Practice report: Running game

With full pads on for the Florida team this week in spring practice, the Gators are able to implement some of the more physical elements in the running game under the new offense. The coaches have found a first team offensive line they trust in the early part of practice, but a young, talented defensive line had standout moments on Wednesday.

The defensive line was led, as it will be in the fall, by Dante Fowler. The junior defensive end is in phenomenal shape and was virtually unblockable on Wednesday. He wasn't on the field with the first team every snap, likely because he is the player on the line that needs the fewest reps. But whenever he was out there, he was creating havoc.

He went up against Trenton Brown on back-to-back reps. The first time, Fowler beat him with an inside spin move. The next rep, Fowler went around Brown with his speed. Expect a big fall out of the defensive end.

Jonathan Bullard continued to play inside and outside on the defensive line. Him lining up inside allows Bryan Cox to get more reps, and he does look bigger this season. Will Muschamp praised his efforts earlier this week for the strong spring he is having.

At defensive tackle, it's all about upside. Leon Orr is out for the spring, giving more reps to other players. Darious Cummings rejoined the team after being away while his father had a procedure done. Cummings was active on Wednesday.

Jay-nard Bostwick had the best day of the trio of redshirt freshmen. He pushed his way through the middle of the line and grabbed running back Mark Herndon with one arm during the early portion of practice. The defensive players were being instructed to keep the ball carrier from being tackled to the ground, but Bostwick's one-armed hit forced Herndon to the ground, drawing a rant from Muschamp.

Caleb Brantley has definitely dropped weight since showing up on campus, but the story for him will come down to consistency. When he's giving full effort and focused, he can be a difference maker. When he gets lazy, he gets pushed around. Florida needs him and Antonio Riles to continue improving this spring.

The Gators used a big three-down defensive line of Bostwick, Brantley and freshman Taven Bryan, who passes the eye test for a freshman. With those three starting the play with their hand down, Fowler was a standup rusher at the BUCK position.

Jarrad Davis had the best day of the Florida linebackers. He looks to have added a little weight since last season, and he's not afraid to hit. He's another one that loves contact and usually struggles to slow down in the periods of practice where the coaches want defensive players to keep from tackling. Davis and Antonio Morrison served as the first team linebackers when Florida was in the nickel.

The first team offensive line has stayed mostly the same. Left tackle D.J. Humphries, left guard Trip Thurman, center Max Garcia and right guard Tyler Moore. Right tackle has flipped between Chaz Green and Trenton Brown. It switched multiple times throughout practice on Wednesday, allowing both players to get on the field with the first team unit. Humphries never moved from the first team left tackle position.

Moore had a good day at left guard, stoning Joey Ivie on back-to-back reps. Garcia played well at center, having far less snap issues than he did on Tuesday. He's athletic enough and can get to the second level of the defense to throw a block.

Tevin Westbrook has been targeted more this spring than I expected. Jeff Driskel even targeted him on a corner route into the back of the end zone from about 25 yards out. The ball was slightly overthrown but still hit Westbrook's hands before bouncing out.

The big play from the tight end position came from DeAndre Goolsby in a really interesting play design from Kurt Roper. Goolsby was attached to the right side of the line with receivers to his right in the slot and out wide. The slot receiver ran a drag route to the opposite side of the field while the outside receiver ran a fly route, taking a corner and safety with him. That opened up the middle part of the field on the right side, where Goolsby ran an out-and-up route and caught a perfect pass from Driskel for a big gain.

Kelvin Taylor looked like he had an extra gear on Wednesday. He served as the first team back and took most of the carries with Adam Lane working with the second team. Lane runs hard and uses his diminutive stature to his advantage, getting even lower at contact to push through and create extra yards. Mack Brown also took second team reps.


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