Practice observations: Passing game (8/14)

The backup quarterback battle continues to rage on through the second week of practice. Treon Harris had another strong day of practice.

When I wrote about the passing game on Tuesday, I called it the best day of practice for Treon Harris. He looked like he was getting comfortable in the offense and his throws were more crisp and on target. Tuesday’s practice wasn’t close to as good as he looked on Thursday.

Harris continues to improve and making a strong case to be Florida’s backup quarterback. He’s throwing confidently and isn’t hesitating. The ball comes out of his hand well, and even though his release is longer than Will Grier, the ball still gets out fast and has been on target.

Grier was more inconsistent on Thursday. He’ll make a perfect throw and ‘wow’ the crowd, only to follow it up with a pass in the dirt. He’ll be fine long term when those things get ironed out, but the inconsistency is puzzling now, especially after he had spring practice under his belt and Harris didn’t.

Quinton Dunbar had a good day. His route running is very smooth and has improved a lot since he first got to Gainesville. At this point in his career, we know who Dunbar is. He’s a solid receiver that won’t produce like a star, but those are still important pieces to have in an offense.

Andre Debose had his most active practice. The coaches have played it safe with him, not wanting to overwork his knee. He worked mostly with the second team and returned some kicks during special teams drills. It was a good practice and an important step after not doing much work in the early weeks of camp.

C.J. Worton continues to make plays in the passing game. The ball sticks to his hands, and what he may lack in some areas, he more than makes up for with his route running. The route running is how he gets open. He made a great catch in traffic down the field on Thursday.

I’m not sure how many balls he’ll catch this season, but Alvin Bailey has started to make plays this week. Harris looks for him a lot with the second team. Bailey showed good body control on Thursday, adjusting to a pass from Grier that was behind him to make a sliding touchdown grab.

Jake McGee is head and shoulders above the rest of the tight ends. He is really talented at catching passes, especially the one-handed grabs that he has shown off in multiple practices. He made one again today, running a wheel route and catching an overthrown pass from Grier.

Vernon Hargreaves III was the best cornerback on the field and that isn’t likely to change, but J.C. Jackson had the best day of the rest. He has worn an orange jersey throughout fall camp, signifying that he is non-contact because of shoulder surgery, but that jersey doesn’t have much significance.

Jackson succeeds because of his physicality. He doesn’t look like a freshman, especially not one that just came to Gainesville in recent months. He has the speed to stay with receivers and strength to push them off their routes. Jackson has the look of an immediate impact player.

The highlight of the day came from Jalen Tabor. In the final rep of one seven-on-seven period, Tabor went parallel to the ground to deflect a pass. He got a hand on it, bounced it up into the air and somehow managed to maintain his concentration long enough to get both hands on the ball before it hit the ground.

Quincy Wilson is definitely a competitor. During one-on-ones in the red zone, Wilson was quick to jump into reps against some of Florida’s starting receivers. He would jump ahead of others to get in on reps against Demarcus Robinson and Dunbar, who actually called Wilson the most impressive freshman defensive back earlier this week.

One player that has gone a little under the radar this fall is Nick Washington, but he has made plays and is getting most reps at safety. He had two interceptions earlier this week and had another strong day on Thursday. It’s hard to find a starting spot for him this year, but he’ll be a valuable, versatile piece.

Keanu Neal is fun to watch on the practice field because of his energy and attempts to always find someone to hit. There's no question he is Florida's best safety.

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