As we inch closer to the 2011 season, there is no question that there are plenty of questions surrounding the Florida Gators. Is this the year that John Brantley becomes the John Brantley we’ve heard about for four years? Is the depth issue that we’ve had slammed down our throats at defensive line really that big of an issue? Time will tell.
But for now, let's talk wide receivers. Part of the problem with the offense last season (and Brantley's issues) were the wide receivers. They just weren't creating enough separation. I've always said that Tim Tebow wasn’t the world’s greatest passer. But when your targets are Percy Harvin, Riley Cooper and Aaron Hernandez, those shortcomings, more times than not, get overlooked.
Since last season ended, a few wide receivers have begun to emerge. Beginning with Quinton Dunbar in the spring and continuing on with Deonte Thompson and Frankie Hammond Jr. thus far in fall practice.
If nobody else (cough, Andre Debose, cough) is going to step up to the plate at wide receiver this year, why can't it be Frankie Hammond?
Just take a look at this quote from Muschamp:
"Frankie, really, consistently has been our best receiver as far as catching the ball, finishing plays, blocking, all-around receiver plays,"
Could it be that a receiver whom none of us would have ever expected would rise to become a primary option on offense? Think about that for a second: If you were asked to list five wide receivers on the roster, how many of you would have said Frankie Hammond? My guess is not many. But here he is making serious noise in August. And the season starts within a month.
Competition is always a good thing:
"He made a lot of plays in practice, so he should be ready to produce," Hammond said of Dunbar. "I have to fight off the young guys. I've only got so much time here, so I definitely have to get ready in a hurry."
Talk about having the right outlook. Is this really the same Frankie Hammond who once was arrested for DUI and taken off of scholarship? It appears so. The wonders of getting older, wiser and more mature.
When asked whether or not it bothered him that Muschamp didn't include him in the "deep threat" receiver discussion:
"Yeah, it got to me, but the season is not here yet," he said. "We haven't run out on the field yet and actually played football. The fact that he said that - really, I wouldn't pay it no mind. There's still a lot of football to be played. We still have two weeks of camp."
And in two weeks, anything can happen.
With the way things are going, I fully expect Frankie Hammond Jr. to see a significant increase in playing time compared to last season. Especially if he preforms well early on in the season. And besides, it isn't like his competition is really taking it to him. Even though they probably should.
"It's on all of our minds because everybody wants to be that go-to guy," Hammond said. "Going into camp, nothing is set in stone, and that makes everybody want to go harder and give that extra effort."
I don't really see Frankie Hammond as go-to material though. I mean, I get what he is saying, and obviously I like that kind of talk. But typically, in a pro-style offense like the one Charlie Weis uses, the go-to receiver is usually of the taller, deep threat variety. But hey, nothing wrong with shooting for the top.
Now if we could just get Brantley to throw the ball downfield consistently.