THINGS I LIKED: Nick Fleming and Eric Wilbur were booming punts at the beginning of practice...Despite the weather, there were still between 60 and 80 people on the sidelines watching practice…Reggie Lewis continues to show he has serious speed keeping up with the fastest receivers on the squad. Coach Meyer says that Reggie is "among the top three cornerbacks." …Bubba Caldwell had his best day of practice yet. He made several tough catches that he just wasn't making leading up to today. He did drop one easy one. At one point he was on a knee right next to Coach Meyer, smiling while he was talking to him. It was a much better day today than it has been…They continue to spend a lot of time with the kick coverage and return units. It should make for good special teams during scrimmages and the Orange and Blue game. Coach (Steve) Addazio is my favorite to watch during special teams and especially during the kick return drills. He is all over the place. Coach Holliday was also especially animated today during the kick return drills.
THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE: The weather again, although it actually sprinkled very little while we were out there. This was a great time for a practice facility (hint, hint). The grass took a beating during warm-ups…Too many short passes in the pass-skel drills. I would say 70% are inside seven yards or so right now…Two bad snaps to start the team session of practice brought the ire of (Coach John) Hevesy on Mike Degory.
HIGHLIGHTS: Dallas Baker burnt Dee Webb on a pass from Leak and a go route about 35 yards down the field…Portis threw another beautiful bomb to Chad Jackson for 35 yards during the pass-skel drill…All the quarterbacks have had high completion percentages, seemingly mainly for all the short passes they have completed. Still, the numbers aren't too bad.
In Pass-skel drills, the numbers went:
Leak 13-15 Portis 3-7 Dickey 4-7 Ingram 3-4
In the team session:
Leak 6-10 Ports 10-12 Ingram 4-4
LOWLIGHTS: Where have you gone Markell Thompson? Although he is getting a few reps, he is almost unseen out there on the field during pass-skel and team drills. The times I have seen him he drops the ball or is scolded for wrong routes. His first play in pass-skel was play number 23.
PLAY OF THE DAY: Cornelius Ingram went 4-4 in the team session including a 35 yard pass to walk-on Cam Brewer. Brewer was racing down the right sideline when he laid out his body to catch the ball and the crowd erupted on the sideline. I have to admit, it was the first time I have seen Brewer's name.
Dallas Baker goes up high for the ball with Dewayne Grace defending.
PLAYER OF THE DAY: I'm going with Dallas Baker. The seemingly quicker and more elusive Baker was able to get deep on defensive backs all day long. He had another great day earlier in the spring and he really seems to have turned it on right now. "Before [Meyer] strength and conditioning was about getting stronger so we could stay injury free," said Baker. "Now it was about getting faster. In this offense, you have to have the speed."
THINGS HEARD AND SEEN: A group of players from Charlton County, Georgia were on hand at practice…Casey Griffith was in attendance and swears he will finish with his stories that he wants to share with Gator fans. Casey's dad was very impressed with the letter Coach Meyer sent to him. The letter included a hand written note directed straight at his father hoping to see he and Casey out at practice…Evidently Mike Degory's battle with mono in the offseason was so severe that he lost 30 pounds and was down to 280 pounds at one time…Jim Tartt's father as well as Chris Leak's father and brother C.J. were in attendance today…Meyer got onto Portis to throw the ball earlier on a long post pattern to Baker that was still complete…Kickoff return specialists are: Jackson, and Cornelius, Caldwell and Tremaine McCullom, Manson and Baker…By the end of practice, the top two groups of receivers and skill players were very tired from all of the work they are doing on the field…Meyer wasn't happy with the motivation of the second unit and made them re-huddle and head quick to the line. That ended after one scolding…Terry and Willie Jackson were also in the crowd tonight.
I caught up with Coach (Charlie) Strong after practice and asked about the linebackers that weren't on the field quite as much right now.
According to Coach Strong, McCullough has been the surprise so far..
On Todd McCullough….
Todd is practicing good. So far he has been the surprise of all the backers. The main thing with him is to stay healthy and he has been able to do that. He has such a knowledge of what's going on and he is able to make plays.
On Eric Rutledge….
The main thing about him is he is learning the position. He has to continue to learn the position, once he does that he will be able to help us.
On Billy Latsko…
I would say the same thing about Billy, once he learns he will be a contributor.
On Brian Crum…
Crum moved back from tight end. The thing is he has so much athletic ability. We need him to help us.
On playing so much nickel defense right now…
We are forced to play nickel because we have to match up with this offense. A regular )pro personnel team), we would be playing with three linebackers. There is just so much substitution that we have to stay in our nickel.