Open practice observations: Skill positions

The Florida offense has to develop more of a passing game in 2013, and even though it's only one practice, Thursday night showed some progress. The passing game was improved during all portions of practice. The Gators will need freshmen to emerge in the passing game as targets for Jeff Driskel, but some of the veteran players looked improved on Thursday.

The progression into the second year of the offense is easy to see for Jeff Driskel. He's in command of the offense, and players gravitate to him on the practice field. It's his offense. The throws looked like it, too.

Driskel was impressive in all of the live throwing drills. He hit Quinton Dunbar on a few slant routes and others close to the line of scrimmage. He stretched the defense with some deeper throws, hitting Solomon Patton over the shoulder and perfectly in stride for a 50-yard touchdown.

Arm strength has never been a question for Driskel, but he had touch on throws that wasn't there in his first year as a starting quarterback.

It's hard to judge much about the running backs during a practice when tackling isn't encouraged. Mack Brown looked good physically and made a few impressive catches during some of the drills pitting the running backs against the linebackers.

Freshman Adam Lane and Kelvin Taylor have the bodies to get on the field in their first years. Lane is listed at 5-7, 222 pounds and looks every bit of it. He's thick with tree trunks for legs. Dante Fowler called him the most difficult running back to tackle on Thursday, and it's easy to see why. Taylor's cutting ability is noticeable, even without dodging tacklers. He can cut on a dime and is impressive with the ball in his hands. Valdez Showers also took some reps in the backfield.

There was a clear top two at the receiver position Quinton Dunbar and Demarcus Robinson. They made tough catches in traffic and showed the ability to get downfield. They have an obvious connection with Driskel that should carry into the season. Robinson looks to have more ability to make defensive backs miss after the catch, and the Gators even ran a few designed shorter routes to get him the ball.

Trey Burton also had a good day. He ran some routes similar to how Jordan Reed was used last season, even catching a jailbreak screen that caught the defense off guard. He'll still move around to different positions, but it looks like most of his snaps will come as a wide receiver this year.

The tight end position wasn't seen much on Thursday. Clay Burton got most of the reps and had some good and bad moments. Kent Taylor and Colin Thompson were mostly trusted with short passes.

Antonio Morrison returned to practice a week ago and brought plenty of energy to the defense on Thursday. He's clearly a respected member of the defense. He was vocal and easy to spot in the middle of the defense. Neiron Ball also spent time in the middle, a move that was made last week. The Gators like his speed in the middle and he had added weight.

Daniel McMillian had an interception during the seven-on-seven portion of practice. Alex Anzalone had a nice pass breakup early in the day that saved a touchdown. Jarrad Davis has an impressive frame for a freshman and received plenty of praise from the coaching staff on Thursday.

Roberson didn't have a great day at cornerback, allowing some big plays over his head. The most impressive play of the secondary came at safety. Marcus Maye has received plenty of hype and looks like he's ready to live up to it this season. Keanu Neal had a few big hits and was always in position to make a tackle. He has the build to play in the box and be a run-stuffing safety.

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