That sound of rushing wind heard throughout the state came from the Dizney Lacrosse Stadium on the west side of the Florida campus where the Gators are holding their preseason practices. The first sound of violent, howling wind was the collective gasp of the Gator Nation when Vernon Hargreaves III went down with a knee injury after emerging from a pile of receivers and defensive backs who got into a full scale melee about midway through Thursday night’s practice. The second was the collective exhale of hundreds of thousands of Gator fans when head coach Will Muschamp announced after practice that an MRI revealed the injury was only a bone bruise. Muschamp said Hargreaves is day-to-day.
Quarterbacks: Jeff Driskel is throwing the ball on the money and with touch. I haven’t seen him throw the ball this well in the entire time he’s been at Florida ... The ball gets out of Will Grier’s hand and to the receiver in a real hurry ... Treon Harris doesn’t have the velocity on the ball like Driskel or Grier but his mechanics are absolutely flawless ... Not a good night for Skyler Mornhinweg. Based on what I saw, he’s firmly entrenching himself as the #4.
Running backs: Kelvin Taylor and Matt Jones showed nifty feet in a footwork drill that made them dance through obstacles. Taylor, especially, looks quicker to the hole ... When Adam Lane stands next to David Sharpe (6-7, 336) his helmet is barely above Sharpe’s waist. He’s so low to the ground that the linebackers have a hard time finding him until he’s already in the hole and then it’s too late ... Mack Brown looked good catching the ball out of the backfield ... Brandon Powell has a gear that none of the other backs have ... Mack Brown is a very good back but he might struggle to get carries.
Receivers: Tight end Jake McGee, a Virginia transfer, could do how to do it films on how to catch the ball in stride. He’s really a smooth operator and he’s moving at a high rate of speed although his long strides make it seem as if he’s not motoring along so fast ... Demarcus Robinson looked good on a long touchdown throw from Driskel ... C.J. Worton is going to see the ball often this season ... Kurt Roper definitely has plans for Valdez Showers in the slot.
O-line: The first unit line was (left to right) D.J. Humphries, Tyler Moore, Max Garcia, Trip Thurman and Chaz Green ... Green is in the best shape of his life. Looks lean and mean ... They’re going to have to figure out how to get David Sharpe on the field. All that work on the basketball court has paid off with a nifty set of feet. When Sharpe stood next to Humphries (6-5, 290), Hump looked like a skinny high school kid standing next to an NFL lineman ... Trenton Brown did a lot of standing around and watching.
D-line: Not at all impressed with Darious Cummings tonight. Caleb Brantley and Khairi Clark are going to relegate him to part-time status ... Gerald Willis has an absolutely astonishing first step ... If the D-tackles get any kind of push up the middle that effectively eliminate the double teams on the outside, Dante Fowler Jr. could set sack records ... The kids are looking so good at D-tackle that Jonathan Bullard is playing more on the outside.
Linebackers: Michael Taylor looked steady and did a nice job of maneuvering through traffic, plus did a great job jumping a slant route ... Alex McCalister was the buck linebacker but they had him lining up at both the inside and outside linebackers and bringing the heat on the pass rush ... Daniel McMillian looked comfortable and confident. Last year he looked like a lost ball in the tall grass most of the time.
Secondary: Duke Dawson had the best night. He played corner, nickel and safety plus had a pick on a deflected Skyler Mornhinweg pass ... Dawson and Nick Washington were teamed at safety ... Marcus Maye and J.C. Jackson were in non-contact jerseys ... Jalen Tabor has quick recovery speed but he’s got to get better jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage.
Special teams: Austin Hardin had a bad day trying to put the ball between the uprights ... Frankie Velez got a lot of foot into the ball. Too bad he couldn’t get it between the uprights, either ... Kyle Christy tried his hand at kicking field goals and while he hits line drives, he was closer to the mark than any of the other kickers ... Christy launched a punt that went approximately 75 yards on the fly.
Alabama: Defensive tackle A-Shawn Robinson sprained his knee and is listed day-to-day ... Alabama has gone 79-15 the last seven years by dominating the offensive line of scrimmage. Bama has three returning starters – C Ryan Kelly, LG Arie Kouandjio and RT Austin Shepherd – but only Kelly seems safe to stay at the same position. The other two might be moved around as the plan is to find the five best linemen regardless of position.
Arkansas: Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney says quarterback Brandon Allen has a healthy shoulder and a take-charge attitude going for him. Chaney said, “His mechanics are cleaned up and polished. For the most part, his feet are set and he’s throwing accurate balls.” Allen completed less than 50% of his passes last season.
Auburn: Defensive tackle Devaroe Lawrence is back at practice after missing two practices and a scrimmage due to an undisclosed injury. Derrick Moncrief, expected to start at safety, missed a practice and a half due to an illiness and dehydration ... Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson has Auburn working extensively in 3-3-5 sets to help combat the up tempo offenses that don’t give defenses time to sub.
Georgia: Mark Richt has decided he’s not going to be as open as he has before when it comes to talking about injuries. That being said, the Georgia injury report thus far is: WR Malcolm Mitchell (cartilage, out indefinitely); CB Shattle Fenteng (shoulder); WR Chris Conley (undisclosed injury, non-contact jersey); QB Hutson Mason (sore throwing arm, didn’t throw Tuesday); OLB Leonard Floyd (undisclosed injury; non-contact jersey); TE Jordan Davis (did not practice); ILB Ryne Rankin (did not practice, no reason given).
Kentucky: Head coach Mark Stoops isn’t buying the 6 a.m. practices as an excuse for lethargic play. “Just not tough enough, not enough energy,” Stoops said after another lackadaisical practice. “We weren’t clean enough on either side of the ball. Just wasn’t good enough.” Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot was also disappointed after the Wildcats first practice in pads. “They hadn’t put pads on in a long time. I thought they’d be excited.”
LSU: Although they lost last year’s starting defensive tackles to the NFL, no one should feel sorry for the Tigers. Sophomore Christian Lacouture is looking good at one of the tackles and head coach Les Miles says “Frank Herron is a beast.”
Mississippi State: One reason a lot of pundits call Mississippi State a dark horse that could win the SEC West is because the Bulldogs return the most experienced team in the SEC and the third most experienced team in the entire nation. Mississippi State returns 57 of the 69 players who lettered last year and 12 senior starters, which ties with Auburn for most in the SEC.
Missouri: Corbin Berkstresser and redshirt freshman Eddie Printz are locked in a battle to back up starting quarterback Maty Mauk. Berkstresser has the experience edge after getting four starts and playing in 10 games in 2012 ... The expansion of the east side of Memorial Stadium is nearly complete. When finished it two weeks, it will raise capacity to 71,000. Missouri also announced plans to build a full length indoor practice facility.
Ole Miss: Safety Anthony Alford, who got a $750,000 bonus from the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012 and hit .320 in the minors this summer, says he just isn’t ready to give up football. Alford says, “Football was my first love and even if I made $100 million dollars down the road in baseball, I’d still regret not giving football a shot.”
South Carolina: Redshirt freshman Connor Mitch has taken the lead in the battle to back up starting quarterback Dylan Thompson. Like Thompson, Mitch is a pocket passer ... Do-it-all back/receiver Pharoh Cooper is getting reps as the wildcat quarterback ... Quarterback Brendan Nosovitch, who Steve Spurrier has been giving some reps at tight end, is considering transferring out ... South Carolina’s admissions department won’t allow freshman fullback Joe Blue to enroll in school.
Tennessee: The defensive coaching staff spent the day screaming at players to lineup correctly and get into the right substitution packages. The spin will be to blame it on youth but the Vols really aren’t that young. Yes, they have an all-new defensive line but they have plenty of experience at linebacker headed by A.J. Johnson and Curt Magit and all four of their projected starters in the secondary have at least eight career starts under their belts.
Texas A&M: The Aggies return four of five starters on the offensive line where junior center Mike Matthews is turning heads during the first week of practice ... The Bryan, Texas police department announced that stud freshman wide receiver Speedy Noll is no longer a person of interest in an aggravated robbery report from July.
Vanderbilt: After a scrimmage dominated by the offense, head coach Derek Mason had praise for quarterback Johnny McCrary, who threw a long touchdown pass to Trent Sherfield. “I’m starting to see some things from McCrary,” Mason said. “He looks like he’s trying to make a move on guys.” Patton Robinette, who started some games last year, and LSU Stephen Rivers, were thought to be 1-2 at QB before the scrimmage, but McCrary might have overtaken them.
When you first saw the tweets and practice updates that Vernon Hargreaves III had injured a knee, was your first reaction “Oh no, here we go again?”
If you were a teenager in the 1960s, then you understand the significance of “Surfer Girl” by The Beach Boys. If you were a guy, when you heard the song you dreamed of walking on the sand at sunset, holding the hand of a beautiful girl in a bikini. If you were a girl, you dreamed that you were holding the hand of a tall, tanned guy who rode the waves and oozed California cool. Brian Wilson was 19 when he wrote the song in 1961 but it wasn’t released as a single until the summer of 1963 as part of the “Surfer Girl” album. Both album and single rose to #7 on the charts but the song lives on as one of the true iconic songs about the California surf culture.