Gators end Gainesville phase of Peach Prep

The Florida Gators completed the Gainesville phase of their preparation for the December 31 Peach Bowl game with the Miami Hurricanes. The Gators got in a Tuesday morning practice before breaking camp for a few days. They will re-assemble in Atlanta on Christmas Day.

The Gators spent their final practice in The Swamp, getting in a few good plays and hard hits before they called it a day. Here are some highlights:

Marcus Thomas did work more today on defense but he and Jonathan Colon both ended the day on the exercise bike nursing injuries.

Earl Everett and Clint McMillan were MIA, but we have learned that there was some incidental reason for both missing the Tuesday practice. Both will be ready to go for the bowl game. In Everett's place, Channing Crowder ran at the Will linebacker spot. In regular packages I think Crowder has been playing the Will when all three of the second team linebackers have been on the field. Crowder looks a little better and seems full speed, maybe just a little bit of a limp when he walks.

The hit of the day came when Zeph Augustine de-cleated Brian Crum to the cheers of the defense.

When the rest of the team was running at the end of practice, the receivers and quarterbacks were throwing deep passes and working on timing.

I noticed Carlton Medder at the end of practice. Although slowed by a knee brace, he looks like e has trimmed down a lot and looks like he may be able to contribute sometime in the future.

Q & A with Coach Strong:

How have the coaching assignments been broken up?

I'm running the defense and Larry (Fedora) is running the offense. Each phase of the kicking game is run by a different coach.

Talk about Fedora's offense…

They do a good job of spreading the field. With a good running game and Ciatrick (Fason), if you put a guy in the box they will pass and take a guy out of the box they will run it. That's how they will hurt you.

The progression of Dee Webb…

Anytime a freshman comes in and everyone was expecting him to be the starter, well, we had some good players in the secondary. Now, once he picked up the system he really stepped up for us and he is just going to get better and better as we go along.

On the defense next year…

We have a chance to be good. What is going to happen is, all the guys on defense have been playing for two years and now it is their third year. Marcus (Thomas), Ray (McDonald), Joe Cohen , Dee Webb, Brandon Siler, Earl Everett, they should be a lot better. From early in the season it is night and day. They have gained more confidence. The excitement is they have gained a lot more experience now. They have played a lot more and have gotten better and better.

Offensive freshmen going to contribute next year…

Markus Manson and (Mike) McIntosh, (Jason) Watkins and (Jim) Tartt, those guys will be able to help us next year.

The offseason…

January to August is critical time. That is when you win close games and is when you get a good deal of your discipline in. That is when the program starts coming together.

Strong's change in duties right now…

There is so much to look at now. At first you just concentrate on the defense, and now you have to worry about a receiver or some other position that you didn't have to worry about.

Channing Crowder's impending decision to stay at UF or not…

I haven't spoken with (Channing) about his decision. I will just leave it up to him. If they want to talk to us they will come and talk to us about it. He hasn't even brought it up himself. I feel like college experience is a great experience and you should always stay in. Ciatrick's situation is a little different because he has a family and is married. I jus think an education is critical and twenty years from now it is important to say I have a college degree. We would like for him to come back, he has only played two years of college football.

On this team, this year…

It's all mental toughness. The way they have handled the situation, they continue to play. We beat Florida State at Tallahassee and that shows you the strength of this football team. This group of guys has been through so much, even if we get down they will be able to pull it back together. They just keep playing.

On practice this week…

The focus is good, they have really worked this week.


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