-1: Florida Spring Football at the Halfway Point

Apr 1, 2018 | 0 comments



We’re halfway through spring practice with the Florida Gators, which means we know a whole lot more than we did two weeks ago, but also still have a ton to learn. Through the first seven practices and a scrimmage, there hasn’t been a ton of surprises from this team, but here’s a bit of what we’ve learned so far with three observations, two questions we’d like answered and one prediction moving forward.

Three Observations

  • The team will have “relentless effort” at the helm of Dan Mullen’s staff.

In every media session, the above phrase is constantly repeated. The two words can sound like a broken record at times but they’re still more encouraging than “and yet” which often led to nothing more than an unfulfillable promise for a problem. The relentless effort is a guarantee and one that through the first two weeks of practice we’ve seen every day in every aspect. Guys show up early, practice begins with Oklahoma drills that demand effort and end with many staying later to put in extra work. Mullen and his staff aren’t letting good enough pass and the players are stepping up to their challenge.

  • The running game will set up everything else in this offense.

From the very first practice the running backs have caught people’s eyes and inspired hope for what this team can be in 2018. Every offense wants to be balanced and will give the company line that the run game opens up the pass game. For this Gators team that will be almost necessary and they have a unit that can handle the load. With four guys already there for a solid rotation and the possibility of getting Malik Davis back before the season, there are feasibly five guys who could start any game. They all bring different skills to the table and Mullen along with position coach Greg Knox can use the rest of spring practice to play with schemes and ideas for how to let this entire offense flow through the running backs.

  • The offensive line needs to make huge strides in pass blocking

As SEC Network Analyst Marcus Spears said about the Gators line and quarterback situation in 2017, “It doesn’t matter who’s throwing the ball if you can’t hold ‘em up.” And on Easter weekend, a time known for miracles, Jesus Himself couldn’t have helped the offensive lin with their pass blocking during the scrimmage. Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and Emery Jones—who have all rotated through with 1’s and 2’s during practice and scrimmage—have little to no time before the pocket collapses and they are forced to make a decision. This suits Jones but not so much the first two. When they do have time, the throws were there which is a promising step forward…but it doesn’t make a difference when they’re on the ground. Even on accurate passes (including a touchdown from Trask and one from Franks during the scrimmage) the quarterbacks have found themselves having to watch for the catch from the ground since they were able to get it off only a moment before being met with a linebacker. A case can be made that the O-line is having to face incredibly talented pass rushers in CeCe Jefferson, Jachai Polite, Jeremiah Moon, etc. But do you know who else will have talent at that position? LSU and South Carolina and oh dear Lord, Georgia. With Martez Ivey at that blind side left tackle spot, it’s the senior’s responsibility to set the tone here. There’s still a lot of offseason to go, but this is an area that will have to be addressed.

Two Questions

  • Can the duo of Quincy Wilson and C.J. Henderson become one of the best in the country?

Only sophomore’s, Wilson and Henderson individually are strong. Together, they could be unstoppable. After the 2017 season, PFF graded out Wilson at 81.3, making him their second best freshman defender in the SEC. Henderson ended the season as second team All-SEC and four interceptions (two pick-six’s). As they finish out spring practice together, knowing that—bar the unforeseen—they’ll be starting, the two are using the time to work on their connection as the lockdown corners. It has to raise the question, this fall could we be watching one of the best duo’s in the country?

  • Will we see the coaches focus on one quarterback the second half of spring practice?

As you can read [later on] in our Fast Five Thoughts, we don’t think there will be a starting quarterback named until fall. But that doesn’t mean Mullen and staff can’t start to get an idea. Up until this point Franks and Trask have pretty evenly split reps with the first team. After several practices and a scrimmage the coaches are starting to see what they have in each guy. We have to wonder if over these last two weeks we will see them start to put one of these passers in more first team drills and/or begin to work with schemes centered around one guys skill set more than the other.

One Prediction

  • If cleared by the NCAA, Trevon Grimes will become the go-to receiver.

There was considerable—and deserved—hype around Van Jefferson the first couple of practices. Grimes was exciting but Jefferson was the one making plays in practice. As the weeks have gone on though we’re seeing more and more of Grimes. His seemingly instinctive ability to get under defenders when in tight coverage coupled with his tendency to break free on his routes and end up on an island in the open field will make him an easy choice for whoever is throwing the ball.

Tags: Sport

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