Hollywood Bob's Spring Practice Report #13

The crowd at Wednesday's practice was considerably larger than that of Monday, but still it was probably the second smallest of the spring. It was the probably the hottest day, too. The defense dominated with a blitz package that began with the first scrimmage snap and never ended. It was probably the hardest hitting day of spring.

WHAT'S NEW: Practice started early again, the second Wednesday in a row. There was a short scrimmage in scoring situations close to the end zone. I actually missed most of it but heard the first offense went 2-4 and the saw the second offense go 1-1 in one play for a touchdown from about 10 yards out on an option pitch to Jemalle Cornelius from Josh Portis… Gavin Dickey was off of crutches and threw a little. He was the only quarterback throwing in the one-on-one drill. He also threw during pas-skel.

Here is another reason for the pressure. Look at all the defenders that are possiilities for rushing the passer.

In pass-skel, Todd McCullough was out with the first group at strong side linebacker in a three linebacker set. The defense also added a defensive end that would rush the passer sometimes unimpeded or would drop back in coverage… Michael Hill was working with the first team defense at tackle instead of Ray McDonald on the first snap of team drills.

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Two quarterbacks were wearing contact jerseys (Portis and Ingram) and two quarterbacks were wearing non-contact jerseys. (Leak and Dickey)… Chris Leak lined up at receiver for one play in the outside slot position on a three receiver side. Josh Portis was the quarterback… Tate Casey was missing from action.

Chris Leak as he waits for the snap.

THINGS I LIKED: Making the punt formation work, they practiced rolling the punter to one side after the snap… The Inside drill is usually won by the defense; however, there were a few offensive standouts. In this drill, one offensive player and one defensive player line up about 8 yards apart. The offensive player gets the ball and has a 4-5 yard wide gap to try and go the full eight yards. Kyle Morgan made a nice move to get past Jermaine McCollum. Alvin Butler made a nice sure tackle on DeShawn Wynn. Anthony Gay fought through a Todd McCullough tackle. Mike McIntosh lost one early, was harassed by Coach Gonzalez, then won three in a row. Dane Guthrie buried Brian Crum one time. Bubba Caldwell wasted Kyle Jackson on the drill. Wynn wasted McCullough. Dallas Baker got the best of Jermaine McCollum. Brandon Siler got nothing but air trying to get Markus Manson on one rep. McCollum.

Markus Manson is doing a great job of picking up blitzing linebackers and defensive backs. This is something the backs are going to have to be good at because the Gators don't play a tight end on the line or a fullback for added protection…The defense continues to blitz a lot, and with a lot of people. On one particular play, the defense blitzed eight and dropped three, forcing Chris Leak to misfire over Bubba Caldwell's head.

Chad Jackson gets ahead of Jermaine McCollum.

THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE: Quarterback protection wasn't good at all. Nine sacks, three batted balls, and numerous scrambles are not good numbers… Have I mentioned I am not a fan of the punt formation? Again, I know it is not for me to like or dislike but today they practiced rolling the punter out and kicking rugby style from the same formation.

HIGHLIGHTS: Leak through a deep pass complete to Kyle Morgan on the right hash. Deshawn Carter was all over Kyle Morgan on one particular play in pass-skel… Leak threw a misguided ball that was a little short and tipped by Dee Webb. Jemalle Cornelius, who was behind three defenders, grabbed the ball as it bounced up and into his waiting arms for a touchdown… On the first play of the team session, Leak hit Chad Jackson for 25 yards on a corner pass just as he was going out of bounds.

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Jeremy Mincey broke up another pass in coverage. He has shown a knack for doing that. Chris Leak threw a 37-yard deep pass to Chad Jackson with Dee Webb in coverage… Portis showed his jets again as he scooted for 15 yards from a would-be sack. Two plays later he breaks a tackle at the line and runs for 30 yards on another scramble… It was really a defensive show for the most part today. Bubba Caldwell got the reverse handoff from Portis on one play and got about two steps before being mugged by four defenders deep in the backfield… Tony Joiner fought off a block, stretched out a run by Bubba Caldwell on the reverse and made the tackle behind the line. His fellow defenders went nuts… Lance Butler put the smack down on Joe Cohen on one particular play.

PLAYS OF THE DAY: Two hits --- Deshawn Carter nailed Bubba Caldwell over the middle on a long pass that was thrown a little high by Josh Portis. Caldwell hung on, but it was a nice lick from Carter who drew raves from his teammates… Kyle Jackson left Chad Jackson a little fuzzy headed on a hit deep in the middle of the field. Larry Vettel said, "It was a cheap shot and would have been flagged." Chad followed that with two first down completions. On Kyle's hit, Coach Meyer had something to say, and I just don't buy it. He must want to see blood on Saturday. "That's really not that big a hit, Meyer said. "I guess it's been awhile since you've seen a good hit. We'll try to get you one Saturday. That was kind of a bum. You'll see some good hits in the fall. No, that wasn't a great hit. If Chad Jackson's hurt over that then Chad Jackson is in the wrong business. I'm sure the SEC hits harder than that."

Josh Portis as he scrambles around the pocket during a scrimmage.

There was a long time out during the team session and Coach Meyer gave everyone some kind of talk. When they came out, the offense and defense were going crazy. Leak proceeded to bomb away and hit Jackson and Cornelius on back to back long bombs that would have gone for touchdowns.

PLAYERS OF THE DAY: This was tough but I will give it to the defensive front. They harassed the quarterbacks all day and made life miserable for the offense. I counted nine sacks in the team drill and most could be attributed to the front-7.

QUARTERBACK STATS: In pass-skel Leak 10-12, Portis 4-7, Dickey 1-1, Ingram 1-4. In team session Leak 14-25, Portis 6-12, Ingram 2-3.

THINGS HEARD AND SEEN: Coach Meyer on not letting the backups participate in some drills, "The guys that play in games, get reps." … On the eight man blitz cited earlier, Coach Dan Mullen screamed out to Leak, "Lead him, lead him, it's a *&&^^% touchdown!!" … Coach Stan Drayton was a little peeved at Skyler Thornton when he had a chance to run over Vernell Brown an didn't.

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Coach Hevesy had to get onto Steven Rissler today. The second unit center was snapping the ball high all day long… "Wonderful, a breakthrough!!" yelled Coach Chuck Heater after Jermaine McCollum broke up a pass to Chad Jackson. He yelled it three times and was very pleased…. Early in practice Dee Webb had to do a little extra warming up. I'm not sure why as he came back to play the majority of practice.

They finished the day with an extended Circle of Life drill. I would imagine this is the last one until fall and they probably did about 20 or so. Dee Webb got the loudest ovation from his teammates for smoking someone on offense.

FACES IN THE CROWD: Dwayne Thomas, James Bates, Scott Brantley were ex-Gator players in attendance. Josh Portis' mom was in attendance, all the way from California. Lance Butler's dad was down from North Carolina.

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