In "The Ring," wide receiver Andre Caldwell buried Dwayne Grace. Carlton Medder and Jason Watkins looked good in the drill as well. The players gathered around the participants were absolutely maniacal. It was one part cheerleading camp, one part WWF Wrestling, and one part "Fill" Fulmer pulling into Calhoun's for the all you can eat special ten minutes before closing.
The intensity of these practice sessions tops those in the Pell era, and that is not easy to do. One must show up for a Florida scrimmage to get the true sense of what is actually going on here.
Bull in the Ring excercises, new to the Gators, are often very intense and helmets always fly.
The players then broke up into groups before getting together for some one-on-one action, which served as Part II of this rowdy exercise.
There were several good moments during the drill. I'll gloss over a few of the eye openers for you. The excitement for these drills stretched from the chin straps to the stands. Everybody was jacked up. The grins and whoops from fans lining the practice field didn't even begin to rival those of the players on the field.
I was standing next to the legendary "Lizard Man", who said that drill alone was worth the price of admission. CD Gator said that this beat missing the NHRA Gatornationals. Both avid Florida fans and practice regulars said that they had never seen anything like it.
One of the first battles to draw additional whoops and hollers occurred when cornerback Dee Webb bested Andre Caldwell. Webb actually flipped Caldwell over and onto his back. The war between the 3 was encouraging'…Kenneth Tookes and Kyle Jackson battled it out, with Tookes eventually getting the best of Jackson.
Running back DeShawn Wynn actually did a nice job against Brandon Siler in their Oklahoma meeting. Fellow linebacker Todd McCullough did a great job of beating Markus Manson one play later. Linebacker Brian Crum gave the linebackers the rubber match victory when he blasted Skyller Thornton. Thornton was ripped by Coach Drayton earlier in a practice sled drill for not hitting it hard enough.
Coach Meyer with his whistle at the ready. Look at the players watching intensely...
Probably the most exciting match-up was between offensive guard Jim Tartt and 6'1 287 defensive lineman Lutrell Alford mixed it up. Tartt and Alford really got after each other. Tartt got the best of Alford and the coaches lined them back up again. They battled until long and hard until a war broke out between the pair. Again, give Tartt the victory.
Guard Drew Miller then beat defensive tackle Michael Hill. Miller has outstanding leverage and technique. Offensive tackle Jason Watkins then pushed Jarvis Moss around like a baby in a stroller. He drove Moss toward Orange Heights before he turned toward McIntosh.
Linebacker Earl Everett then put Caldwell on his back twice in a row. The first battle went rather quickly, so the coaches lined them up again and Everett eventually took him down again. Tight end Tate Casey did an outstanding job blocking linebacker Eric Rutledge around.
Defensive end MacKenzie Pierre then rallied to beat tight end Markell Thompson. It was a solid battle, but Pierre battled back. Coach Addazio yelled at Pierre to finish it. Wide receiver Dallas Baker then put Dwayne Grace on his back.
One player who did not look good at all in the drill was Jon Marvin. He was flat buried, but I was unable to get the number of truck that leveled him because players were jumping all around in jubilation. Like I said, there is tremendous excitement at practice these days. The 6'3 340 senior is presently still on the Florida roster. He has yet to earn a varsity letter at Florida. I simply can't understand what he is doing on scholarship. It seems that the ship might be better served if given to a walk-on or transient.
See how intense it is with the coaches and players right there in your face. That's Coaches Hevesy and Mattison (left to right).
Lance Butler was out of the state attending his brother Eric's wedding. Butler received permission to be out of town for the past several days, but he opted to stay until the last moment.
The offensive and defensive units worked on the running game on the opposite field. While it wasn't a standout practice session, there were some moments. I thought that Drew Miller, Steve Rissler, and Mike Degory made for a solid interior front. Left tackle Tavares Washington looked pretty good, but inconsistent. Coach Hevesy worked with him after a couple of blocks that the D-End doubled back to work around him. Right tackle Randy Hand is also a solid asset.
One of the more embarrassing moments was watching second team right tackle Phil Trautwein get bullrushed deep by defensive end Derrick Harvey.
Defensive back Deshaun Carter felt like his behind was made of Milkbone during these drills. He was chewed by one of the assistants and was followed up by Coach Meyer, who stayed on him for being out of position. Safety Terrance Holmes was also chastised for being out of position
Meyer started the goal line scrimmage by simply addressing the team with "There's a winner and a loser -- let's get this going…"
Michael Brown and Julian Riley are going after it this time around.
I noted several good blocks by Hand, Rissler, and Degory…the usual suspects. Three guys who I thought took strides during the goal line scrimmage were Drew Miller, Jim Tartt, and Phil Trautwein.
There is no question that Miller is ready to play now. He is going to be awfully hard to keep on the sidelines. Miller blasted Michael Hill on one play as Thornton ran by them.
I noted four outstanding blocks by Tartt, who missed last season to shoulder rehab. Tartt is listed at 6'3 315. He moved pretty well for a big man, and he definitely demonstrated the much needed aggressiveness. Tartt got a great block on Alford as Manson ran through the gap.
I noted three very good blocks by Trautwein as well. He walled off a defensive end in pass protection. Trautwein got after him so, that the play looked like a run blocking assignment.
Make no mistake though, the overall blocking (line play) was inconsistent. It was just not great. It was however, much better than a typical first day in pads under a new staff. The next scrimmage should be eye opening.