Spring Scrimmage In-Depth report on Defense

The Florida defensive line is scrimmaging minus two key starters in Ray McDonald and Marcus Thomas. However, plenty of talent remains along the front in the likes of Joe Cohen, Jarvis Moss, and Derrick Harvey. But, facing a rebuilt offensive line has not been soothing on the ego thus far and by golly, things remained much the same today.

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Coach Meyer had them go in goal line scrimmage to start the day. The ball was placed at the three yard line and the referees, who were in need of some spring training work themselves, called the action. As you know, Meyer has a winner and loser in every turn.

Running back DeShawn Wynn ran over Clint McMillan and Harvey for what was ruled a touchdown. That didn't appear to be the case from our vantage point, but it was in the favor of the offense.

One the second possession linebacker Brandon Siler blew up the blocking and wrapped Wynn up in the backfield where Moss was working to turn the play back inside.

Wynn scored on the next two attempts running right on the first play and left on the second, which had to embarrass the defensive front. Earl Everett destroyed a sweep left that really had no chance and the defense actually did a little gang tackling to stuff the left side run attempt for their initial consecutive win.

Defensive end Darryl Gresham, lineman Brandon Daniel, and linebacker Darryon Robinson combined to drop the back for no gain on the following play. However, quarterback Tim Tebow fooled the second team defense and found tight end Tate Casey alone in the back of the endzone for the final score of the goal line session.

The ball was moved back in the red zone. Clint McMillan and Brandon Daniel didn't have much to offer in pass rush, but with the help of the linebackers began to halt the running game. Joe Cohen sat out many of the early plays, probably so that the coaches could get a better look at the pair. Cohen did see a lot of action later in this drill, some with the second team. Jarvis Moss was also in on a lot of plays that helped the first unit.

The second unit consisted of Gresham and Estopinian at end and Luttrell Alford and Vernon Sheldon at tackle. They had their fair share of troubles too. Just as it was with the first group, the pass rush was largely ineffective. Besides, it seemed that when they did Tebow would find his way out and make a play.

The first unit began to finally get some much needed pressure on Leak a little later in the scrimmage. Cohen got around Phil Trautwein. Two plays later Cohen and Reggie Nelson pressured him and the defense had won this series with pressure and a few stunts.

The team moved the ball to midfield for the next scrimmage opportunity. The defensive front continued its' upbeat play. Siler recorded the first sack on Leak. A play later Moss got around Trautwein and put Leak under pressure. The defense led off the session with a victory.

The first team defense went against the second team offense (one of only a couple of times that occurred) and the results were pretty sound defensively. Harvey picked up a sack on Tebow. Moss used a stunt to get pressure on Tebow one play later.

Siler picked up yet another sack on a stunt run over the guard.

When the coaches moved the ball back near the goal line the defense collapsed- losing six consecutive plays. Both units had nothing for their first and second team counterparts.


Their play was just horribly inconsistent. Granted they're missing RayMac and to a large degree Thomas, but the yardage by Wynn and at times, Anthony Gay shouldn't have come this easily. Perhaps most disturbing was their inability to secure a victory in the final six goal line series. They were even fired up for those series. They were just flat beaten. They also had no answers on trick plays run by the offense. The result was their having to do sleds (where one player sits in a sled and is pulled by another player down the field) after a grueling two hours plus on a warm day.

Tackles- I honestly was only impressed with the play of Cohen- and that was at times. He was definitely at the most consistent and hustled play after play of this group. Clint McMillan, who has been very good since the start of practice wasn't as impressive today. Daniel and Shelton (a 6-0, 259 redshirt sophomore transfer from Gainesville P.K. Yonge High School) were largely kept from making plays.

Ends- Moss is clearly the best pass rusher among the defensive linemen. That's no big secret, but the second team ends have to step up. Harvey had some bright moments, but is working toward putting it all together. Gresham is pretty far behind at this point. Estopinian is fairly solid against the run, but he is not counted on to pass rush.

Linebackers- Siler and Everett are obviously proven players. Using Jarvis Moss at middle linebacker with Siler and Everett flanking him is a pretty interesting concept that the gators used against for s brief period. Moss is just so fast. It's difficult for a center or guard to get off of the ball and out on him. Today, Brian Crum ran with both groups at times. He has not been as impressive to me. Second team linebacker Darryon Robinson has been the only second team guy who has been impressive thus far.

Performances like the final six possessions should have earned the defense the opportunity to wash the offensive players vehicles after pulling the sleds.

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