Leak makes big debut in scrimmage

<B>Wednesday Scrimmage Report</B> <P> Florida freshman <B>Chris Leak</B> lived up to the hype in his first scrimmage at The Swamp as the offense dominated the Gator defense.

As Florida players went through their stretches before Wednesday night's scrimmage, several Gators threw their hands in the air to a rap song belting from speakers set up on the sideline.

The song? "I Ain't Ever Scared," by an artist named Bone Crusher.

Freshman quarterback Chris Leak must have been listening closely. Because an hour and a half into the scrimmage, the highly hyped freshman phenom still hadn't thrown an incomplete pass during the regular phase.

All throws included, Leak finished the night 12-for-14 with 226 yards and two touchdowns, living up to all expectations in his first-ever performance at The Swamp.

But Coach Ron Zook continued to take the cautious approach, praising all four quarterbacks any time Leak's name was mentioned.

"All four did some good things," said Zook, who will begin to narrow down the quarterback depth chart within the next few practices. "Chris is a very talented individual. It's fun to watch them compete."

Leak started the evening with a 26-yard completion to freshman running back Pat Kelley. On the next play, he gunned a pass 20 yards to Jemalle Cornelius, who flew 60 more yards for a touchdown.

On one of the most impressive throws of the game, Leak rolled out and faded another 25-yard pass to Cornelius in the right side of the endzone.

"Chris did real well for his first scrimmage and his first time in ‘The Swamp' as a true freshman, huh?" Cornelius said. "He puts the ball right on the money."

Aside from the Leak-Cornelius connection, the rest of the Gators offense also exploded Wednesday, making it clear they are far ahead of the defense thus far into two-a-days.

A slew of Gators, most notably Dallas Baker and tight end Ben Troupe, appeared comfortable with their routes.

On one play, quarterback Gavin Dickey threw a 20-yard pass to Troupe, who then bounced off and broke away from a defender on his way to an 80-yard touchdown.

"I was just having fun out there," Troupe said. "This is when you can show the coaches what you can do. A scrimmage like this will really help give the offense some confidence through practices."

Even in the backfield, while projected starter Ran Carthon watched with a tweaked groin, DeShawn Wynn picked up his pace with 61 yards on six carries. Ciatrick Fason struggled to hold onto the ball with a fumble, but did manage 27 yards on four carries.

"The fumble I had tonight, I was trying to make too much happen," Fason said.

During the evening, none of the quarterbacks had substantial struggles, but none looked as impressive as Leak, either. Ingle Martin was 9-for-14 for 67 yards with one rushing touchdown. Freshman Justin Midgett was 9-for-16 for 92 yards.

Of the most notable mistakes on the night, Midgett nearly had a pass intercepted and Dickey tossed an interception of his own.

On defense, few Gators made impressive showings Wednesday. Freshman linebacker Channing Crowder and defensive tackle Maurice Mitchell, who was converted from offense, were involved in nearly every key play.

On two occasions, Mitchell made tackles in the backfield and celebrated by slashing his arms.

"Mo makes plays, and he gets excited about it," Zook said. "For a big guy he's athletic. He's getting better and better out there."

In the secondary, where the Gators struggled, freshman cornerback Dee Webb did manage to break up a few passes.

"We gave up some big plays," defensive coordinator Charlie Strong said. "We missed some assignments in the secondary and allowed too many big plays over our heads."

Of course, the Gators were playing without a few keys to the first-team. Daryl Dixon sat out with a bruised thigh and Bobby McCray missed out because of his turf toe.

VICKERS BACK: Despite being held off the roster since the beginning of practice, wide receiver Reggie Vickers stood on the sideline Wednesday in a jersey and shorts.

Zook said after that Vickers has returned to the team after serving a suspension. He won't practice with pads for five more practices.

"He still has a few things to do," Zook said.


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