The Gators held a two and a half hour scrimmage in the Swamp on Saturday for their second of the spring. The Gators worked on special teams and situations for the offense including coming off the goal line, red zone and short yardage. Here are some observations.
Quarterbacks: Rex Grossman continues to look good in the new scheme. He did have several drops on the day but really excelled in the no huddle offense. In that particular situation he gets to call the play at the line of scrimmage and that may have been the best the offense looked all day. He and the other Quarterbacks worked in the shotgun more than 50% of the practice. Ingle Martin has gotten better and while he is not at his best in the shotgun, his mobility and athleticism have given him the number two job so far. Jeff Creveling made some good throws including one to Antoine Sharpe in the two minute drill to close practice.
Receivers: Overall this was a tough day. There were too many drops from the top guys including Taylor Jacobs, Kelvin Kight and Matt Jackson. Carlos Perez did scrimmage but was obviously not at full speed with the banged up ankle. To their credit the receivers finished strong and OJ Small made a nice catch in the middle of the field as did Jacobs. Vickers continues to move up the depths of the forgotten to challenge for the fourth and fifth spots. Zaunbreaker said after practice he would like to have six that play a lot. Today it would be Jacobs, Perez, Kight, Jackson, Small and Vickers.
Running Backs: Today was not a bad day. They are doing a good job of hanging on to the ball. Ran Carthon continues to emerge as a threat to take some serious playing time away from Earnest Graham. He made a 40 yard plus run in which he was moving away from Keiwan Ratliff. Graham made a nice run off the goal line and caught the ball well and also did a good job in picking up the blitz when he was in. Willie Green ran hard , but had nowhere to run. The good news is that he is staying relatively healthy.
Offensive Line: The first unit did ok. After that it was marginal at best. Mike Degory got better during the practice which is a good sign because he is the only scholarship guy at center. Pass protection was good and running in the red zone was good. These guys seem to get winded on the bubble screens when they are required to run down field and block. Every play after a quick pass was a negative. Dowdy is mobile but lacks a little power with his punch, yet he
is still new to the position. The Second Line really struggled to maintain protection against the blitz. However, Lance Butler did have some nice blocks.
Defensive Line: They dominated early but when the offense ran their hurry up it wore them down a bit. Ian Scott had an interception for a touchdown and several tackles for loss. He is a big time player. Bobby McCray had a sack and a couple of pressures and is really starting to emerge as the playmaker in the front seven with Scott. Nothing really stood out other than these two.
Linebackers: Matt Farrior continues to look good at middle. He closed on several short plays and seems to run quicker than the others. Travis Harris is coming along nicely off the injury and will be right there in the fall. Bam Hardman and Mike Nattiel really did not make as many plays as coach Thompson would like to see. They make the solid plays but he wants more "Big Plays" from this unit. Todd McCollough and Larry Kendrick made several plays with the second team defense from their outside linebacker position.
Overall the scrimmage was won by the defense. The MVP's today were Ian Scott, for defense, and Ran Carthon, for offense. The Offense made some good plays off the goal line and did move the ball in the two minute and no huddle drills. The offense was plagued by dropped passes and poor blitz pickup. This can be corrected. Defensively Coach Thompson would like to create more fumbles and not bend so much .He really stresses three and outs. Overall no major injuries and a very productive practice for Coach Zook. The next scrimmage is Thursday March 28 at 5pm.