April 20, 2011

The Silver Lining: Ask Adam

FLORIDA FOOTBALL COVERAGE: Early Entry Review: Driskel tempering expectations | 4/15 War Room: Football & Recruiting Tidbits | Spring Review: The Secondary

Every once in a while Inside the Gators Adam Silverstein will pick several of the many questions sent to him and answer them in an Ask Adam segment.

Q Considering Florida just won its 200th Southeastern Conference Championship overall, what has athletic director Jeremy Foley's impact been on the entire program from that perspective? - Linda F. via Twitter

A Foley has been with the Gators since 1976 but was hired to his current job 19 years ago in March. Since he was put in charge, Florida has won 102 SEC Championships and captured 17 SEC All-Sports titles. The three sports programs he's created in his tenure with the school - soccer (11), softball (3) and lacrosse (1) - have won a total of 15 conference titles (ALC for lacrosse) in 32 combined opportunities. Foley has seen 15 different Gators athletic teams win national titles under his watch. He is also the only athletic director in the history of NCAA Division I to win multiple national championships in football (1996, 2006, 2008) and men's basketball (2006, 2007). Florida constantly finishes at the top of the national all-sports rankings, placing in the top five in 12 of Foley's 19 seasons (the Gators came in second in 2009-10).

Perhaps most notable about Foley's tenure thus far has been his ability to hire top-notch coaches. From Urban Meyer (football) to Amanda O'Leary (lacrosse), he has a keen eye for the type of person it takes to lead a team to a high level of success. His coaches have won 83 SEC Coach of the Year awards including four this season going to Billy Donovan (men's basketball), Rhonda Faehn (gymnastics), Mike Holloway (track & field) and Mary Wise (volleyball).

Q Which seniors on the football team really need to step up and prove themselves in order for the Gators to be successful in 2011? - Brett L. via e-mail

A With only nine seniors on scholarship this year, there is no doubt that they will be counted on by head coach Will Muschamp to - at the very least - be accountable players who can provide a measure of leadership for their peers. That being said, there are a handful who will really need to step their games up for Florida show major improvement from last season.

Most notably among them, obviously, is redshirt quarterback John Brantley, who continues to be praised by Muschamp even as fans and critics doubt his ability to lead the team on the field. Then there is defensive end William Green, the lone senior on a very young unit. He has already received compliments for the way he has stepped up in the spring. Wide receiver Deonte Thompson will be counted on to find a level of consistency that has been missing most of his career even as some younger players look to get more touches than he does over the course of the season. Last but not least is redshirt defensive tackle Jaye Howard, who will hopefully be healthy by the time the season rolls around and ready to contribute in a platoon with sophomores Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley.

The other seniors either already perform at a high level or are quickly becoming afterthoughts. Running backs Jeff Demps and red shirt Chris Rainey have already proven how effective they can be, as has cornerback Janoris Jenkins. On the other hand, redshirts CB Moses Jenkins and injured guard James Wilson likely won't have much of a major impact on the team in the coming season, even though Jenkins continues to work hard in practice in order to earn playing time on defense.

Q With Charlie Weis coming in and installing a brand new offense, how do you see the run/pass distribution working out? - Jared G. via e-mail

A Though Weis is known for his ability to coach quarterbacks and lead high-octane offenses, he is also quite efficient in putting together a quality running game. His offense with the Kansas City Chiefs last year led the NFL in rushing with an average of 164.2 yards per game. With a deep backfield, young receiving corps and offensive line that appeared - at least during the spring game (when the numbers were limited) - to be better prepared in opening holes than in protecting the quarterback, I believe the Gators will rely on the run more than most expect.

Between the speed from Demps and Rainey and the power from junior Mike Gillislee and sophomore Mack Brown, Florida's rushing attack will be counted on to lead the offense all season long.

Q What do you expect to see from Trey Burton this year? - Alan H. via Twitter

A The sophomore athlete is probably one of the biggest question marks going into August not because of his ability but due to the ambiguity with how he will be used within the offense. Though Muschmap and Weis have explained the F position thoroughly, Burton's role has yet to be completely defined.

He will likely carry the ball, block in the backfield, block at the line, block on the edges, catch passes and perhaps even throw a ball or two depending on what wrinkles Weis wants to introduce. Most of all, I expect Burton to be productive with whatever opportunities the coaches give him. His talent, passion and football IQ will not allow him get lost in the shuffle; Burton knows how to stand out and prove he can make an impact on the game.

Have a question or topic you would like Adam to discuss in a future edition of this column? Send Adam an email by clicking here or shoot over a tweet to @onlygators and let him know!



 

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