After a long day interviewing coaches and players on the Touchdown Terrace, I offer these nuggets (to go along with the rest of our extensive coverage in the paper and on the Web):
* Quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler spent a lot of time talking about his new starting quarterback, John Brantley. He said the coaches have been stressing to Brantley that he just needs to be himself and not worry about trying to be Tim Tebow. Loeffler said Brantley’s got big-time quarterback skills — and the “It” factor that he talked about so often about Tebow in the past. You can tell Loeffler thinks Brantley has a chance to be very special.
* Freshman tailback Mack Brown is a lot more physically mature than I thought he would be. This kid is big, and jacked — and looks physically ready to play. Stan Drayton said Brown has shown real flashes in practice and that if he picks up the offense in camp, he’ll be a factor with the ball in his hands this fall.
* Junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson said he and quarterback John Brantley have become so connected from playing pitch and catch all summer that he could run a route with his eyes closed and know when to stick out his hands to catch Brantley’s pass. “He’s just an unbelievable passer,” Thompson said. “You can run a bad route and he’ll make you look good.”
* Senior linebacker Lorenzo Edwards, an elite prospect coming out of high school, said he knows he has one more chance to make something out of his UF career — and he plans to do it with a strong senior season. “I’ve been busting my butt for this. This is my last chance and I’m going to make the most of it,” he said.
* New wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni on what his role is as passing-game coordinator: “Complete passes. I don’t know. I just go out and coach my rear end off with the receivers. We all (the coaches) work on the game plan together. I guess as far as practice me and Coach Loeffler organize things in the passing game.”
* As Urban Meyer left the interview area, he playfully threw some water on true freshman Dominique Easley, who laughed. It’s a good sign. It shows that Meyer likes Easley — which means Easley is doing the right things and will have a chance to play this season.
* Tailback Jeff Demps, the fastest player in college football, is pumped about the opportunity return kickoffs this season. “Yeah, I’m very excited about that,” he said. “Growing up in (Pop Warner) and high school I was a returner, so I am really excited to see how it’s going to be this year,” he said.
* Meyer was right when he described true freshman defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd as a beast last week. This kid is huge, and very, very strong. And also very determined to make an early statement. “My goal is to dominate whatever coach (Dan McCarney ) puts in front of me, go as hard as I can, sprint to the ball, and possibly get my way on the field some way, some how,” he said. Floyd, who is from Philadelphia, said he is having no issues dealing with the Florida heat. “I am used to it, but it doesn’t stay this hot all year round,” he said. “We get some cold days, some nice days. It has been gorgeous here. I love it. I am never leaving.”
* One of the new team leaders, senior defensive end Justin Trattou, looks like he’s put the work in this summer. He appears bigger and stronger, really pumped up. He also has some wild hair at the moment.