FOOTBALL: 8/15 Fall Practice In-depth report

The defense woke up their intensity, especially in the back 7. Both practices yesterday were marred with fights after contact started just the day before. In my mind this was a welcome sight as the defense seemed to be giving up too much earlier in the week.

The defense's intensity yesterday seemed to get in the heads of the offensive players and the practice was riddled with more drops than I can remember in a while. Again, I take this as a good sign as our defensive secondary needed to come out and sow a little attitude.

Practice today started in real slow motion as they went through a very slow walk through of the kick off coverage team. They practiced getting in their coverage lanes and hitting different spots on the field all the way down the field. Practice then shifted to a short yardage slow run through as they got warmed up. Then they stretched on the opposite field. Finally they practiced the "swinging gate" and field goals as they have been coming out of stretch. Following the field goal situations the team went to separate position drills.

A few notables I the drills were:

With the injury to Dee Webb, DeShawn Carter moved back up to the second team defense at cornerback. The first team corner backs right now are Reynaldo Hill and Vernell Brown.

The offense lined up in a 2 TE and 2 RB set. When they id that, the defense went to a 4-4 defense and added Todd McCullough to the starting mix and took out Jarvis Herring.

On the far field they went into a blitz scenario run through. They don't move at full speed and are working continuously on assignments on both sides of the ball.

Again they went back to the 2-1 screen blocking between the defensive backs and the wide receivers. Coach Fedora blew up at Cornelius Ingram for throwing the ball late on the screen. He dropped and gave 10 push-ups.

1 on 1

Reynaldo Hill continued his aggressive and very solid play today and forced the ball away from Bubba Caldwell. He didn't fare as well against Dallas Baker, Dallas used his size to out reach Hill for a long pass..

Zep Augustine was beaten by Reggie Lewis. As Lewis turned to make his cut the ball was a little late getting there. The late ball allowed Zep to recover and the whole time in pursuit he was yelling at Lewis. After he batted the ball away, Coach Disch laid into him about needing more than a voice to play defense.

DaWayne Grace had a fine play and a pass breakup on Mike McIntosh. The hilights for McIntosh have slowed down as we start to see more and more of the first and second teams and less of the other groups.

Vernell Brown continues his in your face coverage, although it wasn't good enough for Chad Jackson on a slant route. He came back to the ball and shielded it away from Vernell. Brown came back against Jemalle Cornelius and kept him from finishing his post-corner route.

OJ Small just continues to out hustle the people he faces and the others in the depth chart. He made a great move to get wide open on a deep corner pass.

Pass-skel

Darrel Carpenter was the first tight end out in pass-skel as we are starting to see less and less of Markell Thompson. I am pretty shocked that Markell hasn't been more of a staple at this point. He looked decent in the spring and is physically ready. He spent most of the off-season as Chris Leaks sidekick and I assumed was really picking up the offense. Something gives here and I am betting that he isn't catching on to the offense as much as they would have liked.

Again the pass-skel starts out with a short pass to the back. When I looked up after the catch, both of the deep receivers were covered well. Leak went to his only option.

Todd McCullough took it to the freshman Tate Casey and jarred the ball loose with a solid lick. I would imagine that McCullough will replace Channing Crowder in the starting lineup on opening day. He is a versatile guy that can play any of the three linebacker positions.

Gavin Dickey was continuously holding the ball too long in the pass-skel drill. I am not sure if the receivers were that covered or he just couldn't make up his mind what to do with the ball. If he holds it that long, he will have to use that running ability that we know about often. Justin Midgett looked sharper today. I talked to him for a brief moment and he said his High School back in Punta Gorda has no roof. Charley also blew off part of the roof to his parents house and there was some damage there too. He looked a lot more at ease today, regardless of the damage. He hit walk on wide receiver Bernard Middleton on a bullet 18 yard pass over the middle of the field. Midgett continues to throw the well to receivers running across the field. He came back with another pinpoint accurate pass to Tate Casey on a 15 yard middle dig route.

Vernell has been the star since Friday. He knocked the ball away from Jemalle Cornelius after sticking to him like glue.

Matt Kynes threw a beautiful pass and completion to Mike McIntosh on a 35 yard fade route.

The first look at a 5 wide receiver set included Dallas Baker, OJ Small, Bubba Caldwell, Reggie Lewis, and Jemalle Cornelius. That lineup could put some fear in some defensive backs.

Dane Guthrie was out again with the first unit later in pass-skel. He caught the first pass of Chris Leak in the second half of the drill. Later on he showed good eyes and hands as he turned around on a hitch and the ball nailed him as he pivoted.

Bubba Caldwell made his entrance back in the first unit in the 2nd part of pas-skel as Dallas Baker evidently had an injury to his groin and did not return on the day.

A lapse in coverage allowed an easy swing pass to DeShawn Wynn to score from about 10 yards out of the end-zone.

Kyle Morgan made a very nice catch in the middle of the end zone on a dart from Gavin Dickey. Later on Morgan substituted into the first team to give Caldwell a breather. The injury to Baker will allow Morgan more snaps and the tallest and heaviest receiver with pretty good speed looks like he wants to seize the opportunity.

Special Teams

They practiced more of the kick return teams in the middle of practice. They went full speed but no tackling. The groups of returners in order were, Reggie Lewis and Bubba Caldwell, followed by Jemalle Cornelius and Chad Jackson.

Another sign that Eric Rutledge probably won't red-shirt is his continuous use in the top of the special teams' depth charts. He caught the short sky kick and headed up field on the second kickoff today.

Continuing on the kickoff coverage, they practiced an avoidance drill. I took a few pictures of the drill. In essence the coverage guys are supposed to try to be totally unimpeded by the first wave of blockers and then meet the second blocker, shake him and make the tackle. Six lanes were set up with 2 blockers a returner and the tackler.

Team

They started out Team session today running groups back to back to get more snaps. At some point during this, Coach Zook got fed up with what he was seeing and just had one group go at a time. Coach Zook wasn't very enthused about this practice today. His opening line at practice, "We're going to go live today (full contact), let's get after it!!" seemed to land on some deaf ears.

The first play was a busted assignment deep in the secondary and Bubba Caldwell reels in a 40 yard bomb from Chris Leak. They ran the exact same play later and Bubba had to make a circus catch as Jarvis Herring and Reynaldo Hill draped both sides of him. It was the best catch I have seen Bubba make so far.

Right behind them the 3rd team runs the same play. Justin Midgett threw a bomb on the opposite seam to Mike McIntosh. Tony Joiner happened to be there to bat the ball away.

Leak then connected on a corner pass to Jemalle Cornelius that was well covered by Zep Augustine in the deep zone. Zep slipped and looked silly a few plays later trying to tackle Billy Latsko on a bootleg flat pas. Latsko turned up field when Zep hit the ground and ran for a while.

The defense continues to overmatch the offense to the outside on running plays. Granted they are not tackling right now, but the speed of the front seven on the first and second teams continues to be a problem for tosses and options and other wide runs.

They went to a few short yardage plays a little into the team segment and we saw a bootleg roll out from the I formation. The short pass to Latsko from Leak was wide open.

A couple of more plays and we get another glimpse of the student body left that made its appearance in the spring. It wasn't very effective as the defensive is still running wide very effectively.

Tranell Morant worked his way for a sack as Dickey once again held the ball a little too long. Dickey had a hard time today making quick enough decisions of where to throw to.

Channing Crowder squared up and rode Ciatrick Fason to the turf pretty hard. C-4 was just breaking through the line of scrimmage when Crowder busted in and totally lifted him off the ground and planted him.

The jumbo formation made its way on to the field. Early on Jarvis Moss got C-4 in the backfield. The offense came back after a couple of unsuccessful tries and ran a beautiful bootleg pass to the back of the end zone to Markell Thompson. We saw this play in the spring. From the jumbo set, a whole opened wide over the right tackle and DeShawn Wynn seemed destined to score. Reynaldo Hill came from the middle of the back field and planted Wynn before he could get more than a yard. The defense yelled for Hill who has been labeled a soft player. The next play from the jumbo set resulted in a DeShawn Wynn touchdown up the middle from 3 yards out. The defense stuffed two and another and a play action from the formation didn't work for the second team.

Incidentals………………

Richard Brown was one of two linebackers on the second team defense in the nickel package today. He has been talked about a lot but hasn't made much of a dent so far in the rotation. He may now be making his move.

One thing that may help this move is that Todd McCullough sustained an ankle sprain near the end of the practice period Sunday evening. It doesn't appear to be very serious, but Todd may miss some practice time.

I thought my eyes were deceiving me Saturday night, but Stephen Harris played a little bit of defensive tackle then and again on Sunday night. Harris has been running with the third team and is probably the least quick of all the defensive ends. He would be a quick defensive tackle and possesses the body type that could put on a few more pounds. He came back later to p-lay more defensive end, but with the emergence of Derrick Harvey, this move could make a lot of sense.

Dee Webb missed the end of practice last night and sat out most of the day today with a minor injury. In an interview with Larry Vettel, Coach Disch said he expects Dee back for tomorrow nights practice.

As mentioned in earlier reports, Jarvis Moss has been playing a little linebacker in certain situations. The truth is, the staff has been pleasantly surprised at how well he has taken to the position and may look to make him more of a fixture at the position. Today he worked out exclusively with the linebackers during the individual drill session. He will still play a lot of defensive end and be a pass rush specialist, but look for him to get on the field in other ways. During kickoff drills, he was hit in the throat and puking at mid field. My only thought was, damn he's got to eat another burger now.

There is a rumor from another place going around that 4 players have failed a drug test. Well I am not privy to the test results, but I know for a fact none have been given in a short while due to school being out. Count this rumor as false.

Dane Guthrie and Jeremy Mincey squared off for the third fight in as many practices. Since the pads have come on the intensity has risen dramatically. I kind of like it, but I am glad I'm not on the other end of one of those punches.

Mike Brown worked a lot with the second team at defensive tackle tonight. He may be the tallest and heaviest of the defensive tackles, and he certainly is the youngest. The true freshman has a really quick first step and his size makes him a formidable foe in the trenches,

Muscle Beach is the area of the practice fields where the injured players go to work out on the bikes while recuperating from their injuries. Look for the beach to be packed tomorrow as a good size list of players might be there. Possibilities are Tavares Washington, Michael Hill, Skyler Thornton, Dee Webb, Dallas Baker, Dane Guthrie for various assortments of mostly minor injuries. It looks like Skyler's may the most serious as he is scheduled for an MRI tomorrow. Still, they don't expect him to miss much time.

Jermaine Thomas has decided to leave the football team. Thomas has had a rough start here with the Gators and has decided to move on. We wish him the best in whatever he wants to do.

The team is limited to 105 players in the preseason. With the departure of Thomas, it opens the door for someone else to join two-a-day practices. We are hearing that Darrion Robinson will join the team as soon as tomorrow. Although not sure, we think he is a linebacker and may be a small college transfer. If so, and he played last year, he would have to sit out this year before being able to play.


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