FOOTBALL: 8/13 Fall Practice Report #1

Things began as they ended today at the Sanders Practice facility with special teams work. The Gators worked extensively with the kickoff return unit from blocking to staying in the proper lanes. In addition, they also engaged in Oklahoma Drills with full pads to give us good insight into the future. Also, get the real inside scoop on Marcus Baker!

Kickoff Return Team

The first unit today consisted of Tony Joiner, Brandon Siler, Zephrin Augustine, Earl Everett, and Cory Bailey. The second line was made up Markell Thompson and Joe Cohen. The third line consisted of Billy Latsko and Skyler Thornton. The return men were Andre Caldwell and Dee Webb. The second return men were Chad Jackson and Reggie Lewis. The third return men were Mike McIntosh and Jemalle Cornelius.

Hawthorne Connection

Cornelius Ingram and Marcus Baker's high school basketball Coach Mike Williams has been at practice the past two days. He told me that Ingram is, as expected, still trying to digest as much of the offense as he can. Ingram struggled quite a bit today. But, there haven't been many true freshman quarterbacks that have looked good on day one in pads. Add an awfully wet ball on that first day for an additional challenge. "I told Cornelius to hang in there, he'll pick it up." Williams said. As for Baker, Williams told me that he thinks he'll end up at Bethune-Cookman.

One-on-One Tackling Drills

Easily the most impressive of these was defensive end Jeremy Mincey's hit on true freshman Michael Brown. The two had just had a turn in which Mincey did not get it done. The coaches weren't especially happy with that set and let them go one more time. Mincey told Brown, "Okay, I'm going to hit ya" and he did.

Mincey launched as soon the ball was snapped and popped Brown so fast and hard that Brown (6'4 288) immediately lunged backwards and fell right on his pride. Mincey then made the tackle. The play drew a collective gasp from the players surrounding them and some of us in the sparse crowd. If Mincey can consistently play with that intensity, he'll have Gators fans harkening to the (good) days of Darren Mickell.

Ray McDonald looked solid on his turns, as did Crowder. Hot Tamale' was a little high on his tackle. Coach Miller had to coax some of the guys to step over and play the role of ball carrier. They were just interested in hitting.

Oklahoma Drill

The Oklahoma drill reared its wonderful head today. God Bless those Gators coaches, who allowed each of us to see these guys go at it, one-on-one.

Randy Hand beat Jeremy Mincey and the ball carrier went by untouched during the first attempt by these studs. Hand also did a real nice job on MacKenzie Pierre, blowing him off the ball and powering him away from the runner. Later, Hand again blasted Pierre as the ball carrier could've walked around the right side with three bags of groceries.

Todd McCullough beat Markell Thompson twice. His best effort was the second time when he flat destroyed Thompson and made the tackle. Dane Guthrie got the best of McCullough later, as the ball carrier went by him.

In the battle of the big boys fighting for the last biscuit, Mo Mitchell held Holcombe on the first attempt. Later, Mitchell got under Holcombe and submarined him. As Holcombe lay on Big Mo, the runner ran away.

Under the "That's no surprise" category Mike Degory outwrestled Ray McDonald twice. 95. Both of these All-SEC performers laid it out there, but Degory took the prize this time.

Channing Crowder beat Lance Butler and secured the tackle on C-4. He later dumped Billy Latsko for a stop on C-4.

Joe Cohen outwrestled Jon Colon on his first attempt. Anthony Guerrero later got under Cohen's pads and moved him to the left side as the ball carrier ran to the right. Cohen won his third battle versus Guerrero. He cut him down and leapt over to make the stop.

Derrick Harvey did a nice job on Jon Colon a few plays later to get a paw on the runner.

Jeremy Mincey dumped a block attempt by Carlton Medder and disposed of the ball carrier quickly. Mincey has tremendous speed and power when he wants to turn it on.

Jarvis Moss by Anthony Guerrero and was able to knock the ball carrier out of bounds. Later, Moss was manhandled by Jason Watkins, who dropped him, rolled him to the left as the runner ran to the right side.

Marcus Thomas and Dowdy locked up knocking each other around. Thomas then shed Dowdy's block, only to have C-4 lower his headgear and drill him dead center and put him on his backside. Later, Thomas locked up with Lance Butler for a even draw.

Todd Bunce got under Michael Hill's pads and threw him to the right side as the ball carrier ran left.

Steve Rissler laid a wonderful block on Clint McMillian allowing the runner to blow past him. Rissler later throttled Richard Brown on a block attempt that easily allowed the runner forward.

Phil Trautwein moved Michael Brown out of the way as the back ran untouched through the zone. Later, Tranell Morant did a nice job of getting off of Traut's block to make the tackle.

Drew Miller just missed the block on Earl Everett, and he was able to make the stop.

Derrick Harvey shed his blocker for a solid tackle on DaJuan Lawrence. I missed the number of the blocker on that one.

Mo Mitchell blasted Brandon Siler back off of the ball so the runner could squeeze by. Had Mo stayed with the block a little longer, it might not have been so close.

Hands Down

There is no question that Randy Hand was the best blocker out there today. Nobody really had anything for the 6'6 305 Ft. Myers native. He was equally sharp during the scrimmage session in pass blocking.

The runner-up was easily Mike Degory. The Pride of Palm Bay battled starting defensive lineman Ray McDonald in a couple of competitive heats and allowed the ball carrier a small lane to escape through each time.

Across the line, Jeremy Mincey showed flashed of his speed and power. Tye coaching staff will now have to get the Statesboro, Georgia native to turn it on each and every play.

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