Published: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 3:45 p.m.
The heat is on
The Florida players chuckled earlier this week when they were asked if they were concerned about the heat with the early kickoff. They basically were saying, you've got to be kidding. They've been practicing for hours every day during the hottest August in memory, with a heat index of more than 100 almost every day. So, no, the Gators are not concerned with the heat. The Hilltoppers aren't, either. It wasn't exactly a cool preseason camp for WKU. The concern is in the stands. The players? They say the games are actually easier than the practices and they'll have plenty of fluids available and those big fans blowing on them when they're on the sidelines.
Throwin' with Tebow
True sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow finally gets to shake the dust off his throwing arm and show everyone his passing ability. After last season, the perception is that Tebow is a running quarterback. But he was known more for his passing than his running in high school, having thrown for almost 10,000 yards in his three years as a starter at Ponte Vedra Beach Nease. If the Hilltoppers come into today's game focusing on Tebow the runner, chances are good they'll get stunned by his gun.
Making a stand with Kestahn
Do the Gators finally have a clear-cut, No. 1, dominant tailback? The coaches have been saying all preseason that they do. His name is Kestahn Moore and he's held onto the No. 1 tailback position since day one. The coaches say he's quicker, faster and that the play at tailback is no longer an issue. We'll have a chance to find out today. The Hilltoppers were gutted for 169 rushing yards a game last season and Moore will have a chance to establish himself behind a senior-laden offensive line.
Can the kids play?
Thanks to back-to-back excellent recruiting classes, the Gators appear to be stocked with young defensive talent. Now, it's time to find out if they can play. Perhaps the biggest focus will be on the linebackers, where the three starters were all members of last year's recruiting class. Brandon Spikes has assumed the role of a leader at middle linebacker, while Dustin Doe and A.J. Jones have flashed lots of speed and hitting ability on the outside. The youngest defender of all will be starting cornerback Joe Haden, a true freshman who enrolled last January and apparently has made the most of the experienced he gained in the spring. Some other true freshmen to keep an eye on are outside linebacker Jerimy Finch, defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Justin Trattou and defensive tackle Torrey Davis.
Kicking it around
The Gators will debut new kickers today. The punter is true freshman Chas Henry, who was booming them early in preseason practice, while the field-goal duties go to senior Joey Ijjas, who went on scholarship last week after nailing a 52-yarder to end a practice. UF showed last season it's possible to win a national championship without a consistent field goal kicker. But with so many new starters this year, especially on defense, Florida may require a little more production out of their kickers to possibly contend again.
Check back after the game or in Sunday's sports section for the answers:
1. Can Tebow throw?
2. Is Kestahn Moore the guy at tailback?
3. Is the offensive line's chemistry hurt by the loss of Phil Trautwein
4. Does Chas Henry have a chance to be a big-time punter?
5. How did true freshman Joe Haden hold up at cornerback in his first start?
Robbie Andreu can be reached at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com.
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