Fresh Faces Shine In Spring Game

It’s very hard to recap a spring game with any excitement for one main reason. There’s never really anything so great about a spring game, because what’s good for the offense is bad for the defense, and vice versa. That said, I was very happy with the way both units performed. The defense swarmed to the ball quite often, and there were more big plays by the offense then there were in the last two seasons combined.

But there was nothing better to see than the emergence of two freshmen who played a huge role in the new (exciting, but I’ll credit Pease later) offense- redshirt frosh tailback Chris Johnson and true freshman wideout LaTroy Pittman.

Simply put, the two dominated the spring game.

Pittman had several receptions, none bigger than a beautiful bomb thrown by Jacoby Brissett that set up the first score of the day.

And Johnson had several big runs, including a touchdown from 3 yards out.

Other new faces that had big impacts were linebacker David Campbell, recording the only turnover of the game (an interception of Tyler Murphy that he returned 16 yards), Mack Brown Jr., who scored a TD and had a couple other nice runs, and Jabari Gorman, who had a hand in almost every tackle, no exaggeration.

Then there were the familiar names on the offensive side of the ball that we’re going to need big time come September- Andre Debose, Quinton Dunbar, Trey Burton and Jordan Reed, who each had huge impacts in the passing game… and the offensive line.

I’d like to take a second to compliment the o-line, last year’s main offensive problem. Chaz Green, Xavier Nixon, Jessamen Dunker and DJ Humphries were excellent yesterday, giving their QB (whoever it was) plenty of time to throw and really getting some push at the line of scrimmage on running plays.

But forget all that. Let’s keep this in perspective- this WAS just a spring game, us against us, so again, when there’s a good play by one unit, it’s negative for the other unit.

Instead, let’s think about this- finally, FINALLY, we may just have the offense we’ve all been waiting for since Dan Mullen left in 2009. Brent Pease put together an offensive game plan that was truly masterful- mainly by getting speedy receivers the ball in space, whether that be by a reverse, end around, or a simple deep throw. The end result? Almost twice the point total from last year’s spring game (41 to 23), many more big plays and much more excitement for fans.

I don’t expect Pease to come in and immediately raise Florida’s offense to tops in the nation. No, I learned that lesson with the whole Charlie Weis era. I do, however, expect Pease to eventually lead this team upward to that level, mainly because they looked so good against a defense that we know is nasty- 8th in the nation last year with 10 out of 11 starters returning. The offense started slow, but once the guys got into a rhythm, the points started piling up late in the game.

So there’s a lot to be excited about Gator fans, but don’t get your hopes up. This could easily be another 7-6 year. Honestly, though, the Gators’ schedule sets up very nicely, meaning it could easily be a 10 win season. The toughest game of the year? That would be LSU, and it’s right in the friendly (from Florida’s point of view, obviously) confines of the Swamp, so there’s a chance. We also get South Carolina at home, Georgia in Jax as always, we go to FSU- these three games will make or break our season. Do we win all three? If yes, then the Gators are off to Atlanta with a shot at the BCS Championship. 2-1 in these games and Florida still probably wins the SEC East, even if the loss is in conference, but BCS Title hopes are gone. 1-2, and you’re looking at a 9-3 season- which is the most realistic. I don’t believe the Gators will lose all three games, because you have to have faith in Will Muschamp at least once here.

The SEC road games are relatively easy- at Texas A&M, at Tennessee, and at Vanderbilt. The remaining home games are Bowling Green, Kentucky, Missouri, Jacksonville State and The University of Louisiana. Come on now. A loss in any of these games would be nothing less than a disgrace.

So it does look very good for the Gators, with a new offense, the same nasty defense, Caleb Sturgis and the special teams returning, and a fiery coach that is full of battle scars from year 1, looking for redemption.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks and months for two major posts- a completely new, radical college football playoff proposal and chronicling the lifelong journey of Percy Harvin.

Oh, and if anybody wants to watch the replay of the spring game, you can do so here.

On another note, the Gator baseball team is choking. They were once 20-1; now they’re 25-7. Cheer them on whenever you can.

Happy holidays!

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