WR Carlos Perez

2002 Statistics

Coach: Ron Zook
8-5, 1 year
2002 Record: 8-5
UAB WON 51-3
at Tennessee WON 30-13
at Mississippi LOST 14-17
vs. Georgia WON 20-13
at Vanderbilt WON 21-17
at Florida State LOST 14-31
Michigan LOST 30-38

2002 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-24, BCS-UR

2003 Outlook

The main football issue here for the Gator Nation is establishing a new QB for 2003 and years to come. True freshman Chris Leak offers the most promise this way, making us wonder just how patient the fans and alumnus will be as he develops at his who-knows-how-long pace. If stuck with, he could easily show marked development by week 5. QB Ingle Martin would ground expectations and make error-free, creative Gator football this season's expected fall fare. Look for Martin or Dickey to start, unless Leak earns the spot, in which case the four-year clock starts ticking on how long into his tenure before he will produce his first SEC-East (and then overall SEC) title. Coming out of high school to start would set high-expectations into motion, which has been known to work negatively unless wins are produced. Gator fans have little patience (for rebuilding), but will need to find some with only an OL on which to bank.

The biggest pill to swallow will be defensively. The shock of seeing their entire front line (and its reserves) depart will cause Gator fans to wince as running teams slice them up. Getting burned early can have one of two effects - it can build character or, just as easily, keep any from growing. You learn more - about who, what, and where you are - by getting lost than by getting it right the first time. Florida needs to believe in the steep learning curve forced on them in 2003, knowing how each mistake needs to be a building block for future success. Easier said than done.

An intangible that has always kicked in for the major Florida programs when rebuilding is the deep talent pool there. Recruiting classes have been wrought with talent, making an average Florida high school player highly sought. The big three, Miami, Florida State, and Florida, get the most premium players from this rich supply. One has to believe in this macro-natured approach to measuring developing talent - players will emerge from nowhere to become Gainesville's newest house-hold names. Other recent eras of rebuilding (at Miami in the early 90s, UF after their two probations) have proven the deep pool translates this way.

Florida has a good schedule for such rebuilding. Opportunities are lined up to possibly make 2003 work. Either/both early contest(s), playing at Miami and/or a home tilt versus Tennessee, need(s) to be won for the season to have promise. Otherwise, it will be a measuring stick of disappointment growing longer with each loss. Look for between four and seven losses, with the middle SEC games (at LSU, at Arkansas, and Georgia) being their eventual Achilles heel. Zook will do his job well enough to make the players this season's focus and not his challenging second year. "Wait 'til next year" will have some real bite when the Gator Nation disappointingly mutters this in November and December. A mid-level bowl will be the stepping-stone for an anticipated 2004.

Projected 2003 record: 7-5
QB Ingle Martin
DE Travis Harris
RB DeShawn Wynn
QB - 2.5 DL - 2.5
RB - 4 LB - 3
WR - 4 DB - 4
OL - 4.5 ..

Passing: Ingle Martin, 10-7-0, 96 yds., 0 TD's

Rushing: Ran Carthon, 105 att., 563 yds., 5 TD's

Receiving: Carlos Perez, 58 rec., 591 yds., 4 TD's

Scoring: Matt Leach, 9-15 FG, 30-35 PAT, 57 pts.

Punting: Ingle Martin, 46 punts, 35.2 avg.

Kicking: Matt Leach, 9-15 FG, 30-35 PAT, 57 pts.

Tackles: Guss Scott, 102 tot., 69 solo

Sacks: Bobby McCray, 2.3 sacks

Interceptions: Guss Scott, 2 for 62 yds.

Kickoff returns: Ran Carthon, 17 ret., 22.4 avg.

Punt returns: Keiwan Ratliff, 32 ret., 10.7 avg.


CB Keiwan Ratliff
OFFENSE: Earnest Graham-TB, Taylor Jacobs-WR, Aaron Walker-TE, David Jorgenson-OG, Rex Grossman-QB (NFL)
DEFENSE: Marcus Oquendo-Johnson-DE, Bryan Savelio-DT, Mike Natiel-SLB, Byron Hardmon-MLB, Robert Cromartie-CB, Todd Johnson-FS, Clint Mitchell-DE (NFL), Ian Scott-DT (NFL)

written by Dave Hershorin

Thus begins the real new era of Gator football. Things seemingly changed when Spurrier left, and they did, somewhat. What was still consistent through sophomore coach Ron Zook's first year was QB Rex Grossman. He allowed Zook the leisure of slowly easing into this pressure-filled post. Grossman declared, leaving Zook rather desperate for a replacement. But that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg for a team that also lost both its top rusher and receiver.

Zook's solutions to his QB problem are untested, making for a rather lengthy debate not winnable until August, when we see what develops between now and then. Ingle Martin is the choice for experience. The sophomore has real game-time clocked under his belt, as well as being named a team captain briefly in 2002. Martin has running skills, too. He lined up at WR for eight games, making him a possible decoy/wild-card who can add an extra dimension. Look for this to occur as either red-shirted freshmen Gavin Dickey or true-freshman Chris Leak work out to become Zook's choice. Dickey has the complete package, speed with a 70-yard throwing arm, but at 5'10" is challenged to purvey all outlets over a huge line. He was Florida's 2001 Gatorade Player of the Year after taking his team to win two state titles. His stock is high, but then Chris Leak enters the picture. He set the NATIONAL high school record with 185 TDs (second in career passing yards for all prep history!) as he won 46 consecutive games and three state titles in Charlotte. The nation's top-rated 2003 QB recruit has to have the inside track. Zook couldn't have recruited Leak with the present QB situation with intentions of keeping him under wraps for long. We will keep you updated on the nation's top QB controversy. A rotation could prove beneficial to start, but one of them will eventually (by game 3) get the job to lose. The developmental pace at QB will be interesting, a true test of Zook's defensive mind and its needed range to get this done. Now, the Gator faithful will see what their future is going to be for (at least a few) years to come.

A gifted front line will help in these not-so-deep area's development. Four of the five 2002 starters return, meaning the unit will have the identity that was missing when they modestly averaged 3.8 yards-per-carry and allowed only 19 sacks. OG Shannon Snell will continue his dominance, pancaking so many opposing linemen the NCAA might investigate to see if he owns IHOP stock. They should forge better running numbers with senior speedster Ran Carthon taking over as feature back. His 5.1 average-per-run needs to carry over for this to happen. But this is another area where a player will make a name for himself this fall - someone else will be worked in for both immediate depth and 2004's need for an experienced inheritor.

But the line's most important task is to make whichever QB feel safe enough so he can develop as needed. Zook would like to avoid having broken plays and scary hits as his QB's only lessons. The starting QB's confidence is the key to this team going anywhere. If without any, the veteran line will be rightfully blamed, just as they will be commended if the next level is reached in 2003, a realistic stretch, but just not likely to be seen.

The three-receiver set is crying for recognizable names upon which to hang confidence. Yet both returning starters give reason why WR- and QB-confidence are to be developed and in better shape than how either appear now. Seniors Kelvin Kight and Carlos Perez have experience and decent 2002 numbers. They will be running routes knowing the need to get the air-game jump-started. But season-long plays by each of 36 and 41 yards suggest they are not the ones to instill DB honesty by stretching the field. Neither they nor any of the other three listed receivers show much size. Big senior TE Ben Troupe is the only oasis of size and experience. But the new running game may require him to stay home, negating his solid route-running and sticky hands. This area will be a work in progress, knowing back-ups will take over by 2004 and therefore need experience, too.

A toned down offensive scheme will help get the snowball rolling. The offense is easily tuned-up for higher performance if all parts fire properly. Zook will have his coaching metal tested as he tries to motivate a young team in the pressure-packed Swamp. Simplifying what the newbies have to remember will get their focus on performance - worrying about whether or not they are messing up complicated plays they may not even grasp yet would hinder any progress. This defensively strong coach better have some offensive cards to play after his initial five-loss season.


OG Shannon Snell


Returning Starters in bold
QB Ingle Martin-So Gavin Dickey-Fr / Chris Leak-Fr
RB Ran Carthon-Sr DeShawn Wynn-Fr
WR Kelvin Kight-Sr Dallas Baker-So
WR Carlos Perez-Sr Reggie Vickers-Jr
WR O.J. Small-Jr Keiwan Ratliff-Sr
TE Ben Troupe-Sr David Kenner-Jr
OT Max Starks-Sr Tavarus Washington-So
OG Shannon Snell-Sr Anthony Guerrero-Jr
C Mike Degory-So Bill Griffin-So
OG Bill Griffin-So Ryan Carter-Fr / Mo Mitchell-Jr (susp.)
OT Lance Butler-So Randy Hand-So / Jonathan Colon-Jr (susp.)
K Matt Leach-Jr Brendt Talcott-Sr



written by Dave Hershorin

Uh oh. Florida returns four defensive starters, only two from a front-seven that allowed over 4 yards-per-rush. Most of the down-linemen, LBs and their back-ups vacated. The DL's lone returning starter only produced two 2002 sacks and 20 tackles, with a beacon-in-the-night seven TFLs. This area of their defensive profile is presently unknown to even the Gator coaches. Talent exists, but it is (mostly) untested, and especially 'never-started' in status. Only weakside LB Cory Bailey brings game-time knowledge to their qualifying traits. The LB prospects all have size and speed, with Zook to lend his insights to jump-start these troops ASAP. Young linemen need to stay in their pass-rushing lanes, and not think their innate speed will change more than it can ruin through eventual over-pursuit.

Look for opponents to attack on the ground until stopped. Even if 2002's squad was fully back, they would get marginal scouting nods from us. It may seem like a lost cause to many true fans, but remember the tradition of Gator DL-men stepping up and establishing their names out of nowhere to eventually have great Sunday careers. We will update when needed.

The secondary returns two of the four who set the nation's 7th ranked pass defense in motion. But the loss of underneath help in LBs Natiel and Hardmon make the replacement of two DBs huge, too. Quality LBs make for (up to) a 20-yard buffer that secondaries get real used to having when running their schemes. Once its gone, there is an added challenge for DBs to stop big gainers that are actually small dinkers turned into major YAC by out-of-position, chasing frantically, two-steps-behind LBs. This area will be key…big plays cannot be allowed.

This Florida team will have their pass-stopping chores cut out for them. A big showing against Miami's unestablished QB could instill what the 2003 secondary needs confidence-wise. And 18-22 year old kids with confidence seemingly can do anything to which they put their minds, especially with team effort. Keeping the play in front of them will be important. Giving up big plays in early tilts could have an opposite, confidence-draining effect. Run-stopping cannot be their priority. So, if a DB is the team's tackle leader by the LSU game October 10th, believe the defense will be the team's weakest 2003 link.


SS Guss Scott


Returning Starters in bold
DE Darrell Lee-Sr Steve Harris-Fr
DT Sly McGrew-So Eric Holcombe-Jr
DT Kenny Parker-So Ronald Dowdy-Jr
DE Bobby McCray-Sr Travis Harris-Jr
SLB Matt Farrior-Sr Brian Crum-Fr
MLB Taurean Charles-Fr Todd McCullough-Jr
WLB Todd McCullough-Jr Reid Fleming-Sr
CB Keiwan Ratliff-Sr Matt Jackson-Sr
CB DeShawn Carter-So Johnny Lamar-Sr
SS Guss Scott-Sr Cory Bailey-Jr
FS Daryl Dixon-Sr Jarvis Herring-So
P Ingle Martin-So Sean Morton-Sr




All kicking was a problem. Punting and coverage yielded only a little over 30 net yards-per-punt. 2002 punter Ingle Martin is going to be a busy young man, so he shouldn't be punting to boot. He averaged over six yards less than senior Sean Morton, proof this should be Morton's job, period. Of Morton's meager 15 punts, six were downed inside the 20. Field position will be all-important this season - the new QB cannot be forced deep into his own territory and then be expected to deliver, just as the defense cannot afford to give opponents short fields with all their unestablished personnel. Matt Leach is a decent place kicker who will need to be better than 9-of-15 on FGAs. The Gators need to win games in this growing year, not marginally lose them.


OG Mo Mitchell and OT Jonathan Colon have been suspended from the team for violating team rules. These two have been in the doghouse with Ron Zook and AD Jeremy Foley ever since they left the field (early) in a loss to Florida State last season… RB DeShawn Wynn has been the most impressive back for the Gators early in the year and will get his shot at being #1 once fall practice starts… The use of DB Keiwan Ratliff at receiver has not been kept a secret, mainly for the reason that he has performed so well at that position. Expect to see him take about 10-20 snaps per game at WR… For all of those who feel that just because Chris Leak was the #1 QB coming out of high school last year, let me say this- do NOT think he has the automatic spot. Remember a few years ago when Brock Berlin was the higher rated QB, but was beat out by some Indiana kid named Grossman? That said, pay attention to Justin Midgett. Zook says he is equally as equipped for the job as Leak. Though Martin sits #1 on the depth chart, there is still no clear-cut starter heading into fall practice.

Suspensions might affect defensive depth this fall. Off-the-field problems and suspensions involving DE Steve Harris, LB Taurean Charles and LB Channing Crowder leave the depth in question. Crowder and Harris are facing criminal charges, and Zook says their status will be determined at a later date… DE Darrell Lee has done as well as coaches hoped he would, blossoming into someone with NFL potential this season- keep an eye out. On the other side, DE Travis Harris, who moved from OLB, made a great impression, especially with his pass rush skills… The corner spots were up for grabs all spring and remain that way heading into fall. JUCO transfer Reynaldo Hill should arrive and sew up the starting job opposite Ratliff, but the depth behind those two remains a quest. Larry Kendrick seems to have made some headway in that group… Incoming frosh Jarvis Moss might creep into a top-two DE position, if he performs notably this fall. He is a Parade All-American and brings a lot of promise.

Don't expect Martin to keep his punting duties, unless everyone else is that bad. Brendt Talcott and Nick Fleming kicked extensively this spring, and look to have a leg up. A name to remember for the kicking job is soph Chris Hetland. He has alternated shots with Matt Leach this spring and has a good chance of winning the job.