GAINESVILLE -- Spring practice begins on March 25. There is going to be plenty of storylines to cover this year and the biggest might be quarterback Tim Tebow's transition to a new quarterbacks coach.
Dan Mullen is gone and the new guy was brought in to -- this is everyone else's thoery and not mine -- help get Tim Tebow to the NFL. New quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler coached Tom Brady and Chad Henne at the University of Michigan before coaching for one season with the Detroit Lions. Loeffler spoke with reporters on National Signing Day but didn't say much beyond the company line. When asked if Tebow could succeed in the NFL, Loeffler answered with an overly dramatic, "Damn right he can."
Well, Loeffler couldn't offer anything concrete. He'll know more about Tebow in the coming weeks. Give the guy a break, right? He's only been on staff about a month, he has been recruiting the whole time and Tebow has been recovering from surgery.
Loeffler explained that Tebow had the "it" factor. A few years ago, Loeffler started recruiting Tebow to Michigan when Tebow was only a sophomore in high school. "From day one meeting the kid he has had "it" and he will always have "it," Loeffler said.
In other, just as vague words, you know "it" when you see "it?"
"Hey, man, is that "It" walking down the street?"
"Yeah, man, I heard "It" is moving to Cananda. "It" just up and cracked. Can't take "it" any longer.
What is "it," you're asking yourself? Is "it" something that only slick quarterbacks coaches and NFL scouts and general managers can understand? Does "it" come in pill form?, you're secretly asking yourself.
EXPLAINING THE 'IT' FACTOR
It is an amorphous entity that no one on Earth other than Joe Montana, Tiger Woods, Tim Tebow and Stephen King could possibly try to understand. "It" is like the human version of a Jedi knight's metachlorian count. "The Force is strong with this one," explains Yoda.
"The Force is what gives a Jedi his power," says Obi-Wan Kenobi in Stars Wars (the first one). "It is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together."
We'll have to wait and see what Loeffler can contribute that Mullen could not. My guess, not much. That's not a knock, of course. That just means Mullen was pretty good, too. Loeffler is new to the spread (although he said he has been studying it for a long time), so he's going to be busy learning that this spring. My guess is Loeffler was brought along more for John Brantley's sake than Tebow's.
Loeffler on Brantley: "I know his family. He comes from good stock."
Maybe I'm way off base on that? Anyway, that's a little preview of the quarterback-coach storyline I'm sure you'll be reading about once the spring rolls around. Here are a few more spring storylines to keep in mind:
MORE SPRING STORYLINES
1. Replacing Percy. Who's going to do it? Everyone says Andre Debose but Debose can't participate in spring practice. Is Brandon James the answer?
2. Emmanuel Moody, where are you? This guy needs to show up in a big way. It's time for Moody to earn the trust of his coaching staff.
3. Offensive tackles! The most important story of the spring, in my opinion, will be the development of the new offensive tackles. Marcus Gilbert, it's time to take charge. Gilbert is expected to fill one of the open tackle spots. Who wins the other starting role? Does a Pouncey move to the outside?
4. Matt Patchan. Where is he going to play?
5. Deonte Thompson has waited two years for this spring. Time to earn your scholarship, kid.
6. Is David Nelson the new wingman? What about Riley Cooper? How will the baseball season interfere with his spring football schedule? Which young receiver will earn playing time?
7. Where is UF thin? Answer: Tight end. Aaron Hernandez will be the only scholarship tight end this spring. How will that affect spring practice, the offense?
8. One story I'm looking forward to writing...With so many starters returning, will the most heated spring battles be on special teams? Maybe this is the ONE story that will put into context how good Florida is right now: Florida is so good, five-star recruits are trying to win starting spots on special teams...that sort of thing.
9. Could we be looking at the best defense in Florida football history? Historically, what are some other SEC defenses that might compare?
10. Tim Tebow story. Can't leave this guy out no matter how many times you've written about him. What is his role this spring? What does he work on? What kind of cereal does he eat? Boxers or briefs...or maybe boxer briefs? Mission work?