GAINESVILLE, Fla.-- Florida football is beginning its second week of spring practice this week. "No Huddle" breaks down the top headlines surrounding the Gators, as the team puts on shells on Monday afternoon.
football has had two practices under its belt last week, and Jim McElwain
is very pleased at the progress his team has shown so far.
"We had two pretty darn good days in helmets and shorts last week," said McElwain about his team's progress this spring. "I thought we got a lot accomplished. You can see just how far we've advanced simply by how our guys know how to practice."
But the Gators head coach is looking forward for his team to step up this week as the pads and shells come on.
"We're going into this week, obviously going to put some pads on. We're going to be in shells today, full pads on Wednesday and probably shells on Friday and then get after it a little bit on Saturday," added McElwain. "Really looking forward to seeing how we're going to be up front, both the offensive and defensive lines as we get going.
"You know our inside run and some of the things we'll do that way. I think this will be a real test if we've grown up a little bit in the OL. See if we can challenge ourselves a little bit."
Here is a look at the headlines facing the team this week:
Leader of the Pack
Luke Del Rio
is still ahead of the group, according to McElwain on Monday. As he "should be."
"He’s been here a full year," said the head coach. "For him, he’s gotta little bit of a leg up from a knowledge standpoint with what those other guys have really done. I’ve been impressed with Luke and how he’s helping those other guys.”
Overall McElwain has been pleased with the men under center.
"The guys are doing pretty good. You can tell that they've done a really good job in the classroom," he said. "They know when they make a mistake. You can see it kind of register a little bit. We're probably holding them (back) a little bit. It will be interesting now that we get some pads on and pick it up. I thought we were a little slow delivering the ball in some of our skulley. But the positive piece there is for the most part the ball is going in the right spot, and that's been good to see."
Impact of Veteran O-Line
The quarterback play will certainly improve behind an older, wise offensive line that has more numbers.
"Just in the drill work we’re able to do with the two and three spots," McEwain said about the numbers in the trenches. "I think the continuity, when you look at, it throwing Martez [Ivey] in there, giving Fred Johnson his as late as we did, obviously Tyler. Those guys were all true freshman and with Tez missing this spring, it’s just another setback. We’re going to have to have a great summer for us to keep moving forward.”
Although Ivey is certainly a loss this spring, McElwain admits having experience in the line this year unlike last spring, has certainly helped in practice.
"I've seen some really good things early out of David Sharpe
. I think he's really stepped up his production and really his want to play and how he practices. That's been great for the whole O-line," added McElwain. "Antonio Riles looks like he's really stepped up from a standpoint of playing a lot faster, and that probably has to do with them feeling comfortable within the system."
It also helps when a team has competition at positions, and on the line, the red-shirt freshmen guards have all done a good job making sure their bodies are ready for the upcoming season.
"They've done a pretty good job of reshaping their bodies," said McElwain. "They still have some work to do there, but... We've got some big guys who can move and move some bodies in there. It's good to see."
Early Enrollee Effect
Speaking of competition, the twelve early enrollees are certainly making practice more interesting.
"These guys are hungry, coming in here, excited about being here, learning everything they can. It’s fun. It’s also fun to see the older guys take a leadership role and kind of coaching those guys on the sideline," said McElwain. "One of the things I talked to the team about the other day, it was great during a couple of the two-spot drills just to see that we’re talking ball on the sideline. When they weren’t in, they were communicating with each other about what they were seeing. To see that communication with the older guys and younger guys is something. It was great to see.”
There is no better place to see a position battle brewing between the veterans and the younger guys than the wide receivers. As Bob Redman and I have said plenty of times, Freddie Swain
and Joshua Hammond
are the two receivers standing out.
"Let's put it this way:they force some pretty good competition in that room. I'm sure excited they're all here."
Obviously Florida loses Vernon Hargreaves III
, a defensive back that will most likely be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. However, McElwain says he is impressed with Marcus Maye
and Marcell Harris
. He says they "are feedinf off each other" really well in the first two practices.
Holley Going Places
Thomas Holley is hyped up and ready for the brand new year. According to McElwain, Holley was on the verge of a medical because of his hip injury, however, Holley lost the weight and now can move to defensive end.
"It's something he's kind of been motivated to do, as you can see he's really reshaped his body, doesn't even look like the same guy. I'm glad he's out there trying."
- Joey Ivie and Quincy Wilson are still dealing with hernia issues. McElwain says Ivie has been practicing, however, the groin has been "hindering him." On the other hand, Wilson has done a "pretty good job" in the first few practices.
- Duke Dawson will likely not practice on Monday (bruised foot). He should be back on Wednesday.
- Camrin Knight also likely not to practice on Monday (leg). McElwain hopes to have him back on Wednesday
- Kalif Jackson (Patella) could be out for the rest of spring.
As Bob Redman reported last night, both Austin Hardin and Travaris Dorsey are leaving the program.
"Austin's finishing up, we're excited he's finishing up his internship, and he'll graduate this spring. T-Dors is going to go to Tuskegee and finish out his career."
Bob and I will be at practice on Monday afternoon. We will have full updates later.