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…“