Gators camp opened today. Here's a few things that need to happen before the home opener on September 5.
- Stay Healthy: Hopefully Florida's injury bug is out of their system after a spring practice where anyone with a sore muscle was sat down. There is a belief that players must get into "football shape" (hitting and the unique things that happen in a scrimmage), but not at the cost of a player's health.
- Focus: At some point in camp, Urban will talk about how it was a bad practice and guys are not focused. This is what he does. Since we only get to see two practices, we have no idea how accurate this is. Look to Tebow and the older players for a better gauge of how good things are going.
- The Clusterf at WR: Who is it going to be? Carl Moore, Riley Cooper and Deonte Thompson? What about Frankie Hammond? Or David Nelson? Does Urban know Moore couldn't catch a cold last year? And where does Andre Debose fit into all of this?
- Andre Debose: My father (a former college player and high school coach) uses a term called "hard running". The idea is that you can be fast, but can you run hard enough to break tackles or burst through a closing hole. Percy Harvin had this ability and it led to most of his injuries. Bubba Caldwell had it too, but then he broke his leg and started to tip-toe through tackles. Andre Debose has been nursing a hamstring injury, so maybe the first few weeks of camp and the regular season won't be enough to judge him on. But if Debose and the Gators want the freshman to be Harvin 2.0, he better be a hard runner.
- Stay Healthy: No seriously. I especially don't want to see any Pounceys grabbing knees or shoulders.
- Will Carlos Dunlap make the Leap? I've never been upclose to Dunlap, so I can't say if he is build like freakish ends like Simeon Rice or Jarvis Moss. The number 8 on Dunlap's back may be slimming, but he looks the part, built like a T; wide across the chest with the legs of a heavyweight boxer. Dunlap has used this frame perfectly, culminating in being named defensive MVP in the Oklahoma game. However, after two seasons of growth, Dunlap cannot hit the cruise and assume that growth will continue. If anything, this is the year he will be targeted. Florida's defense is built on great linebackers and a deep secondary. But if Dunlap can dominate, it creates an extra level of concern for opponents.
- Realistic Expectations: We all want Florida to go undefeated. But the nature of the SEC, plus the nature of College Football, has drastically limited the chances of an undefeated champion. The Utahs and Boise States can still go undefeated, but they don't have to slog through Tiger Stadium or Ohio Stadium or Norman. In the Divisional Play Era (since 1992), five times a Big 12 or SEC team had won a title unscathed (Alabama, Nebraska, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas). Can Florida do this? Of course. But some days you got it and some day you don't. The only way UF guarantees a spot in Pasadena is an undefeated season. But don't be surprised if the LSU or Georgia games are more than just games that leave you with a chill.