Extra efforts highlights first fall scrimmage

On the first play of the controlled phase of Monday night's scrimmage at The Swamp, Ciatrick Fason took a handoff from Chris Leak, burst through a hole opened by Lance Butler, for five quick yards before running into a host of tacklers from the second unit defense. Rather than go down in a heap, Fason sidestepped one tackler, stuck a shoulder into another and never stopped moving his feet until he was finally wrestled down after gaining four extra yards.

A few minutes later, on a second drive, DeShawn Wynn took a pitchout from Chris Leak, turned the corner on the right side and followed his blocking until he was 15 yards into the secondary. Hit by one tackler, he kept churning his feet and moving forward until two more defenders managed to bring him to the ground after a 20-yard gain.

These two plays highlighted a theme that was repeated throughout the evening. Extra effort was the byword Monday night, and even though there were the typical first scrimmage blunders to go with numerous fine plays, it was the extra effort that was consistent throughout the night. There were plenty of mental errors and some physical, but there was no lack of effort and hustle. If this preseason follows true to form of years past, then fans will see the most improvement of the entire preseason in the days before the second scrimmage. If the extra effort and hustle continues, the improvements should be dramatic.

SCRIMMAGE HIGHLIGHTS:

Chris Leak's first scrimmage was a nice indicator that the hard work of the spring and summer have been paying off. He had nine completions in 13 attempts for 107 yards in the controlled drive and red zone phases. Counting the two minute drill and the situational plays in the second half, he was 13-23 for 142 yards and four touchdowns. He had four passes dropped.

He hooked up with Andre Caldwell for a 35-yard strike down the middle of the field on a nine-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a touchdown on a two-yard pass to Billy Latsko. On that same drive, DeShawn Wynn took a pitchout down the right side behind clearout blocks by Latsko and OJ Small for a 20-yard gain. Jemalle Cornelius took a bubble screen 16 yards to the two to set up the touchdown. In red zone drills, Leak hit Small with a 16-yard touchdown and Latsko with a four-yarder for a score. DeShawn Wynn had an exceptional 10-yard run when he cut back against the grain at the line of scrimmage to set up the second Latsko touchdown.

In the two minute drill, Leak drove the first unit offense 62 yards for a touchdown, completing four of five passes for 35 yards and contributing a first down with a 10-yard scramble. Wynn got the touchdown on an eight yard blast up the middle against a 10-man defense that was hustling to get the final player on the field. Wynn set up the score with a nine-yard run on an option pitch down the right side. For the scrimmage, Wynn had nine carries for 68 yards and a touchdown.

In a second half situational drill, Leak drove the first offense to a touchdown on a three-play 22-yard drive in which Ciatrick Fason carried twice for 11 yards and Caldwell caught an 11-yard pass in the left corner of the north end zone for the score.

Fason broke off a 23-yard run in a situation drill later in the scrimmage. During the controlled drive portion, he had two carries for 11 yards and a pass reception for seven yards. For the evening he had seven carries for 57 yards. He had a fumble in the second half.

Running the second unit offense, Gavin Dickey had some good moments as well as a couple of throws he would like to make over again if he had the chance. In the controlled drives in the first half, he had two completions in six attempts for 18 yards (both nine yarders to Kyle Morgan). Dickey got picked by Dee Webb on an underthrown deep route. Webb made a spectacular 40-yard return.

In the red zone, however, Dickey made two of the best throws he's made since coming to UF, hitting Morgan on a post for an 18-yard touchdown over Reynoldo Hill, who got no help from safety Jarvis Herring on the play. Two plays later, Dickey made an outstanding throw to Chad Jackson for a 15-yard touchdown, an excellent throw to beat good coverage by Vernell Brown. Brown would later come up big with an interception of a Dickey pass in the two minute drills that ended the scrimmage.

During the situational drills, Dickey had two very nice throws, one for 11 yards to Jackson and another for 10 yards to Mike McIntosh. He also threw an interception that freshman safety Kyle Jackson returned for a touchdown. For the evening, Dickey went 7-13 for 76 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Justin Midgett saw only a little bit of action in the scrimmage. His best play of the evening came during the situational drills when he rolled to his left in the end zone then showed nice touch by threading a completion to Jackson that went for 30 yards.

True freshman quarterback Cornelius Ingram had problems picking out receivers but did show serious scrambling ability. He had two runs of better than 10 yards when he simply outran linebackers to the sideline. He completed one pass to Tyler Guettler for 12 yards.

With Skyler Thornton banged up and sidelined, True freshman tailback Markus Manson had more carries than Wynn and Fason combined. Counting controlled drives, red zone and situational drills, he handled the ball 22 times, gained 63 yards and scored a touchdown. He showed very good quickness as well as nice instincts at the goal line.

Among receivers, Small and Cornelius each had four catches for 42 yards. Chad Jackson had three catches for 56 yards, while Caldwell had two for 46. Morgan had three catches for 36 yards and a touchdown. Latsko had three catches for 18 yards and two touchdowns.

On the offensive line, Lance Butler and Jon Colon worked well on the left side. Butler did a nice job getting out in front of Wynn on a sweep. Colon handled things well, although he needs to work on his timing a bit more, not unusual since he missed the spring. Mike Degory had a solid scrimmage at center. Randy Hand looked good on running plays but had some problems handling Tree Morant on a couple of pass plays. Mo Mitchell was at right guard with the first unit, turning in a solid effort on running plays although he stuggled three times with footwork on pass protection. Strong efforts were turned in on the second unit offensive line by guard Steve Rissler, center Billy Griffin and tackle Phil Trautwein.

Defensively, there were some problems with pass coverage although Kyle Jackson, Vernell Brown and Dee Webb all made interceptions. Channing Crowder had an interception called back for pass interference.

Linebackers Crowder, Earl Everett and Travis Harris all had good moments against the run, but none of the three stood out in pass coverage. On the second unit, with Todd McCullough sidelined with an ankle injury, Jarvis Moss started at linebacker along with true freshmen Javier Estopinan and Brandon Siler. Estopinan and Siler both seemed to over-pursue on running plays, leaving holes for cutbacks and both struggled with pass coverage. Siler lost Small in pass coverage and was burned for a touchdown. Moss looked like someone with a lot of speed but needing practice time after only four days of playing linebacker.

In the secondary, Terrence Holmes had a couple of nice plays as did Tony Joiner and Kyle Jackson, but overall, the safeties had problems throughout the night giving deep help to the corners. Joiner got a stinger in his shoulder on a hit on Markell Thompson early on, but he came back to play in the second half. Jackson had a 30-yard touchdown on an interception of Dickey.

Dee Webb had a spectacular 40-yard return of a Dickey interception and overall, his performance was very good. Vernell Brown got burned for a touchdown when Jarvis Herring failed to give him deep support, but Brown did end the scrimmage with an interception. Tremaine McCollum looked good in coverage but got lost a couple of times. Jermaine McCollum had a couple of nice tackles in run support.

On the defensive line, Jeremy Mincey turned in the most consistent performance both rushing the passer and playing the run. Ray McDonald and Markus Thomas had a couple of big plays against the run, but they also were out of position several times. Tree Morant looked good rushing the passer. The second unit defensive line got chewed up for big rushing yardage by the first unit offensive line.

BIGGEST SURPRISES:

BILLY LATSKO: He's added 16 pounds of muscle and has worked hard on his pass receiving skills. He's quick coming out of the backfield and will have to be accounted for by opposing defenses or else he will turn in some decent numbers catching the ball. The added muscle showed in his blocking, too. In the jumbo package, he had a couple of very nice blocks to lead Wynn on sweeps.

KYLE JACKSON: His interception of a Dickey pass and return for a touchdown was the highlight of a solid night. He has good instincts for the ball and is a very sure tackler. He will see the field early and often.


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