Tony Joiner played a lot today and started out with the first group when they went to a nickel defense early.
The defensive back 7 in the installation part of practice spent a lot of time on coverage drops, especially with the linebackers and safeties. They also spent a lot of time working on blitzing and bringing the heat from different directions. They had one blitz where seemingly they blitzed 11.
1 0n 1
Jamelle Cornelius ran a nice hitch and Go route, and Dee Webb came out of his shoes for a td. One thing I have noticed is that particular outside receiver manned by Jamelle and Chad Jackson seems to be getting a lot more notice from all of the quarterbacks.
Tremaine McCullom had a few nice coverages in 1 on 1 today.
OJ Small has sponge hands as he absorbs almost everything thrown his way. Chris threw a little low and behind and OJ missed one. Later on he showed more of why he is still with the first unit as he torched Corey Bailey on a deep post that wasn't thrown to him. Then, he used his body to shield Bailey from the ball as Bailey was all over him, he came up with the catch anyway on a 10 yard hook route.
Mike McIntosh continues to look like he will push some of the older guys. Today he had 2-3 plays that drew an ovation from the crowd looking on. He made diving catches and one handed catches. The thing I like best about him is that he really reminds me of Ike Hilliard and the way he runs and plays. He is just ultra smooth and runs with his feet low to the ground and it looks like he is skating. There are only two things that he lacks in this observers opinion. He is a bit light and he has to learn a whole playbook In a short amount of time.
Channing laid a shoulder hit on Billy Latsko from a pass out of the backfield that Latsko had possession of and started up field. On the collision, Channing swiped at the ball and it popped out and right back into Channing's arms. He ran for a touchdown. Coach Locksley took Latsko to the side and lit him up for a while.
Andre (Bubba) Caldwell hasn't shown the extra ability I was expecting from him just yet. He has made some nice catches, but I am looking for that extra juke and ability to make people miss that is being counted on. In particular, he had a nice skinny post that Chris threaded deep in the secondary. The pass was a little low, but catchable and he did. He also lost his footing and went down to the ground. He used his speed to get separation, but when the ball got to him he crumbled to the ground. He has to be one of those guys that gets the ball, makes a move and heads for pay dirt. He also dropped a nice flat throw that hit him in the hands. Then he comes back and makes a beautiful catch between the corner playing press and let him go for the safety who didn't make it over to him in time.
Terrance Holmes, still working with the first group, made a nice interception of a Matt Kynes pass.
One thing that really needs to be utilized more is the back out of the backfield. Once the quarterback goes through his progression, a lot of times the back will have had time to get open out in the flat or running an option route in the middle of the field. On one play in pass-skel, the wide receivers all ran deep routes and when Ciatrick Fason came out of the backfield, there was no defender for days. It is a good sign when Chris and the other quarterbacks start recognizing this is happening. The backs we have are great weapons and can be utilized in many ways.
Tony Joiner has a lot to learn, but he seems to be soaking it all in. He is getting a lot of time with the first string defense when they go to the nickel set, and I look for him to make a very quick impact on this team on special teams and in the secondary. I still; think he is close to big enough and probably physical enough to possibly play linebacker. Time will tell if he can or should make that move. Either way, I think the coaches are very happy with Tony so far in drills.
Again, just like always the team stuff is away from the visitor's vision. The view is far so the running game is difficult to gage and so are the short passes in traffic.
Caldwell made a beautiful grab of a Chris Leak deep corner pattern that was caught near the end line and in the process he wipes out a sideline assistant. A little while later Caldwell ran a post pattern and made a sweet one handed tip of a pass that eventually landed in his arms.
Fason had a nice run around the end on one play I saw from the team drill. One thing I notice is that the defensive speed hasn't allowed that to happen to often in the team drill. There seemed to be a little more pop out there altogether today. This was most likely due to the extra pads.
The two groups came together again to form 1 and they worked exclusively on phases of the special teams again. The first bit was all field goals and took place on the far field. They followed that with a punt block drill where each guy practiced 1 at a time rushing the punter and was coached on the proper place to try and block the ball from the spot they are rushing from. One thing I noticed on the punt block/ return team was that there were 30 players out there participating in the practice portion of that and only about 4 were offensive players.
Of note were all the different players out there today fielding punts. It looks like more than just a select few will get their shot at returning punts for the Gators this year. Vernell Brown, Bubba Caldwell, Gavin Dickey, Mike McIntosh, Chad Jackson, and Marcus Manson were all out there trying to field punts today.
Again, Javier Estopinan was held to a light load of work today. He didn't do much with the drills until they went to Pass-skel.
The offensive group had to do a couple of sets of up-downs early on in the offensive drills. Apparently two balls were dropped in a matter of 3 plays. This time, I think the culprit was shovel passes that were misfired or mis-handled.
1 on 1
Dallas Baker ran the same hitch and go mentioned earlier that Jemalle ran. He burned Vernell, but Justin Midgett under threw the deep pass.
Midgett followed that up with a nice middle crossing route to Kyle Morgan who had a good day out there today. Justin for the most part, looked sharp in the 1 on 1 passing drills. His passes were crisp and on a rope. He seems to have an easier time throwing passes to receivers crossing the field rather than those deep fades and post routes where the receivers are running away from him.
Chad Jackson continues to show his wares and he made a nice adjustment on a deep post pass from Dickey.
Kenneth Tookes ran another hitch and go and made a nice catch of a Dickey post pass. He seemed to be a little bit slow coming out of the hitch and turning up field. The throw was deep and he did make a great effort to run under it.
Gavin also seems better at throwing the low passes. He has trouble hitting the long looping passes to the deep receivers.
It was the same B-Group out in pass-skel first. Javier Estopinan showed up out there on the first play and played during this phase of practice.
Dickey was the first quarterback up in this session and immediately threw it to Chad Jackson on a shallow crossing pattern. This play in particular was probably meant for Chad, but as I mentioned before the quarterbacks as a whole seem to be noticing Chad and Jemalle more from that particular receiver spot. Backing up this point, the next play was complete to Chad for about 9 yards.
Kyle Jackson got his second interception of the early practice season as a tipped ball to Dallas Baker landed in Kyle's hands at the near side line.
Jarvis Herring made a great jump on the ball and got around Reggie Lewis, but the ball was thrown so hard by Dickey that Herring never got a hand on it and the pass was completed. Herring is starting to show up himself.
Zepherine (Zep) Augustine laid out Reggie Lewis on a play that came over the middle of the deep secondary. Reggie hung onto the ball but went down hard. Although he got right up, Coach Zook laid into Zep for being too aggressive when they aren't in full pads and when they aren't prepared for the hitting just yet. Reggie came back later and in a play where he loses his shoe, he made a great sliding catch to the delight of the crowd.
Tookes continues to show his stuff. He made countless catches over the middle of the field and was certainly making sure the coaches noticed when he spiked the ball on several occasions.
Kyle Morgan was part of the play of the day today. In a post-corner route, the safety got twisted around and he was quarantined and hit him in stride for a would-be touch down. Midgett made a great throw on the play as he threw it before Morgan made his final cut.
With Gavin Dickey in the lineup, they ran the option a few times.
Skyler Thornton blazed around the end on a short screen pass and was untouched. As we noted in an earlier report, he looks like he lost some of the weight he gained this past year and looks extremely fast out there. I think there was a time ion the offseason where he may have gained just a little too much, but he really looks good now.
Gavin is much more adept than Justin at pitching the shovel pass. As noted earlier, a few hit the ground in the offensive installation and the group was made to do up-downs.
In the team drills, there are a lot less of the long passes. Of course it is like that with every pass-skel compared to team drill. But, it really looks like the pressure is coming fast and the speed of the defense is enough up front for the tosses and the boot and sprint passes are less effective due to a defender out there harassing or there toi make a play.
Again I thought the pass coverage was pretty good for most of the deep stuff, there were some communication problems that resulted in blown pass zone coverages, but the man coverage looked decent.
Cornelius, McIntosh, and Leak stood out in pass-skel for the Group-A offense, especially the first two. The defense was really keeping the ball in front of them in this group as the completions today were more of the short to mid range variety and the deep guys seemed covered. On defense Crowder and Webb looked good and seemed to be the most aggressive guys on the field.
In Group-B, I thought that Dickey, Midgett, Tookes, and Morgan shined on offense. Skyler where noted above. Herring and Kyle Jackson impressed on defense.