Kan Li / Scout

Gators' Spring Practice Observations: March 23

Things were much more intense on Wednesday than they were on Monday at the practice fields for the university of Florida football team. The caching staff also seemed determined to get some of the younger guys some work.

From Bob Redman…

After stretch, the team always opens up with what they call “fast ball”. They start on each 40 yard line heading to the end zone and they run 4-5 plays and see if the offense can score or if the defense just pins them back.

On this day the two quarterbacks were redshirt sophomore Luke Del Rio and true freshman Kyle Trask.  Del Rio has usually been one of the guys and been on top of his game. On this day, that wasn’t the case.

After completing a short option route to redshirt sophomore Moral Stephens, Del Rio had a pass broke up but senior safety Marcus Maye, then was sacked when indecision hit and he couldn’t get the ball off, then another incompletion.

Starting 30 yards away on the opposite 40, Trask looked much more in command of the players around him. He found the same route on play one with sophomore   tight end Camrin Knight. Then he quickly got his teammates lined up and handed the ball off to senior running back Mark Herndon for a short gain. After another short completion, Trask found freshman receiver Freddie Swain on a 20 yard post route for a touchdown and threw Swain open on the play.

On this day, the freshman first year player looked much more comfortable than the fourth year sophomore who has pretty much owned the spring so far.

This young gun slinger from Texas is making a name for himself.

I then went and watched some half line running drills and got a real up close look at Mark Thompson. I know we keep talking about how big he us and his straight line power but the dude is real quick to get to where he needs to go as well.

Caleb Brantley was a man child during the drill. He was the most disruptive force Daniel McMillian and walk on LB Steven Stipe also made some plays.

After watching the Fast Ball session I wandered over to watch the lines of scrimmage and the half-line running drill. Here is where they split the lines of scrimmage. Center, guard, and tackle, maybe a tight end on two sides and going against a DE and a DT, and maybe the two linebackers up front. Also a quarterback handing off to a running back who is trying to get what he can beyond the line of scrimmage.

On the right side, Fredrick Johnson and Tyler Jordan got the best of Caleb Brantley and Bryan Cox and big Mark Thomson was able to scoot through the hole in the middle on some zone blocking.

This drill was pretty hard for freshman Feleipe Franks who was flipping from side to side very quickly and seemed confused in the drill, you can tell they were trying to make him move fast and see what he can handle. Quarterback coach and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier was over there and talking him through it.

Senior linebacker Jarrad Davis hits the jets and finds a gap to get in the backfield on the right hand side bringing down Mark Herndon before he had much of a chance.

Joey Ivie, Jordan Sherit, and Daniel McMillian stuff things up nicely on the left hand side of the offensive line on one play. McMillian gets to the ball carrier in the backfield.

After watching Mark Thompson run several times in this drill and up close, you really see his enormous size, but then he surprised you with the quickness. You can tell he has been rained and they want him to run hard to the designated hole, and he does that. But a dynamic running back has to know when it just isn’t there, and he can shift laterally to get outside. Thompson did that a few times in the drill and you just don’t see that from guys his size very often.

Brantley and sophomore CeCe Jefferson were eaten up by Stone Forsythe and a pulling Tyler Jordan on a power play on the right side. Jordan was able to get to the second level to seal the linebacker and spring Thompson for what would have been a huge gain.  Thompson was able to take a short angle for what would have been a very long play. I heard this was the same thing that happened on an 80-yard touchdown in the scrimmage on Saturday.

Walk on Steven Stipe finds a gap along the second team offensive line on the left side and gets to Mark Herndon in the backfield to go down.

I missed a couple of the plays themselves, but do know that Caleb Brantley at least three times was so disruptive and made life miserable for his offensive counterparts. On one particular play he cut inside a walk-on center on the snap and nearly took the hand off before mark Herndon could get it.

After that drill, there was some nice action of the tight ends versus the defensive ends in a drill designed for the tight ends to run block. It is all about leverage and there were some fun battles to watch.

Keivonnis Davis has been a guy that has continuously impressed. He got some props from defensive line coach Chris Rumph on a couple of occasions in this drill. On one pass through Keivonnis and Cyontai Lewis squared off and it was a pretty even battle. Lewis gives him props for the battle and Lewis is one of the better blocking tight ends on the Gator roster, if not the best.

After cheering on senior Bryan Cox in one battle, Rumph got on his butt for one rep with DeAndre Goolsby.

Redshirt freshman Jabari Zuniga and Goolsby squared off in one battle that was pretty much even.  

Finally sophomore Camrin Knight got the best of freshman Jordan Smith and Rumph used the rep as a teaching moment.

From Jacquie Franciulli…

Celebrities on hand were Jack Del Rio (Luke’s dad and Oakland Raider’s Head Coach) and Steve Spurrier,

Prospects on hand included 4-star WR Henry Ruggs, Gators 4-star QB commitment Jake Allen, and 3-star Miami QB commit N’Kosi Perry, 2018 4-star RB Justin Watkins.

Allen and his dad seemed to be enjoying practice. They loved the pace of practice from their looks. Coach Skipper and Nussmeier both talked to the visitor, who paid a lot attention to the QBs. Wherever they went, so did he.

Junior receiver CJ Worton crashed into a fence at the end of a play and the trainers worked on him for a little while in the side. He had to be helped up. It seemed like his knee was giving him trouble and also of course looked shaken.

The WRs and QBs looked far better than Monday. The wide receivers had some nice grabs with Hammond coming out big in drills with a nice one handed grab. Luke Del Rio still looks like the number one guy, but Trask today really stood out. I thought he looked crisp and quick. Appleby continues to be erratic and not consistent at all.




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