FOOTBALL: 8/15 Evening Fall Practice Report

The practice field had more visitors today than I can remember in recent years. I would estimate the total crowd at about 120 people or so. I don't think many of them left disappointed as the action was hot and heavy tonight. The defense seemed to be really teeing off and inspired all evening.

For openers, they practiced the "swinging gate" on special teams. This is where the offensive line on an extra point attempt lines up to the left of the field. Only the snapper and the holder and kicker are in the middle of the field waiting on the snap of the ball. Most of the time the line "swings" into place when the defense covers them. The object of this move is two-fold. If the defense does not join the line to the left, a quick snap and a pitch over there could result in an easy 2 point conversion. The other reason for doing this is to keep the kick rush from getting set as much as they want to.

The team then went to run through at half speed of full field drives. This took place on the far field and is used to get the teams used to playing field position situations.

From there the team went right to their individual drills. As usual the defense was on the near field and the offense was on the far field. The defense went into an agility circuit, using bags and cones for each of the three position types.

Blitz Period

In the blitz period, the defense runs a blitz on every down. They usually practice against this every practice in the fall. Today as I mentioned earlier, with the defense riled, things moved at a more rapid pace.

Dane Guthrie was the starting tight end for the first play of the blitz period.

The first play during this period was an option. Leak pitched too early and it wasn't very effective. The next play from the line of scrimmage was a play action pas and the receivers were all blanketed. The third play included a bad snap from Mike Degory, Chris got a hand on it and it bounced straight up and back into his hands. He gathered himself enough to make a complete pass to OJ Small, but it probably would have been a sack.

Dee Webb continues his good coverage, but Chris Leak threw the ball perfectly to the outside and Jamelle Cornelius hauled it in.

They were rotating all of the second team defensive tackles tonight. A different group was substituted on the second team unit during every drill. The 2 players out on the second team first were Kenny Parker and Eric Holcombe.

With the blitz coming the offense will have to do more specialized passing. Three step drops, boot passes and roll outs are good counters to the blitz. On one occasion Gavin Dickey made a nice line drive pass on a three step drop and a slant pattern by Chad.Jackson. We saw a glimpse of the speed of Markus Manson as he took a flat pass, gave Brandon Siler a stutter step, and then blasted the jets right on by his fellow freshman. Right now the guys on the 3rd and 4th teams aren't getting a lot of looks, so they have to make their chances count.

On one play Channing Crowder came untouched straight up the middle and Leak was forced to get rid of the ball. The ball was on target, but the quick throw forced by the blitz, allowed Reynaldo Hill to make a break and really should have intercepted and gone the other way.

Bubble Trouble

The wide receiver and defensive backs started a drill with two receivers and one defensive back. The object is for the receiver nearest the defender to block him as he tries to make the tackle on the other receiver catching the ball. Two plays stood out here as Reynaldo Hill destroyed the man in front of him and then took out frustrations on the receiver too. We have been crying for more aggressive play from Reynaldo, we saw it on that one. Another highlight was when OJ Small was the blocking receiver and instead of blocking the defender he juked and went for a bomb. The defenders first responsibility was always the receiver in front of him.

We moved on the bleachers as I got a heads up that the next few sessions of practice were going to be conducted on the far field. Right in cue the team moved to 1 on 1 and 9 on 7 action.

1 on 1

Early on Jemalle continued his stellar play and got deep on a post pattern on an unidentified defender, Jemalle had to make a slight adjustment on the catch but showed his speed in doing so. The success was short lived as a couple of drops later, he was starting to have his worst practice of the week. Not that he was awful, but he certainly has played better every other practice.

Chad Jackson dropped a bomb that hit him in the hands on a pass from Gavin Dickey.

In a common theme Bubba Caldwell dropped a pass. I am sure when Coach Fedora grades the receivers for this practice, he will see more drops than any other one this week. I am wondering if the intensity of the defense got into their psyche.

9 on 7

The 9 on 7 drill is a running game drill that the team usually practices at full speed and full contact. It is called 9 on 7 because the offense trots out there sometimes with 5 offensive linemen, 2 running backs, 1 tight end, and 1 quarterback or 9 vs. the front 7 or so on defense. It was being run at the same time as the 1 on 1 and we had a good vantage point but it was hard to watch both. I know that Jarvis Moss, as small as he may be, continues to be a disruptive force in the backfield because he is just back there so fast. He showed that a couple of times while I was watching the drill. As I mentioned earlier the defense was really active and jawing tonight and they seemed to dominate the running drills in the 9 on 7 situations.


Dane Guthrie continued to appear on the field with the first team early in the drills.

Channing made OJ Small pay for trying to catch the ball short. OJ had no chance as Crowder popped him hard just as the ball reached him. The defense continued to serve notice this evening.

Jamelle continued on his bad streak and dropped another pass. I am not sure I saw Jamelle drop a pass all week before tonight.

Bubba Caldwell had another drop too. It was short and a little behind, but both of his hands were on it and he just lost the grip.

Zep Augustine got a few more reps with the second string defense, especially when they went to the nickel package.

In the "mismatch" moment of the day, Leak threw a little dump pass to Markell Thompson who was crossing underneath. The receiver that cut across picked the linebacker covering Markell and Vernell Brown was the last line of defense and tried to take him head on. That one just isn't going to work very often.

The play of the day (night practice anyway) was a pass from Chris Leak to OJ Small in the second pass-skill drills. OJ was running an out pattern to the far side and in the end zone. Corey Bailey was in coverage, but OJ jumped way over and came down with the touchdown grab.

The next play was as good as it gets also: Leak sees Small again and this time he is open on a corner route in the back corner of the end zone. The ball looks perfectly placed when Vernell Brown came screaming in and knocked the ball away at the last second. Small runs the same corner route to the back of the endzone and makes a great catch but his feet were ever so out of bounds.

Dee Webb came up lame after a collision with Dallas Baker and Terrance Holmes. On the collision Baker had the ball for a split second but it was knocked away in the end. Baker was the meat in the sandwich but Dee was the one that was done playing for the day. After checking later, Webb was ok, and it really worked out for the better as the fireworks would soon be about to begin.

Reynaldo, showing that missing aggression, leveled Jamelle when he wasn't ready for the hit. The spunk shown by the defense today needs to be duplicated on game day.


With Dee Webb out for the remainder of the evening with a slight injury (he shouldn't miss any more time), the first team corners were Vernell Brown and Reynaldo Hill. Previously those two were substituting for each other.

Vernell Brown absolutely played lights out this evening. He actually had a better practice today than Webb did the other day. On the first pass during the team drills, Leak tested Vernell against Dallas Baker. Vernell stayed with him stride for stride and batted the ball away before the catch could be made. He came back on the next play and did the same thing. Leak tried to take advantage of the height mismatch between Baker and Brown to no avail. Vernell was all over Baker. For a third play in a row, Leak decided he was going to go after Vernell. For the third play in a row, the perfectly thrown ball was swatted away by the pesky defensive back. It was maybe the best 3 down display I can remember from a single defensive back, and I have watched Gator practices for 10 years now.

Gavin Dickey finally came in to complete the first pass of team drills, a nice 12 yard out to Bubba Caldwell.

Ciatrick Fason is having a good time out there. It is really noticeable that he is more lean and quick than he has been. He makes cuts that he couldn't make last year.

Dallas finally said enough was enough and kept Vernell from getting to his next pass attempt. The ball was well thrown but Vernell could have made a play. Dallas denied him any chance even with Vernell draped on him.

Leak had a beautiful deep post pass to Cornelius late in the team drill. He followed that with a deep comeback completion to Dallas.

The reverse has not worked well so far in practice. It almost looks as if the defense knows it is coming as they are always in the backfield and on the ball before it can be handed off to the receiver.

Earl Everett had his second interception of the day. The one this morning marked the first big play from Earl that I have seen. He followed that with a gift off of the hands of Dane Guthrie who just coughed the ball up to the speedy linebacker.

2 Minute Drill

The situation is 1:24 left in the game. 1st Down and 10 yards to go, the ball is at the -37 , so 63 yards to get a touchdown. The score is 14-10, so the offense has to score a touchdown to win. They lined up the first string offense vs. The second string defense.

As usual the offense was in a 4 wide receiver set that consisted of Cornelius, Lewis, Small, and Baker. On the first play the defense had Jarvis Moss at a linebacker position and only 3 defensive linemen. Moss flares out and should have intercepted the pass for a defensive touchdown. On second down the pass was low from Leak to Cornelius and the ball fell incomplete. On 3rd down Leak completed a 19 yard pas to OJ Small and he was down at the +44 yard line. On 1st and 10, Leak should have been intercepted by Kyle Jackson who played his half of the deep secondary perfectly. The ball literally went through his hands. On 2nd and 10 , Leak completed a 14 yard pass to Reggie Lewis over the middle complete to the 30 yard line. With 54 seconds still on the clock Leak passed to Small for 7 yards to the 23. Dallas catches the next pass, 1st and 10 at the 15 yard line. 43 seconds left, and OJ Small catches the ball at the 2 yard line. DeShawn Wynn finishes off the drive with a run off of right guard for the touchdown.

The next scenario had the first team defense vs. the second string offense. The score is 10-9 with 57 seconds left. The ball is on the -35 yard line, 65 yards away from the end zone. On first down the defense came with Jarvis Herring on a safety blitz and Gavin had to throw the ball away. 2nd down and 10, and Gavin scrambles out of the pocket. When in the open field, Reynaldo leaves Chad Jackson who he was covering and Gavin alertly throws to him for 15 yards and the first down. From the 50 yard line Dickey completes the pass to Kyle Morgan who was cold cocked by the aforementioned Reynaldo Hill. At the end of the play Marcus Thomas and Skyler Thornton start duking it out. Neither player was very happy with the other. 1st and 10 at the 40 yard line and Dickey threw a long pass incomplete. 16 seconds left and the offense just needs a field goal. The 2nd down pass fell incomplete again. Gavin scrambles out of the pocket on 3rd down and is being chased by Crowder. Not getting anywhere, he slides and gets a time out. With 4th down at the 40 yard line and only 4 seconds left, the only choice is a Hail Mary pass. Gavin throws it up, but it as a low trajectory bomb and right into the hands of a waiting Terrance Holmes.

Had it not been for 2 dropped interceptions, the offense would be 0 for 4 in the 2 minute drill. The defense really played inspired ball today and it was good to see.


As mentioned earlier Anthony Guerrero is probably going to be the guy that moves around on the second team offensive line. He is versatile and has quick feet, he has power but not size. Tonight he played a lot of right guard as Carlton Medder was relegated to less practice time.

Dallas Baker still remains ahead of Bubba Caldwell. As mentioned this morning, Dallas has returned to his spot on the first team and Reggie Lewis has become the 4th receiver in the 4 wide set.

Derrick Harvey has evidently been another one of the freshmen that has impressed the coaching staff. He was playing some on the second tem today and my "sources" tell me the staff is very pleased.

I believe Michael Hill dinged up his shoulder again. I purposely watched the rotation of the backup defensive tackles tonight and Hill was absent all night. By the end of the practice he could be seen working out with Tavares Washington and Julian Riley who are both nursing injuries.

Mo Mitchell stayed with the first team offensive line all night tonight. There was a little bit of musical chairs yesterday, but I believe he played every down on the first team.

As mentioned several times early in the report, this was the receivers' worst practice. They really had the dropsies tonight and I don't think it just a coincidence that the defense was fired up and laying some licks on them. Hopefully the receivers come out with the same intensity tomorrow.

The play of Reynaldo Hill and Vernell Brown was really inspiring. With Dee Webb out, the next two corners on the depth chart teamed up to put on an impressive display of secondary work. There was no one in attendance that came away worried about the top 3 cornerbacks on our roster tonight.

Taureen Charles was also spotted watching the practice from the sidelines for a little while.

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