Although all four running backs participated in the scrimmage, none were well enough to get beat on during the full contact team period. Other injuries include, wide receiver Reggie Lewis who was held out of practice altogether and is still being treated for being exhausted at practice today. Tight end Dane Guthrie was still out and Darrell Carpenter will be out 4-5 weeks. Both top left tackles were held out of contact still, although both are expected back shortly. Mo Mitchell, starting right guard did not participate in contact.
Defensively the Gators are a little bit healthier, although linebacker Richard Brown will be out for the year. Linebacker Todd McCullough didn't participate in contact but is expected back soon. Linebacker Earl Everett missed most of the early part of drills, but cam back to start the team portion and contact period at the end of practice. Word is he was sick earlier in the day. Jarvis Moss, just moved to linebacker, has a slight knee injury and was held out of contact. The only defensive back that I noticed not participating was Tony Joiner , who came off the practice field to the trainers area during position drills.
Other than that, the Gators are healthy.
The blitz period was highlighted by a few plays.
Gavin Dickey can do some damage on the option. He ran the option against a blitz that he knew was coming and made it look easy.
Mike McIntosh still continues to impress. He has a knack for getting open and really just swallows the ball when it comes to him. He made a nice grab on a 16 yard quick out pass, with good coverage. Soon afterward, McIntosh had one deep and the throw was there, but Kyle Jackson came from behind and laid a smack on him causing the ball to bounce out.
The running back over the top pass was the best run play tonight by the offense. It looked just like the two touchdown passes against LSU. DeShawn faked pass blocking and took off toward the opposite end zone. The defense in an all out blitz had no one to cover him and there was nothing left but catching the ball and not tripping on himself.
1 on 1
They did more of the 2 on 1 stuff where the inside receiver blocks the defensive back and the defensive back is supposed to still make the tackle. There isn't much to report here, but the defensive backs are getting a little more comfortable defending against it. They still get beat sometimes, as the offensive guys are improving also, but they are making the offensive guys work for it.
The 1 on 1 drill wasn't pretty for the defensive backs today. The offensive guys were running hitch and goes and skinny posts with nice cuts and with the defensive backs playing way up on the wide receivers, it was hard with no help from a safety to play the receiver and the whole open field behind them. S I have said before, this drill is definitely to the advantage of the wide receivers. The dominance of the wide receivers wouldn't last long after the 1 on 1 though.
Pass-skel was a whole different ball game for the defensive guys. They really made it tough tonight for the offense to complete much of anything and especially anything deep. Time after time, Leak and the other quarterbacks had to settle for underneath routes, throw out of bounds, or the passes were defended all together. In past Pass-skels I have listed a lot of plays of deep corners and log posts and middle in routes of 16-20 yard that were open and complete. Not tonight. The defenses played together and the zones were covered throughout.
Dee Webb had a nice break up of an early pass, an out route where he broke hard and the receiver had no chance.
Kyle Morgan did have to make a great grab of a Dickey dart at the sideline. The 15 yard pass was hauled in with one hand as it seemed that it was thrown so hard it stuck to his hand.
In the Red Zone the offense did score on the first play. Leak came back later and had to wait for a receiver to get open and ended up overthrowing him.
Brandon Siler, subbing for the ill Earl Everett, had an interception fall right from the grasp of both hands. He had open field in front of him. Still it was a nice play and good defensive zone spacing by the true freshman.
Skyler Thornton did have a nice grab in traffic on a quick slant route. It was good to see him running fairly well, when he did participate. He had people all around him on the grab, but pulled it in for the red zone score.
Leak threw a patented corner pass to OJ Small for a TD. It was very reminiscent of the one that OJ laid out for against Ole Miss. The next play, he tried again, but the coverage was there, the defender knocked OJ off his track and the ball sailed over his head.
I scanned the whole field on the next play with the 2's. On the play Dickey rolled out to his right, but every receiver was covered solid, he forced it in to Chad Jackson, but Matt Neddeff was there to knock the ball away. On the next play, the same thing, every receiver was covered and Dickey forced a bad throw behind the receiver that hit the turf.
DeShawn Wynn started out as the 1st running back in the team drill. It was thud, where no one was supposed to hit the ground. The defense continued to buckle down and not allow anything long in the early stages.
Ciatrick Fason got in there for a play or two. H made a nice cutback on a run play, but you could se that his knee is bothering him.
Even the short passes and the screens weren't working today as a flare pass early went for nothing and a screen pass lost a yard.
Kenneth Tookes had the longest pass play of the team drill when Dickey connected with him on a dp corner route between the safety and corner in a zone.
Earl Everett did make his appearance finally as he hd been sick earlier.
As I mentioned earlier, the team is really banged up and it was none more apparent than seeing Billy Latsko playing tailback in short yardage formations. With Eric Rutledge lining up at Fullback and newly transitioned fullback Alik Scott the 2nd fullback, it was an odd combination of personnel to say the least. And this was the first team.
Skyler Thornton had a nice cutback on a draw play that would have gone for a few more yards than needed in the short yardage situation.
The hit of the night was on a backside block. Tate Casey introduced Javier Estopinan to Texas as he laid him out. The block got a ton of cheers by the offensive players that were struggling most of this drill with the dinged up running backs.
Latsko did make a nice cutback on one play and the hole opened like the red sea. Had he good wheels, it was touchdown city. Later on after a multitude of plays he had to run with the 2nd tram offense. The first play against the 1st team offense and Channing Crowder stuffed him at the line.
Stephen Harris broke through the line untouched one time and hit Latsko four yards back from the line of scrimmage. Trautwein evidently forgot to block Harris.
Even though they were I the offenses face, the bootlegs were not working wither tonight. They continually stopped all the misdirection stuff the offense good send at them. Later on a similar play, Leak had to throw it away as Kyle Jackson wasn't giving Eric Rutledge a chance to make the flair route happen.
Down by the goal line the defense benefited from Latsko being the ball carrier on the first play. He had a hole but it closed quicker than he could run and the defense tackled him short of the line.
Bryan Royal got in on the action against the first offense. He came from the side on a blitz and leveled Latsko in the backfield.
Skyler Thornton finally got in running wide and outracing the defense to the end zone.
2 Minute Drill
1st team offense vs 2nd team defense.
1:34 on the clock, 14-10 is the score, the ball is marked at the 39 yard line, 62 yards from a touchdown.
Unlike this morning which was one short pass after another, Chris Leak went deep on the first play. Chris throws a deep Go route to Dallas Baker just a tad deep. Kyle Jackson was right there and may have leveled Baker if he made the catch.
2-10 at the 38 and a short pass for 7 yards and out of bounds.
3-3 at the 45 and on the outside Kenneth Tookes catches the ball and skates up the sideline to the opposite 44 yard line. It was a gain of 16 yards. Out of bounds, clock stops.
1-10 at the 44, 1:10 left on the clock, Tookes for a short hitch in the middle of the field for 5 yards, clock still running
2-5 at the 39, the defense covers everyone well and Leak had to throw the ball out of bounds.
3-5 at the 39, Bubba Caldwell for a 6 yard out route.
1-10 at the 33, 42 seconds to go on the clock, Randy Hand jumped , 5 yard penalty
2-1 at the 24 yard line, short pass incomplete to the sideline.
3-1, Tookes on a short drag route to the 14 and a 10 yard gain. Theis drive is taking a real 10 minutes, and only 1 on the clock.
1-10 at the 14, C-4 takes a screen and cuts inside, he complains loudly that he scored, to no avail; the ball is spotted at the 3.
1-3 at the 3, 13 seconds left, the snap hot Chris Leak in the helmet as he was looking elsewhere the bal hits the ground, and Eric Holcombe jumps on the ball.
1st team defense vs 2nd team offense
1:01 on the clock, 14-10 is the score, the ball is 46 yards from pay dirt.
1-10, Dee Webb baited Gavin to throw it and should have picked off the pass in front of mike McIntosh. Incomplete pass.
2-10, Pass to Newmeyer for 4 yards to the 40
3-6, Chad Jackson split the safety and corner on the far side. Dickey threw the ball right where it needed to go in the zone coverage, Give him 21 yards to the 19, He could have gone much farther but was ruled out after the catch.
1-10 at the 19, Markus Manson runs for 1
2-9 at the 18, Dickey was sacked by Mincey who could have killed him. Loss of 6
3-15 at the 23, The defense decides to bring it and Corey Bailey and Channing Crowder combine to sack Dickey and ends the 2 minute session.
It was a wonder that they hit at all today with all of the injuries. I believe they came out these tackling drills tonight with no new injuries.
It was a good night for the defense tonight. They really played tough all night. The offense, hampered by the lack of a tailback threat tonight won a handful of plays, but the defense gets the overall nod tonight.
I like the aggressiveness the team showed tonight. They were hooting and hollering from the get go and despite all of the awareness of injuries, everyone seemed to playing extremely hard. Coach Zook commented that he really liked the previous two practices and I don't think he can be disappointed in this one either.
A couple of offensive pass routes seem to be challenging the defense. The deep corner routes and go routes are being hit in between the safety and corner in our cover 2 package. I saw Hot Tamale break on one today and make the pick, but the best I have seen so far is Kyle Jackson. He seems to have a nose for the ball and a keen sense of taking the right angle to the ball.
I was pretty amazed to see Skyler Thornton out there running reasonably well tonight. Just 2 days after being on crutches, he looked really close to full speed out there. The marvels of the training room never cease to amaze me anymore.
Although Mike Mangold wasn't out there tonight, he should have been. Zook was upset about it and wants to make sure he is out there soon.