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August 21, 2010

Saturday's 10 Gator football tidbits

FALL FOOTBALL PRACTICE: Q&A Lorenzo Edwards | Q&A with tight ends coach White | Friday's 10 practice tidbits | Q&A with John Brantley | Freshman receiver has impressed | Hurt battling for starting spot | Wednesday Practice Tidbits | Debose ready for action | Carl Moore Q&A | Meyer Tuesday Notebook | Henry gears up for senior season | Monday's Ten Gator practice tidbits | Drayton discusses younger backs | Monday Notebook: Jenkins leading in the middle? | Green breaks down defensive line | Football first for speedy Demps | Gillislee: Are the lights coming on? | Pain free Brown guns for starting spot | Loeffler talks UF quarterbacks | Scrimmage news and notes | Offensive line shuffling around, building depth | Alli emerging as a play maker | Dozens of more updates...

1. Asked specifically about the progress of true freshman linebacker Gideon Ajagbe late in the week, linebackers coach D.J. Durkin said Ajagbe was "in and out" right now.

Turns out, he's more "out" than "in."

The Miami Herald reported late Friday night that Ajagbe, a native of Coconut Grove, underwent surgery on Sunday to repair a partially torn rotator cuff. He'll be out up to 10 weeks and almost certainly will now be redshirted.

One thing is clear: The Florida staff doesn't give much up when it comes to injuries. A day earlier, InsidetheGators.net broke the news that true freshman offensive lineman Chaz Green would have surgery (hernia) Friday.

For what it's worth, Durkin said Ajagbe is a "phenomenal athlete" with a "real high ceiling."

2. Depth at quarterback is among the Gators' chief concerns. Behind starter John Brantley, there are two true freshmen -- Trey Burton and Tyler Murphy -- who have yet to take a college snap (Burton, though, did compete before 50,000-plus fans during the spring game).

Thus far, each has done well in camp, according to quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler.

Possibly the most tight-lipped of Florida's coaches, Loeffler won't say which one currently holds down the No. 2 spot, but a strong hint came when players said Burton got extensive action on goal-line plays Friday morning at practice. What Loeffler will say is this: He's pleased with how the two have progressed (hey, it's better than nothing right?).

Of Murphy, Loeffler offered up this: "He's coming along. He's made great strides from Day 1. It has been a great camp."

3. Why does Florida cross-train its linebackers? Because "in the game [if someone goes out] you want to get the next best guy in," regardless of whether he's labeled as an inside or outside guy, Durkin said.

4. Florida junior Caleb Sturgis has been named to the watch list for the Lou Groza Award, which goes to college football's best placekicker. Sturgis has a tremendous leg, but to have any shot at winning this award, he'll have to improve his consistency. He was 22 of 30 (with a long of 56) on field-goal attempts last season and 44 of 47 on PATs.

5. When fall practice began, Durkin said there were six guys competing for Florida's three starting linebacker spots. On Friday, he claimed that really hadn't changed.

"That stuff usually works itself [out]," Durkin said. "Those guys are competing like crazy. No one wants to let go of it."

If the season started today, the starters likely would be Jelani Jenkins inside, A.J. Jones on the strong side and Brandon Hicks on the weak side. The top backups probably would be Jon Bostic and Lorenzo Edwards. Based on interviews with coaches and players, it appears Dee Finley and true freshman Michael Taylor also are in the mix for playing time.

6. Since Tim Tebow's last game as Florida quarterback, Loeffler has seen an uptick in Brantley's role as a leader. It began in January, he said, and has been an "everyday process" that "doesn't happen overnight." That being the case, he said Brantley has "done a helluva job."

7. Durkin already is high on true freshman Chris Martin, who recently transferred in from Cal. "He's gonna have a heck of a career," Durkin said. Martin, a five-star prospect coming out of high school, can't play this fall because of NCAA transfer rules.

8. As of Friday, tight end Jordan Reed was still taking snaps at QB in the "Wildcat," tight ends coach Brian White said. At this point, it would be a surprise to hear that Reed was not running some of those plays. Given his mobility and knowledge of the offense, he seems like a natural fit for that. One player you might think would get a look in the "Wildcat", freshman wide receiver Andre Debose, said this week he hadn't been taking any snaps at QB in that package.

9. Will we see the Gators use any two-tight end formations in 2010? According to White, yes, we will. But he didn't give us a clue as to how often, instead choosing to provide the standard line that it all depends on the gameplan and what the opposition's defense brings to the table. Those are things the staff will "have to feel out," he said.

10. Not only has freshman safety Matt Elam slimmed down since the spring, but his play has improved, according to safeties coach Chuck Heater. Heater said Elam, who should play quite a bit this season, has a better feel for things and better technique. Most importantly perhaps is this: He's learning "how to play hard all the time."


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