Spring practice notes: Cronkrite working in Wildcat, tight ends showing promise

Jim McElwain has already made himself known for thinking outside the box, so it was only a matter of time before he came up with an age old out-of-the-box idea and installed it into his team’s offense.

The cause and effect is simple. McElwain, to be frank, is not happy with the way his quarterbacks are looking these days, even calling the QB race a “standstill.” Meanwhile, Jordan Cronkrite was probably Florida’s biggest breakout player last year not named Antonio Callaway. Put two and two together, and I’m sure you’ll come up with four: McElwain has decided to add quarterback to Cronkrite’s list of duties.

Cronkrite has been taking a fair amount of Wildcat snaps recently during practice, including many with the rest of the starting unit. Florida ran the Wildcat occasionally with Cronkrite (and a decent amount with Treon Harris) last year, so I can’t really call this something new. But it does seem as though the offense will be relying on it a little bit more this year, given McElwain’s uneasiness with his quarterbacks and the increased amount of reps Cronkrite gets with it in practice compared to last year.

Anyway, the Wildcat has been about as successful as you could hope for in practices. Cronkrite naturally has good vision, and can barrel his way through more holes than his relatively small frame would suggest, so he’s breaking through the line of scrimmage fairly often. Then again, the defensive lineman and linebackers aren’t exactly trying to kill him, so it’s not that easy to determine based on spring practices.

Cronkrite is also being aided by a trio of solid blocking tight ends. C’yontai Lewis and DeAndre Goolsby each had impressive 2015 seasons catching passes, but they’ve really stepped up this spring in the blocking department, and fellow tight end Moral Stephens has joined them in receiving Mac’s praise. All three have learned to really explode out of their stances and deliver strong initial punches, and they’re displaying great pad level. We saw last year that Goolsby and Lewis were quite athletic, and could make key pull blocks, but for them to show that they can hold their own making initial blocks right out of their stances is certainly encouraging.

The spring game is this Friday, and I’ll post a more complete list of things to watch for soon. But for an offensive that’s struggling to find its identity, maybe the fix is something as easy as this.

And so in a whispery tone designed to imitate a thriller movie’s narrator, I say, “let’s watch and find out…

7 thoughts on “Spring practice notes: Cronkrite working in Wildcat, tight ends showing promise

  1. “Jordan Cronkrite was probably Florida’s biggest breakout player last year…” That’s a silly thing to say since it is an indictment of UF’s offense being horrible for the sixth straight year. Cronkrite rushed for 157 yards at 3.6 yards per carry. He had 89 receiving yards. That’s 246 total yards for the season.His best game as a runner was against East Carolina with a whopping 47 yards. It wasn’t like Kelvin Taylor was a great back, either. I admit that Taylor was much improved from his previous years, where he was a mediocre back, but he was just an average back last year, nothing to get excited about.
    As for the quarterbacks, it doesn’t really matter what the coaches say in the Spring or Fall practices. Even if they get raves, it’s much different in a real game against an opponent with a pulse, which is not the team UF opens with, so we’ll have to wait until after then to know anything. I just know that running the Wildcat probably means that UF sucks again at quarterback. Why take out your quarterback, ever, if he is a good player? You don’t see FSU running the Wildcat, do you? How about Alabama? I could go on, but my point is that most teams with good quarterbacks don’t pull them off the field to insert a running back. The jury is still out on whether McElwain can do what he was hired for, improve UF’s offense. Last year was just as bad as the previous five, and resorting to the Wildcat doesn’t sound like it’s getting better.

    1. Maybe FSU should have broken out the wildcat in that Houston game…
      I do agree with you, though, I wouldn’t call Cronkrite a ‘breakout’ player. He did some good things: was it him who stole the ball from the DB in the USC game or was that Scarlett? Either way, I don’t necessarily think trying the wildcat in spring means doom and gloom for the offense. Guess we’ll just have to see.

      One thing I’ve noticed is coach Mac never heaped praise on Grier even when he was improving. He was always pretty positive when speaking about Treon, even though he played like hot garbage from the UGA game onward. Yeah, I’m grasping for any optimism I can get here.

      1. Vic-
        If you’re are grasping at optimism then you should be stoked that our offensive line and offensive blocking will probably be much improved this year. Couple that with the point of this article (that Mac and co. Are getting creative w formations and our pass-catching TE’s have learned to block better) and also w good coaching, Del Rio or Appleby probably have the capability to be a McElroy or at the very best a Mccarron, there’s hope in vet WR’s stepping up- combined w a great young wr class, a stable of running backs that could be underrated and potentially rad, and once again a very elite defense. Or we could underachieve and lose 5 games. But I for one love that this is our second year under Mac and I think it’s A-okay to hope for the best during the off season because we saw first hand last year that expectations can be exceeded w a competent coach. F%#k it!

      2. Maybe the Missouri game, Grier’s last before being suspended, should have given you a clue as to why McElwain didn’t praise Grier. I wouldn’t call that performance”improving” after his one and only good game, Ole Miss.

        1. You’re literally the only person (outside Tally) who doesn’t think Grier made strides last year. Oh well, it’s a moot point anyway. Let’s go ahead and get on with your next long-winded diatribe on why the next guy isn’t the answer either.

          1. I’m just presenting the facts, not the popular myth. As I said, Ole Miss was the ONLY game that Will Grier looked good in. Contrary to myth, Grier sucked for nearly the entire game against Tennessee. But, as usual, many Gator fans ALWAYS make excuses for why they lose. Harris wasn’t the reason UF lost. He played well against LSU, for example, and if not for a defense that was the only one to make Brandon Harris look good and Antonio Calloway dropping a dime from Harris that would have tied the game, UF may have won. As seen against most teams UF played, remember East Carolina, Kentucky, and the three bad teams after Georgia, UF was NOT a great team, and were lucky to finish 25th. Instead of making excuses,he obvious reason UF lost so badly at the end of the year is that the teams they played were MUCH better. McElwain is not the coach at UF because UF was a great team, and the myth of Grier is not based on reality. Wake up and smell the coffee…UF has a long way to go to become competitive with the best teams in college football.
            UF has a ridiculously easy schedule this year. As of now, UF has a four game schedule-Tennessee, LSU, Georgia, and FSU. The paid scrubs,Presbyterian, Massachusetts, and North Texas, are the worst in memory. Maybe Arkansas will be pretty good, but Vandy South Carolina, Missouri, and Kentucky are probably going to be bad teams again. The SEC East was miserable last year, is it, including UF, going to be any better this year?

            1. Facts, you mean like Grier having the best statistical game for a Florida QB in over a decade (a decade which included two titles and a Heisman winner)? Your rants are basically a rival’s wishful thinking.
              Thanks for stopping by and ‘dropping knowledge’ on us.

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