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Receivers get a head start on new system

By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published April 1, 2005


GAINESVILLE - Like most of his teammates, receiver Andre Caldwell isn't close to mastering Urban Meyer's complicated offensive system, but he can already tell it's tailor-made for him. It's the style he envisioned playing when he arrived nearly three years ago, and he's having a blast.

"This is an offense I love," Caldwell said. "This is the reason I came here: a spread offense, throw it down the field, get it into the playmaker's hands."

The former Jefferson standout was among the first players to arrive at receivers coach Billy Gonzales' office in January asking for copies of film from Utah games. He and other receivers wanted to spend extra time on their own learning the offense.

"It helped to see the other people (Utah players) execute it because they had been out doing it for a while," Caldwell said. "So we copied some things from them, learned from them, and now we're out there executing on the field."

Caldwell started all 12 games last season and was the second-leading receiver with 43 for 689 yards. He believes under Meyer's system, the offense will thrive.

"It's very exciting knowing we're going to just come out and attack a team," he said. "That really got me fired up and ready to go out there and play every snap."

Florida holds its second scrimmage 10:10 a.m. Saturday at Florida Field.

THE STREAK IS OVER: The softball team's school-record 13-game winning streak ended with a 5-3 loss Tuesday to Alabama. The Tide went 2-1 in the series, handing Florida (28-8, 7-2 SEC) its first conference losses of the season. The Gators are ranked No. 14 in the ESPN/USA Today softball poll, and though coach Karen Johns said there are areas in which the team needs to improve, its versatility makes it one of the best she has had in five years.

"The one thing I've learned is you can't recruit a one-dimensional player in any sport because you can stop that as an opponent," she said. "What we've tried to do is create more power and speed combinations on offense, create strong arms across the board in the infield and outfield. And we've created diversity in that way."

BOUNCING BACK: After its back-to-back losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky on March 11 and 13, Roland Thornqvist said he was surprised the way the veterans on his women's tennis team responded during the tough matches: with little fight at all.

The fight has returned. The losses knocked the Gators out of their No. 2 ranking, but they've played their way back into the Top 10. With wins over Top 10 foes Duke and North Carolina last week, Florida was the biggest mover in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's rankings, climbing from No. 17 to No. 9 on Tuesday.

Florida (10-2, 4-2 SEC) playsat No. 3 Georgia today, then at No. 25 Tennessee on Sunday.

ONLY THE BEST: The women's golf team plays its final tournament of the spring season this weekend, but as of Monday morning coach Jill Briles-Hinton wasn't sure which team members she was taking. They were in the middle of playing to qualify.

Ranked No. 15 by Golfweek, the team plays in the Bryan National Tournament in Greensboro, N.C., beginning today. But unlike years past, Briles-Hinton isn't just hand-picking who will compete. She's letting it be decided on the course.

"Typically in the past I have picked the teams because we haven't had the strength and the depth," Briles-Hinton said. "But the seven girls I have qualifying, I'm confident with any one of them in the lineup."

Each day will feature a round of 18 until the final shotgun start Sunday.

LACOMBE HONORED: Senior Chandra Lacombe was named the SEC field athlete of the week after a career-best NCAA qualifying mark of 3.97 meters or 13 feet, 1/4 inch, the second-highest collegiate finisher in the Coca-Cola Relays. It was also the second highest in Florida history and is the top mark in the SEC during the outdoor season.

Times staff writer Antonya English covers Florida athletics. She can be reached at 813 226-3389 or english@sptimes.com