TUESDAY: Scrimmage Report on Defensive Line

The Florida football team scrimmaged for the first time this morning at the wannabe practice facility off of Hull Road. The offensive firepower resembled that of an M-80 thrown during the Battle of Gettysburg. This day, like the others, belonged to the defense.

I focused primarily on line play and the movement of the linebackers. This was a great opportunity to see many of the inexperienced players and the freshman got through the drills without having coaches just a few feet away. In fact, at one point during the scrimmage, Coach Meyer asked the coaches on both sides of the ball to back up and let them feel like big boys.

The first team offensive line consisted of Randy Hand and Lance Butler at the tackle positions, Jim Tartt and Tavares Washington at the guards, and Steve Rissler at center. Starting center Mike Degory had the day off. The coaches are well aware of his skill level and should something happen to Degory, somebody needs tio be ready. Rissler needed more snaps, and got plenty of them. The staff also used fellow guard and Riverview teammate Drew Miller later in the session at center.

The first team defense consisted of Derrick Harvey and Joe Cohen at the defensive end positions, while Steven Harris and Clint McMillan started inside. Cohen played extensively at end today. Ray McDonald and Marcus Thomas did not see action. Thomas spent the early part of warm-ups running with one of the trainers. I figure the coaches are well aware of what they have in Ray Mac.

The first team linebackers were Brandon Siler, Earl Everett, and Brian Crum. The second team backers featured Jon Demps, Eric Rutledge, and Billy Latsko. However, true freshman Darryl Gresham got a lot of reps as well. Todd McCullough is out with a knee injury. Coach Meyer said that it was not serious though.

The second offensive line saw Phil Trautwein and Simon Codrington at tackle, Drew Miller and Ronnie Wilson at guard, and Rissler and Miller splitting time at center.

The second defensive unit saw Mac Pierre and Bryan Royal at the ends, while Lutrell Alford and Javier Estopinian at the inside positions. There were several guys getting looks defensively though. Julian Riley, for example, got a lot of work

The following notes are of the defensive players that I saw hustling. They're not necessarily the guy making the tackle, etc, so take it for what it's worth. There was a pretty decent mix of the run vs pass in the first couple of series.

In the first offensive series pitting the first offense vs the second team defense…Linebacker Billy Latsko came on a blitz practically untouched, which pretty much set the tone for the day…Mac Pierre made a nice move on a stunt rolling back inside and got pressure…Lutrell Alford and Pierre got pressure on Leak as he completed the ball for a short gain…Javier Estopinian got a pretty good rush on big Jim Tartt. Estop didn't record the tackles, but he caused Leak to move a step to his left on the play. Estop's wrestling history helps him tremendously with leverage and he is quick with his hands….Estop and Latsko again got a nice push into the backfield. The offense struggled overall on this first series. The defense seemingly had them confused with their constant movement and the timing between Leak and the receivers was off in part because of the pressure.

The second series saw the second team offense and the first defensive unit go head-to-head. One of the bright spots initially was the tackle by Clint McMillan and Earl Everett . A play or so later saw Meyer and the offensive coaches call every offensive player into a group, where their desire was questioned.

Coaches Yell of the Day: "Someone take control!" -- Coach Mullen hollered when the group was in the huddle.

After the huddle McMillan sprinted with his teammates to the near sideline to get the ballcarrier. I was impressed with McMillan's hustle and his intensity. He reminded me of his middle linebacker days at Oviedo High School…Derrick Harvey and Cohen got over on a pitch play to the left side and assisted on the stop. Nice hustle…Cohen did a great job of shedding the block and assisting on a tackle, which stopped an inside run for basically a one yard gain…Nice tackle by Julian Riley, who helped clog up the middle and bring down the ballcarrier.

At this point it was evident the defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage, especially on run plays. The offense seemingly tried to throw a little more often.

Block of the Day: Dallas Baker cleaning the clock of a defensive back as Chris Leak sprinted some 40 yards for a touchdown untouched. The misdirection play fooled the entire defense. Officials called the play back, for what I have no idea. Great call. Great block.

The first team offensive line began to pick-up their blocks better in pass protection. The only breakdown on the series occurred on a coverage sack by Bryan Royal. Again, the official didn‘t credit Royal with the sack, but had the quarterback had something other than a red jersey, Royal would have planted him.

During this series though…. Harvey makes a nice tackle after getting off a block….Alford really went against Tartt trying to crash the middle. He didn't succeed on this play, but he had some success on the following play as he tried to shoot the gap. Brian Crum was very close to a coverage sack coming off the shoulder of Traut at tackle…Crum tackles Nyan Boateng and as he gets up steps on him….Harvey with another nice tackle.

After the break, linebacker Jon Demps and Alford combine to make the tackle…Demps and Estop team up to tackle Markus Manson for no gain…A beautiful play by Bryan Royal, who got outside and turned the play back inside to this teammates as Manson tried to run wide left…Consecutive rushes by McMillan were impressive. On the first, McMillan and Harvey force Leak out of the pocket and into a run…the other saw McMillan make the tackle on the ballcarrier.

When the first teams' went at it…Cohen and Hand traded licks. Cohen got a hard push on Hand, but not enough to force Leak into making a bad throw…On the second play, Hand turned Cohen as the runner ran to the outside. It was a great block….Eric Rutledge mad a nice stop on the runner for no gain. He had some assistance, but was the player who got the first hit.

When the second teams' took to the field, the offensive line pass protected pretty well and actually opened a few running lanes at times. There were a couple of good tackles by Riley and Royal….Royal sacked Cornelius Ingram, while Riley should have been credited with a sack with assistance from Pierre and Estop.

Red Zone Block of the Day: Tavares Washington's cut on Joe Cohen kept Cohen from getting over and tripping up the back as he ran wide to the left side. He was sprung for considerable yardage.

The offense began to take over. Several defensive linemen looked sluggish, while a few others missed tackles. The defensive players kept yelling, "C'mon Joe, Suck it up Joe" as Cohen grasped for air between plays. Physically, he was gone. He had to fight through it mentally, and I'm sure that was the test.

The play by the defense in the red zone drills was pretty uninspiring. These guys were beat. It's day nine of drills and they were facing the late morning sun and humidity. It was obvious they had no legs under them. The effort was good by the defense overall though.

Joe Cohen and Skyler Thornton had to be helped to the buses with the assistance of trainers. Coach Meyer let the team spend the rest of the day relaxing and getting some fluids in them.

I was impressed overall with the extreme hustle of McMillan and Royal. Jon Demps will play this year. D Harvey had some very good plays. The limited time seeing Steven Harris was good, because he was solid. I thought that Estop and Riley played pretty well. I would like to see Riley against the first team early.

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