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March 3, 2006

Florida Gator Pre-Spring Preview -- Part 1

The third installment in the Georgia Sports Blog's series of interviews with bloggers from Georgia's rivals. The interviews look at pre-Spring expectations. Click here for the Tennessee and Georgia Tech installments.

Today's featured guests are gator bloggers extraordinaire Orson Swindle from Everyday Should Be Saturday and We Are the Boys (WATB). This one is a two part series. Excerpts below:

- What are your expectations for Spring Ball for your team?
Orson: Large crowds. Mayhem. Injured players being poked with cattle prods while being forced to lift 100 lb. sandbags in the pit. You know, standard Urban Meyer torture scenario. For a hyper-focused, semi-unfriendly football coach not big on the PR thing, his spring games are turning into arena rock spectacles.

Meyer (off camera) invented the cattle prod in the nose method of motivation

Oh, you actually want position info. Fine: big questions in the secondary and on the O-line, where replacing Mike "Ogre" Degory won't be an easy task. The O-line deserves a second mention for the ongoing adventure that has been picking up the concept of zone blocking.

WATB: As you may have read, once ingested, Urban Meyer's Magical Offensive Firepower Elixir takes effect one year after he arrives at a new job. Much like at Bowling Green and Utah, the Gators in Meyer's second year are expected to score 80-85 points a game, with Chris Leak racking up quadruple-digit passing yardage every Saturday. Anything in the spring that suggests that might not happen will be a disappointment.

WATB is looking for something like this from the Spring Game.

- What position do you feel most confident about?
WATB: D-line. Three of the four starters from a solid line come back, with Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey returning as well.

Orson: Linebacker. Siler, Everett, Crum. Hyperbole alert: as good as group as Florida's ever had ever. The middle of the field this year should have its own inscription: Abandon hope, all ye who enter here...No worries there.

Mincey isn’t back, but the other three return.

- What position are you most nervous about?
WATB: O-line. Four starters are gone, and the most experienced player (Steve Rissler) has moved from tackle to guard to the starting center position. Considering the difficulty the Gators had with Meyer's zone blocking schemes, we might see Chris Leak in a body bag if they don't improve.

Orson: The line, actually. Degory was huge in many ways, making calls and shutting down inside pass rush for the better part of his illustrious career. For this thing to work at all--the Crash Leak Experiment, where he's going to be getting rid of the ball very quickly, not running the option as much but surely pulling a qb choice pretty often, and rolling out a lot--the line's got to be more mobile and assertive. They just weren't last year, as evidenced by the thrashings they got at Alabama and LSU. There's only two seniors on the whole line. Not confidence-building stuff.

Replacing Degory won't be easy.

Part 2 in the series will air on Monday. Thanks to Orson and WATB for the insight. More to come. - pwd

Photos captions by Paul Westerdawg


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