- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It’s time to dip in to the GatorNation recruiting mailbag and answer your questions. Because of the number of questions we’ve received, we won’t be able to get to all of them today, but we encourage you to ask your questions on our Insider fan forum, The Chompions Club. Astute readers will also notice a new spot on our homepage where you can submit mailbag question about the football team at any time. We read every question we receive.
GatorT51: Do you think Mike Gillislee will be the featured back and get bulk of the carries against BG or do you think it will be by committee with Gillislee, Mack Brown, Matt Jones & Trey Burton getting an equal number of touches?
A: Gillislee will be the main back and I expect him to average about 15-18 carries per game this season. He had a fantastic spring and August and made his biggest improvement in pass protection. He’s had a nagging ankle injury the past two seasons but seems to be over that. Mack Brown and Matt Jones will get their share of carries against Bowling Green and the two will continue to battle throughout the season to be the No. 2 back behind Gillislee.
Impulse36: Haven't seen many Boise St. games, what is Pease's passing game like? Does he go with short passes, screens, throws that require timing? Does he usually throw it deep? From the spring practice, sounds like we play action into deep throws. The coaches (or possibly the reporters) tended to mention receivers getting behind the defense and catching deep passes. Are the QBs capable of making that quick three-step drop slant throw (pinpoint accuracy) or are they more suited for throwing deep (strong arm)? How much is expected of the QB at the line of scrimmage, is he expected to make hot reads, call out blitzes? Thanks!
A: Whew, long list of stuff. I’ll try and answer it all as succinctly as I can. Pease’s offense uses all of those things, and one of the things I’m eager to see is the screen game. UF hasn’t really been a good screen team, with the running backs, anyway, and I’ve always thought that was an area in which the Gators could excel. The problem the QBs are having right now, though, is in their timing. They’re both holding onto the ball too long, which is normal for any young quarterback. Jacoby Brissett seems to be having that trouble a bit more than Jeff Driskel because he doesn’t want to leave the pocket. There are some play-action deep throws, but I question the ability of the receivers to consistently get open.
Bruce: I know it is a year off, but with Jafar Mann moving to OG, our DT depth looks worrisome for 2013. Sr. Damien Jacobs, Jr. Leon Orr and So/R.Fr. Quinteze Williams looks like the only returning players at the position and it is hard for true freshmen (though Joey Ivie and Caleb Brantley looked talented) to make a dent on the DL in the SEC. The loss of Omari Phillips really hurts. Thoughts?
A: I wouldn't be surprised to see Mann move back to DT, plus Dan Quinn talked today about some DEs moving inside and playing some DT, too. Jonathan Bullard is a guy who could do that. If Dante Fowler keeps getting bigger he may end up at DT, too. They'll be mixing and matching to create depth.
Pookie: Is Brissett as immobile as he appears? He seems slow. Or was that just indecision last season?
A: He's not beating Jeff Demps or Chris Rainey in a footrace, but he's not John Brantley, either. He can move around a bit. He is just a prototypical pocket passer and wants to stay in there as long as he can and make the throw.
Jack: Which freshman do you think will have the biggest impact in 2012?
A: Fowler. The DE/buck showed up to camp 40 pounds heavier than when he signed and was still just as quick. UF needs pass rush help and he'll be given every chance to provide it. Another guy could be WR Latroy Pittman. Gators desperately need a receiver to emerge. He's been bogged down by learning the entire offense, but if he can settle in there he could be a big part of the passing attack in the second half of the season.
Chris: With Texas A&M opening their season with the Gators, do you think the Aggies have more time to prepare for the game than us? Or because of the progressive changes in offense, it only gives us an extra advantage on the SEC newcomer?
A: I think the situation actually benefits UF more than the Aggies. They have a new coach, new offense and new QB and they won't have a game under their belt in which to work the kinks out. You definitely want to play them early in the year instead of late.
RussianTurtles: Do you think Ronald Powell is rushing back too soon? I know we all want him back, but I’d rather have him redshirt this year than lose him halfway into his first game back.
A: I did a story that ran on Wednesday that talked about how it is possible for a player to return from an ACL injury in 4-6 months. Powell seems to be meeting all the criteria for that to happen: motivated individual, quick healer, strong work ethic, aggressive rehab. If he’s cleared to play in mid-October, then I can’t see a reason for him not to play. The only issue is he wouldn’t be in football shape, but that would come within a few weeks.