GAINESVILLE -- Gator Clause will be in Tampa on Thursday and Friday for the Florida Sports Writers Association press conferences. Every college football team in the state will be represented and sports writers will get their first chances of the preseason to ask questions.
UF's Urban Meyer will speak with reporters on Thursday. Here's your chance, oh faithful reader of this blog, to enter the conversation. Post a question for Meyer on this blog in the comment field or email me at jgoodman@MiamiHerald.com and I'll begin a list. I'll whittle the list down to 10 questions and make sure Meyer addresses each one.
This is your chance to be a UF beat writer, so don't let me down! I'll start it off with a few obvious questions Meyer must address:
5. Depth at safety took a few hits this offseason. What's the plan for the position heading into preseason practice?
4. What are some things the defense can do to offset the losses at safety?
3. The bad news is your defense is a little thin at one position right now. The good news is your defense returns nine starters. How is the defensive outlook right now compared to last season?
2. One of your main concerns this offseason was addressing the false sense of entitlement the underclassmen displayed before the beginning of the 2007 season. How would you describe the team's collective attitude on the eve of two-a-days?
1. Brandon Spikes had a poor offseason in 2007. This offseason, Spikes has really embraced what it takes to be a success at UF and a leader. How important is it to have a player of Spikes' importance embrace the program's philosophy and become a role model?
SPIKES NOW THE LEADER COACHES KNEW HE COULD BECOME
Gator Clause realizes it's a little backwards to pose a question about Spikes' poor offseason in 2007 without first explaining the background of that question. Well, whatever. That's the way it's going to be. Here's the explanation:
As many of you know, I spoke with UF strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti last week. One of the topics that came up was Brandon Spikes' newfound enthusiasm for working out. In the 2007 offseason, Spikes didn't take workouts very seriously and it led to a slow start in two-a-days last August.
"I don't know how much effort [Spikes] put into the weight room last year," Marotti said. "Like a lot of really talented athletes, he didn't have to work much in high school to be better than everybody, so I think a little bit of that carried over to college.
"He had an adjustment period and now his whole attitude is completely changed. Now he's talking about loving workouts and he knows how important the offseason is for his personal goals and the team's overall goals."
MAROTTI CAN'T WAIT FOR A DEMPS VS. RAINEY FOOTRACE
Jeffrey Demps wasn't on campus in Gainesville but for a few days and already Marotti wanted to pit the almost Olympian sprinter up against UF speedster Chris Rainey in footrace. Marotti talked about it but passed on the urge to see the two players dual.
"I almost raced them the other day but it wouldn't be fair," Marotti said. "I imagine there will be a race once we get in pads. We'll line them up. You've got to remember that Demps is one step away from being in the Olympics. That's really fast. He had like the fastest high school time ever."
Marotti says Demps is more than just a speed demon. UF's strength and conditioning coach was surprised at Demps' strength considering he's just an incoming freshman. Demps weighs 175 pounds but Marotti said the running back has the strength of someone who weighs 225 pounds.
Marotti made it sound like Demps has the potential to get a serious look during two-a-days for playing time as a freshman.
"We're going to see what he's all about," Marotti said.