In defensive drills, Jarvis Moss started out wandering over to the defensive ends and Coach Strong sent him to work with the linebackers. He stayed with the linebackers working drills. With him playing linebacker a lot now, that leaves 6 defensive ends. Jeremy Mincey, Joe Cohen, Tranell Morant, Stephen Harris, MacKenzie Pierre, and Derrick Harvey. This is yet another sign that Derrick Harvey probably won't red-shirt this year. I still think Moss slides in as a pass rushing specialist in long yardage situations.
They started off special teams working on the front line guys getting back and setting for kick returns. On the other half of the field, so that there is no dead time for anyone, the back 6 guys on kick returns practiced setting to their spots.
Reggie Lewis and Bubba Caldwell were the first two out there to return kicks. I think Caldwell will be one of the starting returners and the other may be Webb when he gets back to full health.
They then worked on an avoidance drill by the kickoff coverage team. 5 lanes across the field are set up and the kickoff coverage guys have to try and avoid the first line protector, then run down and fend off the back line protector and make the tackle. One noticeable thing on the kickoff coverage unit is all the defensive players on it. The only offensive player I saw on the first unit was ex-linebacker Brian Crum.
They finally went to real kickoffs, but still not full speed as they weren't in pads. It looked like the opening kickoff may have been able to go the distance as Caldwell started up the middle, hit a crease and busted it outside.
Jarvis Moss was on the first kickoff return team and the second kick coverage team. So when they went from first to second team he was the only one on the field that didn't come off.
The punting competition is still tight. Nick Fleming was the first punter today and nailed a high booming punt 55 yards in the air. Wilbur came back with a 40 yarder the first time and a 50 yarder the next. Today I would say Wilbur was a little more consistent.
Derrion Robinson made an appearance out there for the first time today. He was working out with the linebackers and wearing Jermaine Thomas' #33. Coach Zook had no comment and hasn't heard from Jermaine Thomas today. Thanks to one of our many Insiders (and this is a great reason why you should be a member so you can access the secret BullGator Den where many well connected "Insiders" prowl), they passed on to me that Robinson was a small college All- American linebacker last year and was promised a walk-on spot with the Gators. If true, like we said last night, he would have to sit out this year because of the transfer. He has started his 4 day acclimation period today. Just like everyone else on the squad, he has to have a 5 day acclimation period. That means he can only practice once a day and can't have contact until after the fifth day.
The 2nd and 3rd team offensive lines have been a puzzle that Coach Wickline is trying to piece together. While it looks as though the first unit will consist of Jonathan Colon, Lance Butler, Mike Degory, Mo Mitchell, and Randy Hand. The next units are a work in progress. Carlton Medder worked a lot at left tackle today. Drew Miller seems fixed as a left guard. Steven Rissler played a lot of center today, he has been working at right guard most of the fall and was on the first team last week.
Markus Manson looks to have an open door to playing time with Skyler Thornton on crutches. Coach Zook said he didn't believe Thornton's injury was serious, but they aren't quite sure. If he is out for an extended time, look for Markus Manson to get a lot of reps in the opening two games. Time will tell on this one.
I made a note of Bubba Caldwell making a couple of good grabs yesterday. Coach Zook says that "Bubba may have had his best practice yesterday." That is encouraging news as he works to get back into the starting lineup.
Coach Zook must be happy with Earl Everett's play. He told a group of reporters, "I asked Earl yesterday if it was a lot easier this year, he said 'Coach it's so much easier, it's not even close.' I said, I told you it would be. In your first year things move so fast and we move fast anyway."
Coach Zook also said, "Gavin and Vernell are probably our first two punt returners right now because they want to do it and that's about 90% of the battle."
Right now it looks as if most of the freshman class of 2004 will see the field this year. If I had to guess I would say that the following players will see significant playing time:
RB- Markus Manson
FB- Eric Rutledge
OL-Jason Watkins, Drew Miller, Phil Trautwein
DL-Derrick Harvey, Mike Brown, Brandon Daniel
LB-Javier Estopinan, Brandon Siler
DB-Dawayne Grace, Tony Joiner, and Kyle Jackson
The few that in my opinion will redshirt are:
Mike Mangold if he gets his waiver would probably red-shirt unless he switches to linebacker upon his arrival.
That's all for now, there is a scrimmage in the Swamp at 6:30 this evening and we'll have our usual great reports for you from that this evening.