Practice Observations: Passing Game (8/13)

There haven’t been a lot of interceptions so far this fall, but the defensive backs, coached by Travaris Robinson, made up ground on Wednesday…

We have to start with the defense and most notably the secondary when we talk the passing game today. From the very first pass of offense vs. defense, the secondary exerted their will on the offense and the receivers.

It started in 1on1’s. Jeff Driskel dropped back to throw a crosser to sophomore Demarcus Robinson. With the entire field to use Robinson took two steps forward after the snap and cut inside, freshman cornerback J.C. Jackson was on top of Robinson from the snap and stayed engaged within the legal five-yards. Robinson lost his footing and Jackson lunged ahead at the Driskel pass and boom, the day began great for the young secondary.

A play later sophomore receiver Ahmad Fulwood got deep down the sideline on junior corner Brian Poole and caught a 40 yard bomb from freshman Will Grier. But that would be the highlight of the day pretty much for the receivers.

Freshman Quincy Wilson hauled in his third interception on a jump ball over Alvin Bailey on the third pass. Senior safety Jabari Gorman jumped a pass oi the middle of the field for a deflection. Then Jalen Tabor slides on a low pass in the right flat that may have been picked but not sure.

That little 3-5 minute segment of practice was honestly the most dominating defensive 1on1 segment of any practice I can remember. The thing to remember is what I pointed out earlier. The offense has the total advantage here. The receiver and quarterback know where they are going and have the entire field ahead of them to use. The DB has no safety help. The receiver is supposed to win that drill, and they didn’t.

But, the best thing about Wednesday was that despite an almost complete lack of interceptions during the fall, there were even more ahead and more quality pass break ups. Marcus Maye got in the act later in practice during 7on7 drills. Vernon Hargreaves had a notable pass breakup despite his first day back from injury and wearing a non-contact jersey. Marcell Harris had a couple of nice pass breakups as well.

It really looked like they didn’t feed the DB’s the Tuesday night and they came out to eat on Wednesday.

On the offensive side, Ahmad Fulwood is the guy that stood out today. He had the long pass to begin with and now that he seems to have healed from the hip injury that slowed him the first few days, he is going at it and a big play maker down the field.

I thought it was sophomore Demarcus Robinson’s worst day that we have seen, but he still had a couple of plays.

Senior Quinton Dunbar did get deep on a post pattern for a long pass from Driskel that would have scored. Dunbar was probably the second best receiver behind Fulwood on the day.

At quarterback, it was likely Driskel’s worst day. He was off, like he hasn’t been, throwing behind and a little high. Again it was abnormal for him, something we haven’t seen yet this fall. He looked like he was tucking and running a little quicker, something I think he needs to do, but he was getting a lot of heat up front and the DB’s were about suffocating as well.

Sophomore Skyler Mornhinweg had a decent day, he seems to make the right reads, and sometimes his arm can’t get the ball where it needs to go or he is just a little late with the read. He did hit senior running back Mack Brown on a smash route right up the middle as Brown split the safeties. That drew the ire of Florida head coach Will Muschamp because Brian Poole was out of position on the play.

Freshman signal caller Will Grier was kind of hit or miss. He hit a couple of nice sideline plays and then he pressed on a few throws that didn’t get to the target or hung his receivers out to dry with a defender ready to behead them. We definitely need to see more out of Grier. I will say he had the best reps in team drills and having to make a first down he hit Fulwood for 12 yards on the sideline in his first play.

I thought freshman quarterback Treon Harris had another good day. He is throwing the ball very sharp in the last couple of practices and has hit on a few plays. He didn’t find the running room he found yesterday when put in those situations, but he is throwing the ball with confidence and really starting to understand the positioning of his receivers on the field to get it to them.

Most improved unit?: Well, if you went by this practice alone we may have to jump on the defensive backs. But, for the entirety of fall camp I think I have been most impressed with the defensive line. The guys that hadn’t played yet are really making moves and showing things that we weren’t sure they could do. Gerald Willis, Taven Bryan, Caleb Brantley, and Jordan Sherit are all guys that haven’t played a down of college football and I think at this point in time are ready to do just that. I am almost ready to throw Khairi Clark into that mix as well. Joey Ivie played a little last year and has made immense moves as Muschamp said earlier in the week. Alex McCalister showed some real flashes on Wednesday that we hadn’t seen all fall. They need more from Bryan Cox, Leon Orr, and Darious Cummings, but this group of young linemen look to be very good.

Janoris Junior?: He looks like a clone of Janoris Jenkins, but that is freshman JC Jackson out there making plays on defense. There isn’t another corner on the team with his physicality and in truth he is an inch taller than Jenkins and he’s faster. This kid is going to be a great one before all is said and done, in my opinion.

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