The quarterbacks were off on the day and it was really just a "thump" practice so gauging line play and running the ball during team drills was about useless. The passing game was off though and that is something to talk about with the coaches when they interview next week. It is early into the spring the defense should be well ahead of the offense, not to mention that the quarterbacks are so inexperienced.
When they moved to the nuts and bolts of practice, the receivers who most of the time should win most of the 1-on-1's, seemed to have a really rough time. One surprising matchup that went the defense's way was Marcus Roberson vs. Quinton Dunbar. Despite being in a non-contact jersey, Roberson has been very aggressive at both days of practice we watched and on Saturday completely took Dunbar out of his route and the third time made Dunbar do a triple move just to catch a very short pass and go. Not great for a guy that is expected to be one of your main weapons as a receiver, but really nice for a cornerback that many worried might not play next year due to a neck injury.
Trey Burton lined up in the slot a couple of times and had a win and a loss in the 1-on-1's. Matt Elam tied him up on the first one and then he came back and got the best of Josh Evans on a deep pass from Jacoby Brissett during the exercise. Overall, Burton has looked great in the passing game for the last two days.
Omarius Hines has had a couple of nice practices and done some things at the running back position. He had a long run in the team drills late on practice, and the senior turned a double cut in front of sophomore safety Jabari Gorman into a long pass completion that looked more like a crosser when the play was done.
Probably the most beautiful pass of the day came from the third quarterback. WE don't hear much about Tyler Murphy, but he hit Andre Debose on a beautiful deep seam pattern on the left hash. The ball was thrown well over 40 yards in the air and hit Debose perfectly. Debose had a couple of drops on the day, but a play like this has been his signature for the last couple of years.
True freshman and early enrollee Latroy Pittman had a really good day on Saturday. Pittman has a physical build to him already, but as he did in high school, he can surprise with some jets running down the field. In 1-on-1's Pittman toasted a very fast Loucheiz Purifoy on a deep Go route on the left side. It was a beautifully throw n ball by Jacoby Brissett.
Frankie Hammond didn't fare well in the 1-on-1's. On the first play he and Cody Riggs tangled and actually Riggs may have been called for holding as Hammond could go nowhere. His next go around, Hammond got deep on a fly pattern and behind Riggs and the ball was overthrown a bit by Murphy. Later on Hammond and Watkins tangled near the line of scrimmage and it was a real stalemate, but Hammond was able to shake the aggressive Watkins to break free on a medium depth drag route.
The one guy in the secondary that continues to struggle is true freshman cornerback Willie Bailey. That is totally expected and I think most should expect bailey to redshirt in 2012 anyway.
One surprise so far in the two days has been the amount of special teams practice going on. I worked 10 years of spring practice on the staff with the Florida football team and I don't ever remember this much time spent on special teams. That is one reason that we don't see a lot of special teams play in the spring football game.
During 7-on-7 (pass-skel) snaps late in practice, the snap count for the three quarterbacks was Brissett with five, Driskel with four, and Murphy with three.
Driskel was first up and completed all four passes, but three were less than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage and the fourth was less than ten.
Brissett went 2-5 in the drill. Marcus Roberson broke up a quick slant to Quinton Dunbar again. He later rushed a deep throw to trey Burton who was open but the pass was too shallow and not enough time for Burton to catch up. Brissett threw two short passes for completions and then had one dropped by tight end Clay Burton.
Tyler Murphy went 1-3 and an interception during the pass-skel drills. He had the longest pass completion when Trey Burton hauled in a double catch ball on a deep crossing route. The play would have resulted in an over 50 yard gain and maybe a touchdown. A quick out route by Mack Brown was jumped by nicely by Jelani Jenkins who promptly broke up the pass. Finally, Murphy drew the ire of the staff when a play broke down and he sprinted out. He drifted left and floated a pass that Jaylen Watkins easily caught up to for the interception. It was Watkins second INT of the day and again a very good day by the junior cornerback.
Earl Okine and Loucheiz Purifoy didn't finish practice because of injuries. Both looked fine when they left practice at the end of it all, but we have no details on either injury. They join a long line of injuries for guys that are out or at least part of spring practice.
A.C. Leonard was at practice again and the suspended tight end was carrying a small child with him on the way out of the gate in the middle of the session.
The quarterbacks were using a contraption I have never seen before. It is nothing extra special but resembles a target for an archer. A 4' wide by 2.5' high rectangle target for them to use during practice. At the end of practice they moved over to work drills and were doing a lot of foot work moving their feet quick back and forth, sideways and back again and then throwing at the target.
Florida had several high profile high school prospects on campus for the first Saturday practice session of the year. Amy Campbell and Jason Higdon have been all over covering this group and have verified that Florida committed prospects WR Rodney Adams, DT Caleb Brantley, RB Adam Lane, Saf Keanu Neal, LB Quinton Powell, and Saf Nick Washington were in attendance.
Likewise Several prospects no committed to Florida were in attendance. LB Alex Anzalone from Pennsylvania was there for the third day in a row. WR Richard Benjamin came over from nearby Tampa. DT Rod Crayton out of Alabama was seen at the Sanders practice field. St. Pete Catholic running back RB Ryan Green made it in. Big time Georgia OL Brandon Kublanow watched practice. QB Heys McMath of Woodberry Forest (VA) was seen leaving the practice field afterward talking to offensive coordinator Brent Pease. Big DE Antonio Riles from Lawrenceville, (GA) was easy to spot as well as McDonough Georgia DE Isaac Rochell. Citra North Marion CB Reggie Wilkerson was also in attendance.
Isaac Rochell (left) and Brandon Kublanow (right)
The Gators also had some younger prospects in the house as a pair of 2014 stars in safety Nick Glass of Atlanta (GA) and receiver Demarre Kitt of Tyrone (GA) were able to take in the practice session.