Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Troupes Competing at TE; UF Hasn't Found Hands like Ben Troupe's, but the Position's Not Extinct

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Troupes Competing at TE; UF Hasn't Found Hands like Ben Troupe's, but the Position's Not Extinct

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael DiRocco, The Times-Union

GAINESVILLE -- The tight end will be a big part of Florida's offense again in 2004. It just won't be in the passing game -- at least not at first.

None of the tight ends on the roster is as accomplished at catching passes as Aaron Walker or Ben Troupe, who led UF with 39 catches last season, but these tight ends are much better blockers than those two, both of whom are playing in the NFL.

"[Offensive line coach] Joe Wickline said today in the meeting he felt like we were going to be better in terms of blocking than we were last year," UF coach Ron Zook said. "Everybody's used to seeing Ben Troupe catch the football and do all that stuff. Well, Ben was a guy we said we had to get the football to. That doesn't mean we're not going to throw to the tight end, but I don't foresee our tight end position -- at least early -- being our marquee guys.

"We feel like we've got some receivers that can make some things happen. Those will be the guys who probably will get the ball more."

That's what happened in Monday night's scrimmage. There were only two balls thrown to the tight ends -- one each to Markell Thompson and David Kenner. Justin Midgett's pass to Thompson was off target, and Kenner dropped a pass from Chris Leak that hit him in the hands.

Troupe had only four games last season in which he caught fewer than three passes, and he was a particular threat in the red zone. Three of his five touchdown catches came from 18 yards or less. He had two 25-yard touchdown catches against Florida State.

"The fact that they didn't get the ball [in the scrimmage] doesn't mean the tight end position is going to become extinct," Zook said.

Maybe just dormant in the passing game.

In the running game, however, offensive coordinator Larry Fedora is pleased with the work the 6-foot-3, 246-pound Kenner and the 6-foot-7, 310-pound Thompson have done. …

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