Thursday Practice: In-Depth Look at Linemen

The Florida Gators opened practice for the first time in the fall for quite some time and there was a lot to behold before this 2013 season starts. Thursday it was warm and muggy, just like the coaching staff likes it to get ready for two noon type games to open the season. Here is my take on what we saw from the linemen Thursday.

Defensive Line

1st unit – Dante Fowler (BUCK); Dominique Easley (DT) Leon Orr (NT) Jonathan Bullard (DE)

2nd unit - Joey Ivie (DE), Bryan Cox (DE), Leon Orr (NT), Darious Cummings (DT)

One thing about this group, they all look like that guy you want to get off the bus first to intimidate the opponent. As I mentioned in the report earlier, even guys like Caleb Brantley who we heard negative reports about look pretty good on the fly. All this means is they have been putting hard work in this summer.

When watching the defensive line drills very closely, it is easy to see that DLine coach Brad Lawing is extremely picky about hand placement and the way they use their hands. I have been mulling this over in my head because the players talk about this as being one of the main difference in his teaching compared to that of former DLine coach Dan Quinn.

My thinking goes two different directions here. More technique with the hands means you have to have big time upper body strength and can rely on less speed. However here in Florida as we know we recruit speed everywhere. So, this would take the best of both worlds and teach these fast guys how to better use their hands when they already know how to use their feet quite well. Over-simplified I know, but hearing the players talk about it get you to thinking.

One example of this came early during the positional drill period when freshman Joey Ivie stepped up to the line of scrimmage in a 1-on-1 drill and made his move. Lawing did not like the way Ivie did that particular rep, so he pointed to Dominique Easley to do the same thing. Easley ripped through it like a hot knife through butter.

Then Lawing goes right back to Ivie. Ivie takes off at the snap, reaches behind the elbow of Antonio Riles, and as he is going by him, literally throws Riles to the ground because of the technique he used. Lawing gushed over the move and had a huge smile on his face.

Two things to take from that little segment of practice is that Lawing is really comfortable with the way Easley does things and that Ivie really picks things up quickly.

One guy that Lawing was constantly complimenting during position drills is defensive tackle Darious Cummings. I remember the first day I saw Cummings in the spring and I thought he was fat and out of shape. That changed by the end of spring ball and when I watched Cummings, I saw a lot of pop in his punch and some quickness ala Easley and Floyd. I really believe Cummings will be starting next to Easley at some point even though he isn't a natural nose tackle.


As for some other guys, Fowler looked really good most of the time, but I don't believe he had his best practice from all the rave reviews we were getting from the coaching staff earlier. He got caught up with the linemen a few times, but he also showed his quickness most of the time and will be very disruptive this year.

Orr practiced a lot and seemed to work both the first and second team a lot. He made a couple of plays but not enough in my book. Still, the nose is not really a play maker in this defense, but is supposed to take up space for the most part. If the WILL and MIKE linebackers are cleaning up in tackles, the nose is doing his job.

It was kind of hit or miss with Cox. l he would make an outstanding play on the edge and then get buried by linemen on the next play. In all he had a few more very good plays than bad ones though. Honestly, he is still growing into the position so that is understandable at this stage of the game to make some mistakes. The bottom line is they are going to need him to play before all is said and done.

Three guys I did not see enough of in action were Riles, Brantley, and Bostwick. One of the latter two should see the field this year and they need those guys to make a move.

Offensive Line

1st unit – Chaz Green (RT); Kyle Koehne (RG); Jonotthan Harrison (Center); Max Garcia (LG) or Tyler Moore; D.J. Humphries (LT)

2nd unit – Trenton Brown (RT); Tyler Moore (RG); Trip Thurman (Center); Ian Silberman (LG); Chaz Green (LT)

The call is short and sweet on the offensive line as of right now. They are definitely a run blocking unit. They also pass protect from the inside and against the bigger and slower defensive ends. The speed guys are an issue outside.

As I wrote yesterday, Harrison had the best day of any lineman I saw and the best day in practice from a center that may have ever seen. It isn't easy snapping the ball and getting a 300 pound body up in pass blocking stance or pushing forward run blocking, but when he got one on one with any lineman, he almost always won the battle. I thought he played well last year, but may be one of the most improved players on the team.

Garcia is a load and blocked well, but was limited in reps as he continues to recover from injury. He won most of his matchups with defensive guys, but there weren't a lot.

I like Koehne, always have. He is versatile and tough. He isn't an all0star, but a good slid 6th or 7th man on the line right now.

Both starting tackles, Green and Humphries, were beaten once or twice when lined up against really speedy guys like Dante Fowler and Ronald Powell. They held their own and did well against the beefier guys they played against.

On the second unit, I mentioned that I thought Brown had a surprising day and performed very well on Thursday. He is an absolute monstrous load, and his only issue is lining up against really speedy defenders.

Trenton Brown

I thought that Moore looked alright, but didn't jump off the grass at me. He is learning just about every position on the field, so it is likely some things will slow down for him soon and he will pick it up. Remember I can't watch everything, but that is what I got from what I saw.

When Jon Halapio gets back Moore will likely challenge at right tackle with Green. That is a solid six and you add in Koehne and brown to make eight that you feel pretty good about. That is what they are looking for and adding a ninth would be a real positive.

Octavius Jackson was injured and working out on the sidelines. I saw very little of Cameron Dillard, but again I can't see everything. Quinteze Williams was a non-factor and an afterthought.

One guy I thought showed promise was freshman Trevon Young who was moved from tight end to left tackle and hung in there pretty well. He certainly is having a bit of a culture shock having gone from basketball player to tight end to wrestling with 300 pound linemen, but he honestly made some serious blocks out there and looked like a guy that can help down the road.

Here is a play by play of the lineman 1-on-1's

1 on 1's

Chaz Green squares up and handles Joey Ivie on the edge the first go-around.
Darious Cummings vs. Tyler Moore went to a draw on one rep, Coach Davis didn't like it, called for a redo and then Moore got the best of Cummings driving him back a couple of yards.
Jonotthan Harrison and Dom Easley square off and Easley hits the wall, the stand still goes to the OLine.
Kyle Koehne gets the best of Leon Orr Bryan Cox, Jr. vs. D.J. Humphries. Humphries got the first step forward and then loses his balance and Cox helps him to the ground with a shove and runs by.
Jonathan Bullard vs. Trenton Brown. Bullard hits the wall and then goes nowhere. Give that one to Brown.
The next time Brown takes Bullard and drives him four yards deep.
Ian Silberman vs. Antonio Riles… tough call, but Silberman seemed to hold his own on that rep.
Trip Thurman vs. Caleb Brantley – Brantley shoves Thurman back five yards after Thurman snaps the ball.
Max Garcia manhandles Jay-nard Bostwick, backs him up 3-4 yards.
Trevon Young whiffs on Joey Ivie.
Humphries wins over Dante Fowler who soaked up by Humphries like a sponge.
Harrison got the better of Easley, then Easley comes back the next time and makes a really quick move to get by the big center.
Ronald Powell gets by Trip Thurman with a beautiful spin move to get to the quarterback.
Fowler had to run way too wide to get around the giant mitts of Trenton Brown and took a while to get to the backfield. Brown wins that one.
Bostwick gets a straight push on Koehne three yards deep.
Garcia stoned Brantley at the line of scrimmage.
Trenton Brown got the better of Bullard again.
Young did a pretty nice job on Cox driving him deep and out of the quarterback's pocket.

Combo block period (two OL and a TE or 3 OL vs. 2 DL)

Ivie gets right by tight end Kent Taylor, he doesn't look natural at the line of scrimmage yet.
Westbrook and Humphries put Bryan Cox on his butt with their combo block.
Cox does well in the drill on the next play after being put down, and Lawing is quick to give him some applause.
An unlikely duo of Young and Westbrook handle Bullard on the outside on a tag team.

Team (Offense vs. Defense)

Early on in practice Leon Orr shot through a gap and with penetration he forced an errant throw.
Ivie with a sack and went uncovered against Trenton Brown at LT
Cummings twists off of his man and gets to the quarterback in goal line play.
On the first play of team later in practice Ronald Powell scoops up the loose ball and heads for TD. The fumble was a bad exchange between Jeff Driskel and Brown.
Fowler was the beneficiary of a coverage sack
Fowler would have had another sack if whistle was blown, got by Garcia and Humphries on the left side.
Joey Ivie tears up Trenton Brown, too quick for Brown on that one.
Ivie busted up an end around from Showers and would have the tackle in the backfield.
Offense having trouble running wide on this defense and all the speed, the offense is better up the middle.
Offensive line wins the quick passing game stuff near the end of the practice session. The O went straight down the field with quick hitters, roll outs and quarterback runs.
Cox made a play on the edge and forced Driskel to throw high.

When Fowler and Powell were not involved earlier in the practice, the offensive line was getting the better of the defense. Once those guys were added in the mix, it got tougher for the offense to match up and keep that speed out of the backfield. Is that a positive for the defense or a negative for the offense? That is the age old question about what you really see at practice. Honestly, it is probably a little bit of both, but we know what the offense needs to work on moving forward.

Stay tuned as we continue our practice coverage for the next three open practices.

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