Block-a-thon

<B>Monday Evening Practice Report</B><P>Jemalle Cornelius looks impressive as the redshirt freshman blocks three punts...

Florida coach Ron Zook said he hopes to return the Gators' punt-blocking ability its former state when he was the special teams coordinator in 1994.

If Monday night was any indication, he has his squad on the right path.

Jemalle Cornelius, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds, batted down three punts in a drill called The Block-a-thon.

"I just run," said Cornelius, claiming his speed is the only strategy involved. "I just go to the ball."

Zook, on the other hand, said it takes more than just speed.

"There's more to it than that, but he is fast," Zook said. "He's a lot like Jacquez Green was. No one knew Jacquez until he started blocking punts."

On the receiving end, punter Eric Wilbur appeared to be struggling in his first drill with a defensive rush. He had three of his punts blocked and flanked several others.

But Coach Ron Zook squashed the notion that Wilbur is taking too long. Zook said he timed Wilbur's trigger at 1.87 seconds.

"It's hard to get it off faster than that," Zook said. "If your getting it off under two [seconds] you're pretty good."

Instead, it was the efficiency of the punt-blocking team.

"We felt like in the spring he had the chance to be a good punt blocker," Zook said. "We're going to have a couple of guys. We've got some guys that are a little more athletic."

Wilbur made up for his blocks when he boomed a punt that sailed at least 65 yards in the air, drawing applause from the small crowd. He lined up on the five-yard line, and his punt rolled within the opposite 15-yard line.

OUCH: Cornerback Keiwan Ratliff may have given the most vivid description of linebacker Channing Crowder's ability to come up with hard hits.

"His main goal on the field is to try and hurt people," Ratliff said.

BIG EXPECTATONS: Tavarus Washington, who has been running with the first team at left tackle, said he is confident he will be the starter on opening day. Washington also said he has more planned for the season than just that.

"My goals are to try and hold onto my starting position, and also try to get all-SEC and all-American if I can," he said.

ROTATING QUARTERBACKS: After an impressive display from quarterback Chris Leak, Zook said the freshman's repetitions with the first team meant nothing to the progression of the quarterback race.

Instead, it was simply following the set rotation.

Ingle Martin will run with the first team Tuesday and Gavin Dickey will lead the Gators during Wednesday's scrimmage.

"They'll all get the same number of reps," Zook said.

Leak was clearly the most impressive of the batch Monday night, plugging two touchdowns through traffic into tight end Ben Troupe.


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