Practice observations: Passing game

The Gators hit the practice field on Monday for a shorter practice than most of the others this spring. The Florida passing game didn't have its best day, but sophomore wide receiver Demarcus Robinson was the best of the group. His athletic and pass catching skills were on display throughout the practice.

The expectations were high for Demarcus Robinson as a freshman. He stole the show in open practices during last spring and was expected to make an impact immediately. However, off the field issues earned him two separate suspensions during an inconsistent freshman season.

Multiple players have said this spring that Robinson has grown up and learned from his mistakes last year. On Monday, he looked like the player the Gators thought they were getting at receiver. He was a favorite target of whatever quarterback he was on the field with.

The biggest testament to the trust the Florida staff has in him was the number of routes he ran. Last year, he didn't have the best knowledge of the playbook and wasn't consistent enough to earn a big role. Jeff Driskel looked his way on multiple third downs, including one on a perfectly timed out route where Robinson caught the ball on his way to the sideline before cutting upfield and dodging a tackler to get some extra yardage. He punctuated his strong day with a touchdown catch from about 30 yards out.

Alvin Bailey made a few nice plays, and it's clear how he will be used. The redshirt freshman lined up in the slot a lot and made multiple catches on drag routes, using his speed to get to the sideline in the two-minute drill or make a defender miss and get extra yards.

For as strong of a spring as he has had, Chris Thompson was only average on Monday. He dropped a perfect throw from Jeff Driskel over his shoulder in the end zone.

Driskel had an inconsistent day. He made some strong throws -- like the one that bounced off Thompson -- but he just hasn't shown the ability to his opener receivers for plays in a row. He threw a laser to Bailey down the sideline and on the next play designed as a screen for Bailey, the ball went way over the receiver's head and was incomplete.

Quarterback Will Grier took a large number of reps with the second team. He ended the two-minute drill on one play early in practice, but that came after Nick Washington intercepted a deep ball. Washington added a big hit later in practice that was one of the highlights of the day."

Every practice story that includes observations from the Florida secondary could call Vernon Hargreaves the defensive MVP and be accurate. Monday was no different. He's a truly special defensive back with the work ethic and focus to make him one of the best in the country.

Across from him, the Florida freshmen both had impressive moments. Jalen Tabor started practice by hanging in Ahmad Fulwood's hip pocket, jumping at the perfect time and deflecting a deep ball. Duke Dawson has the physicality to play right away, and if he can stay at cornerback with his size, he looks ready to handle the position this year. His size and love for contact could make him a perfect fit in the nickel spot, but junior Brian Poole likely has that job locked down.

There was a familiar face working with the Florida safeties. Matt Elam was back on the practice field, working through drills in shorts and a Baltimore Ravens t-shirt. When he wasn't going through drills, he was watching closely to inspect every move the Florida players made. If one messed up, Elam took them to the side to correct what happened. He was truly invested in what happened with some of the younger safeties.

Fightin Gators Top Stories