Ah, there’s nothing like spring in Gainesville.
More new apartment complexes being built, pollen as thick as peanut butter and the water is just warm enough to dive in.
Tom Petty used to call it “Dreamville” …
A long time ago, light years from here
And the air smelled good in Dreamville
We also have something called spring football which I am sure you are aware of and this will be an interesting one for the Gators. They are coming off back-to-back 6-7 seasons and will eventually face a schedule that is probably more difficult than the brutal one they faced last season.
It concludes with a Thursday night spring game and by the time that is over, we will know a little more about the second season of Billy Napier.
The Dooley’s Dozen gives you the 12 Things Florida needs to get done this spring.
UAA Communications/Leslie White
Mr. Johnson, this is Mr. Jean. Mr. Mazzccua, this is Mr. Mitchell. Mr. Over, this is Mr. Under.
There are so many new faces, especially with a recruiting class that is only a couple of guys away from being totally enrolled, and new coaches that hopefully everybody can be on the same page as early as possible.
Find a quarterback
UAA Communications/Jordan McKendrick
I was kind of kidding with the first one, but this one is really serious. One would think that [autotag]Graham Mertz[/autotag] didn’t come all the way from Wisconsin in the transfer portal (what if it was an actual transporter?) to be a backup for a team that won six games last year. He has the experience and you would hope he steps right into that role.
Find another quarterback
Matt Pendleton/The Gainesville Sun
Sorry, but we are not sure there are any SEC-caliber quarterbacks on this team. So, the Gators not only need to find one, but a second one who can be the most popular man on campus.
Meaning, fans will be clamoring (how does one clamor?) for him if the starter is not doing well. This is not a strong quarterback room. But you know you have to have two coming out of the spring.
Find out which receivers you can trust
James Gilbert/Getty Images
I’m a big believer that this position is established in the spring because you scrimmage enough to find out who you can count on when the ball is in the air and a defender wants to smack you in the spleen.
Ricky Pearsall coming back is the known. The rest is unknown, especially with freshmen burners coming in. The numbers are there and the competition will be fierce.
Get the new DC and defenders on the same page
Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun
I’m guessing these guys are going to get used to the twang that is Austin Armstrong, the youngest defensive coordinator on the Power 5 level.
Let’s not forget that he is inheriting a defense that set records last year and not the good kind of records. This relationship needs to jell right away.
Build the middle of the defense
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
Golly, it feels like a long time since Florida could handle a running game because it was strong at defensive tackle.
Florida invested heavily in the portal at this spot so the depth should be better. But guys still have to show they can make plays.
Get the O-line to work as one
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
It certainly could be a strength again of this Florida team, but not all offensive lines have the chemistry to be five guys working as one.
There is no question the bulk is there, but when you are replacing four starters, there’s a lot of learning your assignments AND learning your teammates to deal with in the spring.
Find a new leader on defense
Tim Warner/Getty Images
We all know who it was last year, a guy chasing down Heisman candidates on a broken foot. But Ventrell Miller is gone and somebody has to keep these guys in line.
I’m not in the huddles and neither are you so there is no way of knowing the personalities and which players are the most respected. But I’m sure Napier has identified his go-to guy.
Start the special teams process
Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun
And by that I mean get better at special teams. Start working on establishing a return game that actually is an asset. Install punt-blocking schemes that will work.
You get the idea. The special teams play was a wash in too many games. When the Gators were great under Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer, they delivered at least one gut punch in every big game with special teams play.
Keep working on the culture
UAA Communications/Isabella Marley
Ok, Billy-barroo, you have your team. You weeded out the guys that didn’t want morning phone calls to remind them to go to class and now you have the kind of players you wanted.
But to have the right culture, you need to keep making it better. The success of this team will be less about better parking and more about 6 a.m. workouts.
Make it tough to throw the ball
Syndication: Gainesville Sun
We all know that the key to this season will be quarterback success, but I think the defensive backs should make it tough.
Nut just to help the quarterbacks realize what it’s like in the SEC, but to give the secondary a little confidence. The spring is huge for a group of defensive backs with experience and talent to start heading – as a group – in the right direction.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Saved the most obvious one for last. This is not a deep roster when it comes to games played experience. There are rooms that are woefully thin in terms of guys you know you can count on.
The last thing Florida needs is a rash of injuries – or even a few to key dudes – this spring. Of course, there is nothing you can do about that except find a one-legged rabbit munching on a four-leaf clover.
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