Practice Observations: Offense

There wasn't much debate that the Florida defense won almost every area of Saturday's open practice, but there were still individual players on the Florida offense that had good days. The Gators showed the ability to run the ball against a stout front seven, and while the passing game will need work before the opener on September 1, head coach Will Muschamp remains happy with where his team is.

Will Muschamp made clear after practice that the team didn't display anything that wasn't already on film from the spring game. Formations were simple and the pre-snap motions that headline the offense Brent Pease brought with him from Boise State were almost non-existent.

He didn't want any clues or hints out for any opponents. Muschamp said that with the way the Internet and social media have become, any new formations or plays in the offense would be spread to opponents.

On the field, it was up and down for the offense.

QUARTERBACKS: Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel battled inconsistency from the start. Brissett throws a pretty deep ball, but he lost control of it a few times during one-on-ones Saturday and threw it out of bounds, not even giving the receiver a chance to run under it. As soon as that happened, he would bounce back and throw one on the money. The inconsistency just needs to be ironed out.

Driskel threw the short routes the best of the two quarterbacks. He fit passes into tight windows and made accurate throws during most of the day. His deep passes were also hit-or-miss.

Tyler Murphy had some positive moments, and freshman Skyler Mornhinweg showed some tough on his passes. Muschamp has emphasized that Mornhinweg is a quarterback that looks better in live action that in passing drills, and that description held up on Saturday. He got the ball where it needed to go on most occasions.

"Driskel is not allowed contact for what the staff is calling a contusion (bruise) of his scapula. The issue is serious enough that he wasn't doing anything where they would even hit him with the pads. An early drill for quarterbacks, tight ends and running backs had them diving into and below big blocking pads and Driskel was not allowed to do the drill." – (from Bob)

"In 11-on-11 drills, the quarterbacks maybe didn't throw very well but they seemed to both step out of harm's way when the pass rush got to them a little bit. Both guys were able to step in the pocket and elude some very good pass rushes a few times during the team sessions." – (from Bob)

"Freshman quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg throws a really nice, over the top football. It is hard to explain, but as CDG8r was saying to me in the stands it has a downward spiral in the trajectory of the ball. I am not sure how that will effect deep balls, but I like the touch he gets on the short and medium range passes." – (from Bob)

RUNNING BACKS: Muschamp estimated that Mike Gillislee got six carries in Friday's scrimmage. That's about what he got during Saturday's practice, too. He's a senior who knows the offense, so there's really no use in overworking him.

Mack Brown, Chris Johnson and Matt Jones all touched the ball at running back, but Omarius Hines could also carve out a role at the position. Muschamp said he had a 61-yard touchdown run in Friday's scrimmage. They're continuing to search for ways to use him.

Hines could have a big senior year

One play that signified some of the pre-snap shifts the offense wants to run had Hunter Joyer line up as the lone back. He then motioned forward and to his left, and Hines shifted from receiver to tailback in an offset I-formation. Florida then ran a toss play to the left to get Hines on the perimeter. He'll be a weapon for this offense if he can stay healthy.

Jones looks like he could be a big receiver on this team. Instead, he's in the backfield and looks out of place. He runs well though. His feet looked quick during drills at the beginning of practice, and he showed his vision by finding the correct hole multiple times. As would be expected from a tall running back, he just needs to make sure his pad level stays down.

"Mack Brown runs kind of upright, but his legs and thighs are massive. I saw him carry Gideon Ajagbe for about five yards on one outside stretch play, and before the play was over he shook Ajagbe and a couple of other would-be tacklers and kept running. It was a very strong run form a guy we are all hoping does some things this year." – (from Bob)

"The backs really seemed to struggle with the one on one blocking against the linebackers in the pass protection drill. Gillislee was certainly the best at it, followed by Matt Jones, but Jones was whipped twice by Darrin Kitchens and another. Chris Johnson did get the best of Jeremi Powell one time in the best block of the drill in my opinion." – (from Bob)

WIDE RECEIVER: Andre Debose had a few deep receptions and would've had more if the throws were more accurate. He was one of the few receivers that didn't have trouble getting open deep.

The big change to his was physicality. In red zone one-on-one drills, Debose wasn't afraid to match the defensive back's level of physicality to help get himself open.

Quinton Dunbar made a nice catch on a corner route from Driskel. He was looking over his right shoulder for the pass, jumped off his right foot to spin across his body in the air and make the catch. He's the receiver that will bring down the highlight catches this year. The Florida coaches just want him to be more consistent. Latroy Pittman also added a diving, over the shoulder catch that drew applause from the crowd.

"Raph Andrades is one of those guys that just doesn't let up. On somewhat of a broken play when the ball should have already been thrown, Andrades continued on a deep crosser and angled it even deeper and finally outran Rhaheim Ledbetter to get to a deep ball. It was a heady and nice play by the true freshman during the team portion." – (from Bob)

TIGHT END: Jordan Reed was held out of practice with an MCL injury but is expected back on Monday.

In his absence, freshman Kent Taylor speed up as a passing catching threat. In the one-minute drill, he made two big catches. First, Taylor made a diving catch on a third down pass that was lobbed over his shoulder. It recorded a first down and set up the "winning" field goal for the Florida offense.

Taylor can be a weapon in the passing game

On the next drive, Taylor got open and caught a touchdown in the flat that ended practice. He uses his height well in the red zone, going up and over some defensive backs in one-on-ones in the red zone. He doesn't have the ideal weight to play tight end, but Florida will use him to his strengths this year.

Offensive coordinator Brent Pease raised eyebrows when he said on Friday that tight end Tevin Westbrook has been "phenomenal." It's easy to see his potential. He lost weight from his days as a defensive lineman and has a lot of height and athleticism. It's hard to expect a lot out of him this fall in his first season at tight end, but he's one to watch in the future.

"Tevin Westbrook has been getting praises lately from the head coach and offensive coordinator. The kid is huge and has actually trimmed down a little bit to play tight end. As posted on the message board, maybe he can be one of those rare finds at the tight end position, a kid that was a basketball player all his life and turns that athleticism into the one position on the field where they need height, speed, the ability to run far, a little bulk, and huge hands. Not saying he can do it all right now, but the kid has some tools and may have found a great position for himself." –(from Bob)

OFFENSIVE LINE: Whenever Dante Fowler wasn't on the other side of the offensive line, the group had a solid day. It wasn't anything dominating, but for the day after a physical, run-based scrimmage on Friday, the group had a good day. Pass protection was an issue at times, but you can easily see the improvement in the run blocking.

Muschamp has raved about it all fall, and it's very evident. Jon Halapio had a good day, and James Wilson moved around well at the other guard. I really think the tackle spot will be fine if Xavier Nixon plays better than he did in 2011. Chaz Green and Matt Patchan both look chiseled and ready for a big year if Nixon struggles.

Trip Thurman also caught my eye a few times. He's a big body that got reps at right tackle and isn't easily moved. The trio of Green, Nixon and Patchan seems able to carry the load this year, but Thurman could early reps in the coming years.

Thurman is a big body on the line.

"In the lineman portion of pass protection, Xavier Nixon looked great. The young buck Dante Fowler was very impressive on the day, but the now massive Nixon swallowed him up twice during the drill. This drill actually favors the defensive guy so it is hard to read too much into the offensive linemen getting beat. That said it appeared to me that two guys struggled, Sam Robey was bull rushed twice from his center position and it wasn't a good day for Chaz Green as well who started out on the first team at right tackle." -(from Bob)

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