Before the start of spring practice in March, veteran college football beat writer Robbie Andreu came up with five pertinent questions. Here are the answers to those questions:
1. Will we have a pretty good idea who the starting quarterback is going to be heading into the offseason?
Coach Dan Mullen said earlier this week that there has been no separation among the quarterbacks. But the reality is, Franks has worked more with the No. 1 offense than the other quarterbacks and he rebounded from a shaky first scrimmage with a strong one a week ago. He appears to be the leader for the starting role heading into the offseason, but the competition is far from over and a starter likely won’t be made until the Gators are deep into preseason camp. Kyle Trask and Emory Jones have both shown an ability to make plays and move the offense, but consistency has been an issue at times. Overall, the play at QB appears to have improved over the course of the spring.
2. Of the early enrollees, which will have a chance to make an impact this season?
All have done some good things. One who has stuck out a little bit is running back Dameon Pierce, who has a natural, and tough, running style that seems like a good fit in the offense. He and Iverson Clement have both made a strong bid for possible playing time at running back in the fall. They’ve brought great depth to the position, for sure. Cornerback Trey Dean and safety/linebacker Amari Burney have stood out at times and they have a chance to get into the playing rotation in the fall.
3. What playmakers will emerge in the passing game?
The two big ones have been the transfers — Van Jefferson (Ole Miss) and Trevon Grimes (Ohio State). They both have shown an ability to get open and make something happen after the catch. The only catch, so to speak, is the Gators still don’t know if they’ll be eligible in the fall. If they are, they could be the Gators’ two leading receivers. Another bright spot this spring has been the production of the tight ends, especially senior C’yontai Lewis, who seems to have become a go-to guy.
4. Will an attacking, blitzing defense produce more turnovers and big plays?
Absolutely, based on the two scrimmages. Coordinator Todd Grantham’s defense is much more aggressive than the defense the Gators played under Randy Shannon last season. Guys are flying around, blitzing and stunting, and making plays and coming up with turnovers. It’s a style of play that the players seem to have embraced. Several said earlier this week that this is a defense that’s much more fun to play it, and it showed in their enthusiasm.
5. Can the Gators find adequate replacements for punter Johnny Townsend and place-kicker Eddy Pineiro?
This is going to have to wait until this summer, when the nation’s No. 2 place-kicker prospect, Evan McPherson, arrives on campus. Senior Jorge Powell has had a nice spring, but it has not been at Pineiro’s overall level. Tommy Townsend has flashed his potential this spring, booming some punts just like his older brother Johnny, but he has lacked the consistency of his brother.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.