Zach’s Mail Stack 10/17

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I didn’t get much for the Mail Stack this week, which I assume is because my Tuesday blog on Florida’s offensive line recruiting answered many of your questions and concerns.

I received so many tweets and emails following the loss to LSU that I decided it deserved it’s own story.

Let me reiterate that I don’t think the UF coaches have done a poor job recruiting the position. The examples I used proved the opposite from a rankings perspective. But the Gators just don’t have enough linemen who fit the criteria they want and need to run their offense, and I also don’t see things getting much better in the foreseeable future.

They will have a lot of youth on the roster next season, but most of those players will need time to develop. And as much as they want David Sharpe, the weakest part of his game is pass protection according to scouts who have watched him. That’s exactly where Florida’s offensive line has struggled the most in recent years, so Sharpe may not be able to provide a quick fix.

Nonetheless, UF has to do everything it can land him and 2015 five-star offensive tackle Martez Ivey, who is considered a heavy lean to the Gators.

On to the questions!

Obvious question, but will the coaches rethink their recruiting strategy and grading for offensive linemen? — Joe

I think it’s must. They’ve been able to land a couple highly touted linemen, but the Gators still aren’t where they need to be up front.

In my opinion, one thing they should do is pursue more prospects in the state of Florida. Ira Denson and Denver Kirkland were two guys in the last recruiting cycle who never received offers from UF. Kirkland is starting as a true freshman for Arkansas this year.

I’m sure the coaches had their reasons for not going after them, but they had the room. If you’re signing the likes of Cam Dillard and Octavius Jackson, it’s worth taking a chance on in-state kids of the same caliber who at least have a handful of schools after them and face better competition.

A few that come to mind this year are Miami commit Trevor Darling (Miami Central), Alabama commit Montel McBride (Plant City) and Florida State commit Corey Martinez (Tampa Catholic).

After all, sometimes the fifth or sixth linemen that gets taken in a class ends up being the best of the bunch.

Dalvin Cook is trying to get Trevor Darling to be a Gator. Do you think we have a chance at him if we miss on Sharpe? — Harnish

Well, first Darling has to get offered by Florida, and I don’t know whether that will happen. There was some talk he would visit for Friday Night Lights back in July, but he didn’t make the trip with Cook and 2015 receiver Da’Vante Phillips, who committed to the Gators at the event.

Darling seems pretty solid to the ‘Canes, but maybe an offer and some recruitment from his teammates could get him to consider UF. At this time, however, he doesn’t appear to be in the cards for Florida.

What feedback have you heard from recruits on future UF QB Will Grier? Can he help bring top receivers and offensive linemen who want to play with him? — Lee

He’s already had impact on the next two classes, as Cook, Phillips and Ermon Lane cited Grier as one of the reasons they chose the Gators. He also talks to UF targets on the phone and goes out his way to recruit them when he visits. He was in the ear of both Bryce Dixon and Lorenzo Featherston at the Arkansas game.

In addition to being a personable guy, his play on the field also speaks volumes. Grier set several state and national state records as a junior, and his senior season stats have been just as impressive.

Through seven games, the dual-threat quarterback has thrown for 2,501 yards and 42 touchdowns along with 816 rushing yards and six scores. He’s completing 70 percent of his passes and averaging 13 yards a carry.

Recruits take notice to numbers like that, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he helps the coaches pick up a few more commits before signing day.

With the struggles on offense, would UF consider having any of the current or future defensive players switch to offense? — Zack

Florida cornerback commit J.C. Jackson certainly falls into this category. He’s having an outstanding year at wideout for Immokalee and set a school record last week for most receiving yards in a game (237).

He wants to play corner in college and that’s the position UF recruited him for. But most scouts view him as an athlete, and he was previously committed to Florida State as a receiver.

Given how stacked Florida’s secondary is going to be in 2014, Jackson will likely get some reps on offense to give the Gators another weapon in the passing game.

How many players have we had in already for official visits and how many more can we have in between now and signing day?Roger

Florida has hosted seven official visitors so far in this recruiting cycle: offensive lineman Nolan Kelleher (UF commit), tight ends Bryce Dixon and DeAndre Goolsby, defensive ends Lorenzo Carter and Lorenzo Featherston, linebacker Clifton Garrett and safety Jamal Adams.

The Gators can have no more than 48 recruits officially visit between now and signing day (55 total).

Here are some targets who plan to visit UF in addition to Florida’s 13 commits: running back Bo Scarbrough (Alabama commit), receivers Eric Lauderdale, Speedy Noil and Travis Rudolph, offensive tackle Damian Prince, defensive tackles Thomas Holley and Gerald Willis III, defensive ends Da’Shawn Hand and Cory Thomas, linebacker Raekwon McMillan and Dwight Williams, cornerback Jalen Tabor and athlete Adoree’ Jackson.

That’s all for this week! Be sure to leave your questions for the next mailbag in the comment section below.

45 COMMENTS

  1. Sharp may be a OL guy that can sneak out for a pass as a TE at times. Pass protection is so big right now I would start looking at JUCO ranks for some FL guys that grade out high. Did LSU game hurt us with guys like Sharp and A. Jackson, etc? Why not go after Wynn and try to flip him from FSU?

  2. Isaiah Wynn is committed to Georgia not FSU. I am on Wynn’s high school football team and I’ll say it again. He is solid to Georgia like a rock. You would have to move heaven and earth itself to get him to flip. Every Friday he is decked out in Georgia stuff before the game. Its not gonna happen.

  3. M…..

    A noun definition for the word, “stuff,” is “worthless things,” which is very appropriate use of vocabulary (which stuff seldom is) for any clothing material related to the University of Georgia.

  4. imo the reason you don’t have many questions is because fans are so disappointed in the product that’s out on the field. then again, what do fans know? the coach’s need to learn about the forward pass. worked pretty good for some other guy! most people are not gonna keep dishing out a few hundred bucks every weekend to watch that crap!

  5. Zach, I am a die hard who lives in Vegas. I have been to Gorman games and there are two OL/DL guys that I think we could use (and are interested in hearing from UF as I speak to both occasionally and one is heavily recruited and offered by Bama). We could then create a pipeline from Gorman to UF (they already wear the right colors) and they play a great deal of national competition. Any ideas about Zack Singer (6’3 290 C/DT) and Nick Gates (6’5 270 OT/DE) and whether we can get our staff looking at them and this school? Hope you can hope and address my comment. Thanks. Go Gators!!!

  6. brown has seen some but yes limited action. not the most mobile guy esp in pass protection. disagree about o-line humphries halapio moore garcia and harrison is a good o- line. this reminds me of a few years ago when everybody blamed he o-line when Brantley was the bigger issue

  7. Losses hurt teams less than some of you seem to think. The comfortability with the coaching staff and players. Parents or HS coaches being friends with someone on the staff. The salesmanship of how the recruit fits in position wise with a schools short/long term plans. The facilities. Tradition. The education. Sometimes distance. Ability to get kids in the NFL. Reputation of a head coach or coordinator. Style of play. The general direction of the team. A second sport like the track team. Focus on these.

  8. Pro teams are migrating to a more “hurry up” and spread offense. It seems we try to market ourself as a gateway to the NFL so why not switch to an OC who can implement this type of O. Then we might be able to recruit some exciting skilled receivers.

  9. Watching the Tar Heels snatch defeat from the jaws of victory last night was agonizing but I couldn’t help but notice their RB’s. Crawford runs HARD!!! I can never understnd why UF never gets a back that runs HARD like that but it seems as though every other team has hard nosed, tough running backs that seem to choose other teams. Maybe KT will change that going forward. I think the Gators will come out with something to prove on tomorrow & play MUCH better. GO GATORS!!!

  10. “In my opinion, one thing they [coaches] should do is pursue more prospects in the state of Florida.” — THIS times 100. Even when Meyer was here I felt he got a little too national in his recruiting. I’m not saying don’t go for a Harvin (VA) or a certain TE from Connecticut who shall not be named, but one could field a championship team from south Florida talent alone. Too many times I’m seeing Florida high school athletes excel at other schools and often they were never even considered by Florida coaching staff. Also, depth: Zach’s last article pointing out that we’ve only taken two OL recruits a year for three years running epitomizes the vast majority of our O-line woes today.

  11. I meant to say Miami’s RB Crawford runs hard as do most of their backs. Carolina played tough but coughed up a victory when they had it in the bag. Let’s hope Clemson skull draggs the crimi-noles tomorrow night. I think Winston gets pummeled and I can’t wait! I’m tired of all of the pundits thinking he’s some sort of great QB. Slow release, staring down receivers, and weak competition will make you look like the 2nd coming of Warren Moon but I think Clemson makes him look like Jamarcus Russell or Ryan Leaf. GO GATORS!!!

  12. BRGF nice post and points. I will point out Brown does run hard I just don’t see him with the vision of finding the holes. For the Miami running back, he always looks good against a bad defense.
    And for the FSU QB Winston. He has a lot of legit weapons in his receivers. You may be surprised. I always root against them because it’s FSU but they are a lot better then they were last year.

  13. Thanks Ed. I’m takin’ a bit here in BR but it’s cool. The tygahs will get it from Ole Miss this weekend just like the noles will take some from Clemson. UF handles mizzou tomorrow by 10. GO GATORS!!!

  14. Recruiting the caliber of players mentioned here is fine, but a staff must be in place to coach them. Defensively UF is solid, offensively not so much……
    4-2 and we have to talk about still being in it and have to talk about being able to control our own fate. Ridiculous. A shame UF is not the best team in the SEC East right now. Muschamp is being paid millions and the program is very average……

  15. I realize that a lot can change between now and NSD regarding the 2014 class. But based on the best available information (and guesses), what positions are looking like the biggest “must haves” for the 2015 class (taking into account graduation/early draft entries, 2014 targets, current depth, etc)? I’m going to assume quality OL is near the top of the list!

  16. its simple its our assistant coaches on offense that r the problem. there not recruiting the right amount of players at positions and there not developing the players we r getting and recruits can see it. r receivers are alil better then they have been in awhile and that’s because joker Phillips came in and knows how to coach em up. we have to get a new oline coach. his schemes r flawed and its easy to see when there r unblocked rushers over and over again. 1 thing with muschamp is hes always recruiting to many at 1 position and not enough balance. we r in big trouble next few years on both oline and dline the 2 positions muschamp said is the most important on the team. the line of scrimmage. give me an offense and take alil off the defense instead of dominating defense and no offense

  17. Zach: The news that is swirling Will Grier as solid a recruit that we have is thinking about playing somewhere else. Gator fans you heard it from Jerry. The source said he is weighting his options now that Jeff may have 2 years of eligibility at Florida. The Top ESPN WR are coming to Florida because of they want to play with Will Grier, they all go to these camps together and the recruits know this kid can play. Well, Muschamp has already said Drikel will be his starting QB. With this news will we still get the top WR are will they go in waves some where else? This is no joke Gator fans.

  18. Wow this offensive line is horrible. Coaching is non-existent. TM is hit before he can take a three step drop. And the same five linemen come out for the next series they play horrible and no coach makes any adjustments or even tries any other linemen. Then you tell OL they have to wait behind this?

  19. WHAT AN EMBARRASSMENT IN COLUMBIA TODAY.

    Time for wholesale coaching changes to the Florida coaching staff…..including the head coach. Muschamp has NO clue. All of the problems at LSU….after a week of said corrections…..were even worse vs. Missiouri. Time to bring the Florida Gators back out of the 1980s….FIRE MUSCHAMP. Florida needs an experienced head coach with imagination who knows how to coach up players. GO GET THE BAYLOR COACH>>>>>NOW>>>>>FOLEY.

  20. We just got dominated by a team chocked full of three-star recruits (Beckam-Green being a five). Solid 3s too. Not many 4s on Mizzou either. With the parity you see in college football today, at what point do you question the various recruiting services?

  21. Zach: Sources are saying the solid commit of Will Grier isn’t as solid anymore. Every since Jeff has 2 more years of eligibility to play and Muschamp said that he is the starter, Grier maybe thinking twice about Florida. You heard it here first from Jerry J. The other recruit who want to play with Grier what will happen if he go some where else? The WR and RB are high recruits and that would be a wave of players going to other schools.

  22. Greg…..

    At what point does Foley realize that Zook was not the only inexperienced assistant coach that he has hired to be the head coach of the University of Florida……THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA deserves a top level, proven head coach to be its head coach. Gator Nation deserves better that what we are getting from Muschamp and his 1980s office and horrible OL coach and OL. We should DEMAND better from Foley. At least, fire the entire offensive staff at the end of the year and bring in maybe the Baylor OC and tell Muschamp not to bother him.

  23. Ugh, I’m still vomiting from yesterday. Though I have no solutions to present to the forum I do have one observation: The Gary Pinkel of 2012 seems to resemble the Will Muschamp of 2013. Checking the archives (my memory) it seems Pinkel was handcuffed with devastating injuries on both sides of the ball last year. He had to answer the critics in Columbia who howled for his head on a stick after an underwhelming first year in the SEC. He and his coaching staff looked over matched and overwhelmed against every decent team they played. He gave the same cliched answers to all the hard questions as his seat got hotter, even as recently as August/September of this year. This year he has the same team as last. What a difference 6 games makes.

  24. Muschamp could put some ice on the brewing hot seat if he would demote Pease and promote either Brian White or Joker Phillips to the OC position. A change in play calling and offensive game planning is sorely needed at this time…..and it would show Gator Nation that Muschamp is willing to admit that he is willing to change not just the players but the coaches if the job on the field is not getting done. Right now, I think the biggest issue lies with Pease and the first change should be made there. Not sure if it should be White or Phillips, but one or the other would be an improvement over the predicable and boring planning and play calling of Pease. Move him to be the full time QB coach……time to act is not, Coach Muschamp. Show us you care. Or we might stop caring at all about you. History tells you change or time will be short for you.

  25. On the field we are a shipwreck…off the field we are quickly approaching dangerous grounds! Now that we have almost nothing more than pride to play for, coaches will be playing younger players, moving guys around and benching older guys who won’t accept it well. Players and coaches in desperate times can become undisciplined. I fear we’re going to start seeing guys suspended or kicked off the team in the next few months. Hopefully we have some young guys who can help hold the locker room together. Go Gators!

  26. CatZero……

    Not seeing any of that happening with the Florida players. Say what you want about Muschamp’s approach to coaching offense, or the lack of it, but Muschamp is a coach that has recruited and has demanded character from his players….except maybe one (Morrison who again showed his rear end on the sidelines Saturday). If you meet and talk to the large majority of the players on the Florida roster, they are young men of high character and they will pull together and support each other for the rest of the year. I truly believe that. I just hope Muschamp realizes that his approach to offense is not going to work in the SEC and will allow his offensive coaches to implement a more open, balanced, and aggressive offense for the rest of the year…..and then change the OC or the offensive scheme for next year to bring the Gators back into the 21st century…..offensively.

  27. I respectfully offer a few observations:
    1. “Muschamp’s approach to the offense” is absolutely identical to Saban’s approach to the offense. A classic pro style offense. Nobody is complaining about Alabama’s offense being stale or boring.
    2. For those of you who wondered why Tyler Murphy wasn’t starting, now you know. He is a good solid player and appears to be an outstanding young man but day in and day out in practice, Driskel was probably more accurate and, while clearly not quicker in the pocket, he is faster out of the pocket. I’ve actually been impressed with Murphy’s poise and relative lack of mistakes, but even considering the poor pass protection, he is simply regressing to the mean in his recent performances.
    3. The Gator’s number one problem is offensive line talent. Our offensive line as a group is not quick and not particularly big. Defensive ends run around them and defensive tackles seem to have no problem blowing them up. Our o-line is simply not elite, but coaching appears to be a problem too because they frequently miss assignments.
    4. I wouldn’t be too hard on D.J. Humphries. He may actually be elite. He just had one really, really bad series. He’s young and needs development.
    4. Even after Saturday, we still have the top-ranked defense in the nation. Just like Georgia’s offense, the Gator defense hit a tipping point on injuries, plus the Riggs ejection. And honestly, Missouri is good. Those two wideouts are monsters.
    5. It’s clear that Muschamp’s background and reputation are a magnet for elite defensive players. It’s equally clear that the Gators are not attracting elite offensive players in the same numbers. This is Muschamp’s biggest challenge.
    6. The fact that the Seminoles and Hurricanes are finally getting their acts together is not the end of the world for recruiting. Recruiting is cyclical and today more than ever, kids are more likely to go where they have a chance to make an immediate impact. The Gators still have three NCs, three Heisman winners, and play in the SEC.
    7. The 2006-2008 dominance was all about talent. While Urban Meyer is clearly a very good head coach (and an unabashed opportunist), he hit the jackpot with Tebow, then Spikes deciding to follow Tebow, then a big bunch of the Lakeland High state championship team deciding to go to Florida as a group, and he looked the other way on known character issues when it came to super-elite talent (Hernandez and Harvin –although Harvin did evolve and showed character in coming back from injury). It was a perfect storm that had a very large component of recruiting luck. Absent another lightning-in-a-bottle recruiting class, we need a dynamic offensive coordinator who can pull in offensive recruits because it will never be Muschamp’s focus or his strength. And incidentally, every time I read reporters’ conversations with Brent Pease, dynamic is not a thought that comes to mind.

  28. Tampa Gator:
    I agree, we have some high character guys but we’re all subject to making self-gratifying decisions when frustrated, especially with all the adversity and uncertainty in the program. Hopefully they all stay focused…time will tell. Muschamp has set the program back and letting him go (IMO) is well overdue. He’s a hard worker and relentless recruiter but he is in over his head. This would be the ideal time to shake up the play calling responsibility, but at the end of the day, it all falls on the head coach. I can’t see how Foley is not reviewing potential candidates at this very moment! We need a proven offensive leader who is confident in his ability to put up points and evaluate/develop talent. Jon Gruden and Bobby Petrino would be at the top of my list. Unfortunately, it’s probably going to get worse before it gets much better for our beloved Gators!

  29. Obviously Petrino is on hold from major college football for now BUT he doesn’t have to be. He would make a great OC/play caller but I understand, you’ve/we’ve been programmed to never forget, never forgive and ignore that cliché about ‘judge not…’ UF football is like the Bucs of the NFL…it doesn’t matter who the head coach or DC is, the defense will ALWAYS be a strength! That’s just the undeniable culture that players have cultivated over many years…unfortunately, also like the Bucs we struggle mightily offensively. Recent Gator teams of the late 80s, 90s and the majority of 2000s corrected this flaw. I fear we have taken leaps in wrong direction and are re-building the wrong culture offensively and it will take MANY years to fix. I hope I am wrong. After the Cardinal ate the Gator, it was no secrete teams are going to load the box with 8, 9, and even 10…why are we not prepared to handle it? I don’t want to be negative. Hope we get better. Go Gators!