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March 6, 2006

Florida Gator Pre-Spring Preview -- Part 2

We continue with our pre-spring Catching up with the Enemy Series as Orson Swindle and We Are the Boys continue to give us insight into the Gators. Part I in the Series can be found here.

- What is the most interesting position battle brewing for spring?
Orson: Not quarterback, not quarterback, not quarterback. (How's that for toting the party line? No questions, comrade!) Running back leaps to mind first, since Meyer has yet to settle on one who's enough of a man beast to claim the position as his own. Deshawn Wynn still has the most mystique about him--no one's really forgotten his epic run his freshman year against Miami--but he's also got the most about him period, as in the extra load he seem to bring into spring practice every year around his gut and ass. Markus Manson's the likely favorite there, since he practices like a demon and hits all the ticks on Meyer's "Unselfish teammate" profile.


Meyer won’t be happy til he recruits Jamelle Holieway.

WATB: Running back. I was surprised that Deshawn Wynn came back for his senior season. Wynn couldn't stay out of Meyer's doghouse last year, and I thought he was sure to try his luck in the NFL. Wynn, Kestahn Moore and Markus Manson pretty much split carries for most of the season, and Meyer often bemoaned the fact that none of the three (plus departed Skyler Thornton) stepped up to claim the featured back role. Hopefully someone will emerge this spring.


Deshawn Wynn makes a drunken house call.

Orson: The secondary is a jumble right now. If you don't think the departure of Vernell Brown won't hurt for at least a while, re-examine the Vandy game tape. Brown's in; Cutler's just decent. Brown's out; Cutler's the second coming of Doug Flutie. Dee Webb has got to ripen into a lockdown guy, since the MattiStrong defense leaves those corners out on islands while wreaking interior havoc with the safeties. There's always talk of shifting Reggie Nelson to corner, too, which would be fine since we just want someone like that on the field all the time no matter where he's playing. There's loads of possible iterations of personnel in the secondary, so we imagine they'll just throw them out there in the spring game and see who cracks some heads.(A: Reggie Nelson.)


Meyer says you need brains, heart and a gun that will shoot through a 5 foot wall to play for him.

- Are you expecting any new wrinkles this Spring in scheme?
WATB: The spread option was scaled back over the course of the 2005 season. Hopefully the offense will figure it all out this spring, and we can finally get the explosiveness we expected.

Orson: No. When Leak's in, they'll run the same modified spread that got them through the final half of the year. With Tebow, we may get to see some more Utah-type, true spread-option stuff, but either way it'll be nothing you haven't seen before.


Nobody slides towards glory like Ricky. Except Leak.

- Are there any big coaching changes that will impact your team this spring?
Orson: For the first time in four years, no. Stability's been a rare commodity post-Spurrier, so we think Florida fans will welcome the lack of news on this front.

WATB: Nope, everybody's back in the same capacity.


- What is the biggest question that you do NOT expect to get resolved this spring?
Orson: The secondary. That won't shake out until early next season, either positively through someone claiming the jobs outright, or negatively by giving up huge plays and yielding the spot to another player.

WATB: The Gators have about 28 receivers on the roster, most of them woefully inexperienced or still in high school. The Meyer offense requires the receiving corps to go 10-deep, but I'm not sure how many of the youngsters will have time to master their roles.


- Are you going to your spring game?
Orson: Hell to the yes, along with 55,000 or so of our best friends. We'll be the one in the cowboy hat and jorts.

WATB: With bells on. Literally.


If the Gators protect Leak this year, he'll put up big numbers.


- What is the #1 thing you're hoping to see at the Spring Game?
WATB: I get a kick out of Meyer's punishments during the game. Seeing Josh Portis run a fumble drill after coughing up the ball last year was absolutely hilarious.

Orson: Leak looking comfortable in the offense. That's all. He deserves some stability and a chance to prove what a primo signal-caller he is. Warm up the Brodie Croyle storyline from last year, give it a spanking new orange and blue paint job, and there you have it.


- Is there any program that you're following this spring other than your own? Looking for tidbits?
Orson: Tennessee's intriguing, especially the reanimation of zombie qb Erik Ainge, who went from being the second coming of Peyton to making some of the worst in-game decisions we've ever seen last year. (The words "Jeff George" came to mind at times.)

WATB: Tennessee. It kinda got away from Phil last season, and I'm anxious to see if the Vols can come back.


Is Ainge really Jeff George without the Mustache Wednesday resume?


- Other thoughts regarding spring ball?
Orson: Sure: enjoy it, since it's all you're getting for five months. And we'll see you in Athens.

WATB: Not soon enough, not long enough. Right now is a lonely time of year for the college football fanatic, and just a morsel of football is welcomed. I just wish there was more.

Thanks again to Orson and We Are the Boys!


[Smart ass captions are from Paul Westerdawg]

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