After another SEC Championship appearance and a win against Iowa, 30-3 in the Outback Bowl, the Florida Gator football team will be back on the field. But this time, it will be to show the Gator Nation what they have worked on all Spring. The Gators will divide the team in half and compete against each other. They will show their new talent, plays and what everyone should expect heading into the season. The Gators have made changes to their starting lineup and will look to test the waters in the Spring game so that they know what they need to do as it gets closer to September 2nd. Gator head coach Jim McElwain says that the team will not open up the playbook for obvious reasons in that they know Michigan will be watching. Yet, in tonight’s spring game, it will be easy to tell who can perform at the highest potential prior to the upcoming season.
— Jim McElwain (@CoachMcElwain) April 7, 2017
The quarterback position is one that most fans are worrying about heading into the 2017 season. After the departure of Will Grier, the quarterback position for the Gators has gone downhill. Treon Harris wasn’t the best replacement for Grier and Luke Del Rio and Austin Appleby didn’t perform much better. But, 6′ 6” 219 lb redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks brings a lot of hope for the Gators.
With Franks height, speed, and athleticism he should be able to be the next guy that Florida has been looking for and we will see in tonight’s game. He has had a full year to learn the offense and after an off spring game last year, Franks will come out with a “learn from the last year’s” mentality.
Additionally, the Gators have another redshirt freshman, Kyle Trask getting work behind the center. Coach Mac said earlier this week that there has been a separation at the quarterback position between Franks and Trask, yet Trask will still get to see some time to prove himself. Trask showed in last years spring game that he had what it took. He showed poise, accuracy and maturity. He has also had a year to learn the plays while competing and will most likely see some reps with the first team in the spring game.
Finally, the Gators landed a freshman from Pritchard, AL Kadarius Toney. Toney comes into the program listed as an “athlete” yet his reps at practice come from the quarterback position. Toney is more of a run-first quarterback and will most likely appear if the Gators run a wildcat offense. He comes in as an average thrower and will work this season behind Franks and Trask. This will help him learn the offense and get more mental repetitions. Look for him in the spring game to get reps running options and in run first situations.
The defensive back position will be a big gap to fill in the 2017 season. Teez Tabor, Quincy Wilson, and Marcus Maye have made a departure for the draft. These were three out of the four starters at the defensive back position for the Gators that will need to be filled. To go along with this, the Gators have made a replacement at the defensive coordinator position.
Former defensive coordinator Geoff Collins took a head coaching position at Temple University. This opened up opportunities for associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator Randy Shannon to fill the spot. Shannon had success as a head coach at Miami. He will have his debut at defensive coordinator tonight in the Spring game.
Shannon was faced with the task of filling that defensive back position. In tonight’s Orange and Blue debut, we will get to see talented players like Chauncey Gardner, Duke Dawson, Marcell Harris, and Nick Washington to fill that position. Chauncey Gardner appeared in all 13 games last year and learned from some of the best corner backs in the country. He really stepped up in the outback bowl with his two interception performance and will begin his Sophomore season tonight.
Duke Dawson, Marcell Harris, and Nick Washington all saw the field a bunch last season and will do their best to fill the roles of Tabor, Wilson and Maye. All three of them are seniors and have gotten a lot of work and experience.
Line Of Scrimmage
The defensive line will bring the tenacity on every play. The Gators have CeCe Jefferson returning at defensive end along with junior Keivonnis Davis. At tackle they will have Taven Bryan and Jabari Zuniga. The Spring game will feature those defensive lineman along with Jachai Polite, Jordan Smith and Antonneous Clayton.
On the Offensive side of things, the Gators will see who’s dominant tonight. Martez Ivey started in 12 of the 13 games last season and will be a starter this season. He will be accompanied by Jawaan Taylor who saw 12 starts at right tackle last year. But, we should see a bunch of guys get some good time tonight including starting center T.J McCoy, Brett Heggie, Antonio Riles, Nick Buchannan and many more. It will be fun to see the offensive line and defensive line go head to head tonight. We should see who stands out on the offensive line so that come September 2nd, Jordan Scarlett won’t have any problems finding the end zone.
The Orange and Blue Debut will take place at the Swamp tonight. Kickoff is at 7:30.