SDS will be taking a tour around the conference and looking at each team’s progress – or lack thereof – made during spring camp. Next up, Florida.
Here’s what we learned during Florida’s spring practice:
Florida’s offense looks comfortable: For the first time in a year, Florida actually look comfortable in their new spread offense headed by Kurt Roper. Jeff Driskel looks more comfortable and his decision making was quicker, and his improved decision-making should have a trickle-down effect over the rest of the team. Receivers Demarcus Robinson, Quinton Dunbar, Ahmad Fullwood and Chris Thompson look to play much bigger roles this season, compared to last. With an improved Driskel, and with him actually using his greatest asset in his running ability, Florida could score 25 to 28 points per game, which would give the Gators a great shot to win nine or 10 games. Overall, the comfort level with the players and the new offense is very encouraging.
Adam Lane will make an impact: Kelvin Taylor will be a great player, but redshirt freshman Adam Lane proved this spring he’ll make an impact. Lane is built low and compact, tough to see as a defender and even tougher to bring down. A one-two punch of Taylor and Lane was what Will Muschamp was envisioning upon signing both in the 2013 recruiting class. That should come to fruition this season.
O-line looks much better: Jeff Driskel wasn’t even my biggest concern for Florida this spring; it was the offensive line. A discombobulated bunch in 2013, the unit looked much improved even during the spring game. New O-line coach Mike Summers has this group looking improved and ready to be the backbone of the new offensive attack. They looked stouter, sleeker and more athletic over the last month.
Two freshmen defensive backs: Early enrollee cornerbacks Jalen Tabor and Duke Dawson are ready to play now. Tabor is the real deal. At 6-1, he’s long and rangy, and you can see why scouts and evaluators have compared him to Richard Sherman. Tabor brings a certain mindset and attitude that he’s ready to dominate every single day. Dawson, on the other hand, wasn’t that highly thought of exiting high school; he was figured more as a depth chart guy who can make a future impact. But Dawson will remind you a lot of former Gator and current NFL corner Janoris Jenkins on the field. Dawson is short, compact and athletic and has very good ball skills. Many corners can run and cover, but it’s the ones with exceptional ball skills who become great players. Dawson has all of the above, and he’s ready to help the secondary out now.
A new leader: Florida doesn’t have any big-name linebackers like elite defenses usually possess, but rising sophomore Jarrad Davis is a huge sleeper to many around the SEC. Davis has emerged as Florida’s leader on defense, and he’s quickly earned respect among his teammates. Davis only recorded 24 tackles, including two for loss, but he’s ready to have a huge breakout season in 2014, if spring is any indication of how well he’ll play this season.
Let’s break down the biggest takeaways of every spring practice:
- Alabama Crimson Tide
- Arkansas Razorbacks
- Auburn Tigers
- Florida Gators
- Georgia Bulldogs
- Kentucky Wildcats
- LSU Tigers
- Mississippi State
- Missouri Tigers
- Ole Miss Rebels
- South Carolina Gamecocks
- Tennessee Volunteers
- Texas A&M Aggies
- Vanderbilt Commodores
Photo Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports