One thing I noticed from the Florida coaches was the non-tolerance of mental mistakes. Twice I saw tight end coach Derek Lewis pull his guy during a drill because he jumped off-sides and replaced him with "the next guy". Muschamp has made this a bone of contention from last year and a lot of these type of things were prevalent at practice and I would say a bit unusual, especially for so early in the spring.
One issue about watching practice in helmets and shorts is that you really can't get a read on how well the guys are playing, especially in the trenches. Guys need to be able to lay pads on pads, tackle the ball carrier, and just hit or be hit to see how well they might do on Saturdays. It is even harder to gauge in the trenches and one on one's, but they are fun to watch.
We'll talk about the defensive line first.
The starting defensive line was BUCK Ronald Powell, DT Omar Hunter, NT Leon Orr, and DE Sharrif Floyd. Powell had a couple of great jumps in one-on-one's and really made mince meat of Xavier Nixon one time. He has added a few pouns, but the explosion at the snap of the ball is what we have been missing. Again, getting pads on will tell us a lot more in my opinion.
Behind Powell was Gideon Ajagbe and I really didn't notice anything frome him today.
Omar Hunter was battling with Kyle Koehne a lot today and it was actually a very good battle. Folks may not know it, but Koehne is one of the more physical linemen and Hunter held his own and won a couple of battles with Koehne. Hunter also beat Jonotthan Harrison with a nice move and some quickness, more on Harrison later who I think will be a different and even better player this year.
Nick Alajajian backs up Hunter and I was really impressed with the quickness and speed of Alajajian. He lost a little weight to play defense and the quickness should help him, but he did continually get swallowed up by the linemen. He has a ways to go with technique and that is expected right now.
I would actually say the same of Orr. He continues to play high and gets swallowed up by linemen. He is very quick, but he will really have to start getting lower and doing a better job of using his hands. There is plenty of physical ability to do some good things there.
Backing up Orr is junior college transfer Damien Jacobs. Jacobs is over 300 pounds now and maybe a little sloppy. He plays that way and hurls his body into situations instead of using technique. That may work in junior college, but not in the SEC. I like that he is too big and that extra weight can be toned into a better body, he never seemed to lack effort which is great for someone that seemed a bit out of shape.
We all know that Sharrif Floyd needs to play inside, but man does he look impressive at his 305 pound weight playing from the outside. Even when he lines up and before the snap he looks real athletic for his size. He is a hand full for whoever he goes against.
Earl Okine backs him up and got yelled at a couple of times, He is also wearing a huge club of a cast on his hand but is limited. Behind Okine is a guy that could surprise down the road. Tevin Westbrook seems to have remade his body and los a little weight. Now at 6-5, 267, Westbrook is leaner and really looks like a defensive end and a pass rusher. I think the original thought was to move him inside and Dan Quinn loves tall defensive tackles, but Westbrook's athleticism is fit for the outside where he can try and get by the long armed offensive tackles in the league. He got swallowed up by Xavier Nixon a couple of times, but you can see the quickness he possesses and again I think he will be an attribute down the road.
I spent most of my time looking at the linemen, but have a few thoughts on other positions.
Of the three it appeared Jenkins was the most active on Friday. He had a couple of passes that he found himself in front of, one he dropped, one he caught.
Graham Stewart looks to be in promo shape right now, he's down a little bit but is lean and muscular. He backed up Kitchens. Michael Taylor is the same guy, he will show up when the pads come on. Antonio Morrison has a great frame to add weight. Broad shoulders and relatively thin, he will get bigger.
It shows you just what they think of Roberson if he was in a non-contact jersey and still out there taking first team reps when he could. He is just so much more physically intimidating than the other guys, even when he isn't supposed to be with his red jersey on.
I am a huge Jaylen Watkins fan from his play late in the season. Was less surprised to see him working with the first team today than I was when Loucheiz Purifoy was listed as the starter a few days ago. Purifoy still got reps, but Watkins is thicker and probably just as athletic, although Purifoy may have the better speed.
I guess Willie Bailey was getting railed on by the staff and that is to be expected. The freshman cornerback just arrived two and a half months ago and has a lot to learn. Cody Riggs is always going full speed.
We didn't see much out of Elam and Evans, but the best play of the day is listed below and came from redshirt freshman safety Valdez Showers. He is markedly thinner than a year ago and looks to be more athletic and quicker. I like his look right now.
Defensive Play of the Day: It seemed out of nowhere, but Valdez Showers came from the opposite hash to pick off a pass from Jacoby Brissett on the offensive right hash. The ball seemed perfectly thrown to a streaking receiver when Showers cuts right in front of it and then heads for the end zone, through traffic, but untouched.
On to the offense and we will start with the offensive line.
Nixon is markedly bigger and seemed to get most of his added weight in his lower body. He is very vocal out there and seems to be a take charge guy, much like Muschamp intimated the other day to the media. He is still getting caught In no-man's land when he goes to block, but I expect the added weight will allow him to anchor better on the end. Nevertheless, it will be a battle between he and Matt Patchan for that spot.
Speaking of Patchan, he was very late to practice (probably some school issue) and when he got in he worked some at both tackle spots. He's listed at 279 pounds and I swear he is bigger than that. He looks plenty big to me to play offensive tackle.
True freshman D.J. Humphries is learning on the go and it isn't easy for him. Despite his quickness, he gets beat on the edge a bit. Once he gets enough weight and strength to anchor himself, that will change, but he isn't ready yet.
If I had to pick the best morphed body it would be Jonotthan Harrison. He was already looking like a man child last year, but his upper body muscles have muscles this year. He snapped well all day for the offense and won his fair share of one-on-one's.
I thought James Wilson looked particularly nimble, despite the cumbersome braces these OL wear.
Redshirt freshman Trip Thurman looked a bit overwhelmed in the one on one's. He was pushed back and run around a lot. He has a ways to go, in this man's opinion.
The quarterbacks alternated, but Jacoby Brissett took the first snaps. I swear it appears that Brissett is changing his delivery. His passes look lower to the ground and don't loft as much. His release seems aimed and lower. Despite obvious reasons like his jersey number, he really looks like he throws the ball like Chris Leak. Just like Leak his ball always comes out in a pretty spiral.
I thought for most of the day, Jeff Driskel looked a little better. It was close, but Driskel seemed to make better passes overall. He always throws the hard ball and more than anything he needs to learn to put some air under some of the deep balls. He had one on Friday that he missed deep because there wasn't enough air for the receiver to run under it.
A couple of things stood out with the running backs. Mike Gillislee should be the guy,. He glides through traffic better than anyone. I saw Mack Brown get a few snaps, but not many. Still, we are hearing they are very pleased with brown's performance so far.
It is probably my fault, but I didn't notice Omarius Hines at all. I did notice Chris Johnson (Juice), and he doesn't look comfortable yet at running back. He missed a block or two straight up and had to grab a bunch of jersey in order to not get his quarterback killed. It didn't even appear that he didn't know the assignment; just that he didn't have good technique going after the block.
It was just Jordan Reed and Clay Burton out there at tight end for the most part. Reed was getting a lot of the same plays called to him… the mid-range crossers and corner routes. Burton looked pretty good in my opinion. He has solid size for blocking at the line of scrimmage and seems to run very well.
No much stood out with the receiver except the play of the day mentioned below. The quarterbacks and receivers aren't on the same page a lot sometimes, especially on some of the deep balls. A lot of slightly overthrown deep balls got away from these guys and they need to start coming up with them.
Offensive Play of the Day: Jacoby Brissett three plays earlier threw the interception to Showers that was the defensive play of the day. Not lacking confidence, Brissett got the play to throw deep on a seam route on the left hash. A low trajectory throw, Brissett place the ball perfectly in the hands of a streaking redshirt freshman Ja'Juan Story who took the ball for a touchdown after never breaking stride. The 70 yard jaunt was really the only big play from Story all day, but may just be that one that turns the light on.
If I had to pick something about the offense that seemed like it will be new, I think most of the "trickery" will come from motions before the snap. They will move people to and from the backfield, align them wider to either side, and that kind of thing. We saw a great deal of it on Friday and this was only the second practice.
Despite everything I just wrote, it should all be taken with a grain of salt. Let us watch when the pads come on and I would be talking a whole new song and dance.
One thing we can see out of this group are the guys that look different. Now, I will give you my All Body Transformation Team, the five guys that look different and better.
The top guy on the list is center Jonotthan Harrison. He is up about 15 pounds and is absolutely chiseled and beastly. It all seems upper body, so hopefully his quickness on the line will remain.
Jelani Jenkins has put on some weight and his upper body looks much more conducive to going through the rigors of the SEC. He's probably up about 10 pounds from a year ago.
Sharrif Floyd has also put on weight and he is no doubt frothing at the mouth to play more inside. He is absolutely huge, but so quick and nimble on his feet, he is fun to watch. He is up about 15 pounds from his playing weight a year ago.
Not all the looks are added weight. Nick Alajajian moved to the defensive line and shed some pounds to help him be quicker. He certainly looked quick to me a few times, and looks trim at his 285 pounds.
I mentioned it earlier, but I really like the look of Tevin Westbrook and the fact he will be playing defensive end. The high school basketball star has the athletic ability to be bi time off the edge. I also think a guy that hasn't played as much football like Westbrook, will have an easier time playing on the edge than inside.
Odds and Ends:
Solomon Patton was evidently hurt during practice and left on crutches after it was over.
Dominique Easley walked around the fields as he is recovering from knee surgery. He was wearing a Hoodie, including having the hood over his head. The temperature in the sun was most likely in the high eighties. After practice he walked off the fields with his dog "Chucky", a pit bull named after the horror picture doll.