SPRING: Defense controlled line of scrimmage

Today was much more representative of the expected norm on the Florida Proving Grounds. The defensive front controlled the line of scrimmage to a large degree. The squad was most dominant when Marcus Thomas and Joe Cohen ran with the first unit.

Thomas hasn't seen action in scrimmage situations, but it was immediately evident that despite the lack of PT, he can turn the tide when he enters the lineup. However, it should be noted that left guard Jim Tartt was absent from practice today. Simon Codrington took Tartt's place with the first team.

He first entered when the fronts performed a two-on-two drill. Thomas had little difficulty getting by Codrington and (later) Maurice Hurt.

Also impressive in the drill was Cohen, who got under Hurt and quickly drove him a couple of steps into the backfield. Cohen was also pretty impressive going against right guard Ronnie Wilson.

There were two plays that stood out in the drill. Phil Trautwein secured a pancake on Derrick Harvey and picked up linebacker Ryan Stamper, who was moving toward him. Stamper stumbled on Harvey and was pushed by Traut to the ground.

The other great block was when Jason Watkins fired off of the ball and got his hands on Harvey- driving him backwards. The defensive coaches weren't happy about that set at all. Harvey wasn't completely dominated though. He beat tight end Tate Casey on the first play of the two-on-two session.

Codrington and Hurt were both beaten soundly twice. Codrington was whipped by Thomas (as stated earlier) and was handled by defensive tackle Clint McMillan. Hurt was whipped by Cohen and Thomas. Being a freshman though, who could blame him.

Another freshman, Carl Johnson did a nice job in two match-ups against sophomore walk-on Vernon Shelton. Johnson demonstrated tremendous attitude in the drills. He stayed a little high on those blocks, but kept after him and used his strength and leg drive to wear him down. Johnson has a good punch though and has the intensity that the coaches love.

The coaches then set the ball on the five for some goal line work.

The defense pretty thoroughly dominated this action beating tripling the number of victories over the offense. (Remember, somebody wins on each play)

Thomas sat out this drill. The defense seemingly used the few more stunts and the linebackers were more active than recent practices. The defense set the tone on the first play when Reggie Nelson stepped up and filled the gap as running back DeShawn Wynn found no daylight and tried to cut back. He was stopped cold at the line of scrimmage.

There were a few plays where linebackers Brandon Siler and Brian Crum stepped up and crashed and filled the gaps. However, the play of Cohen, McMillan, Brandon Daniel, Luttrell Alford, Jarvis Moss, Derrick Harvey, Javier Estopinian, and Darryl Gresham was by and large stellar.

Among the offensive linemen, the play of right tackle Drew Miller and left tackle Phil Trautwein were pretty solid overall. A vast majority of the runs were inside. Plays which looked to go wide were cut off inside or sealed off by safeties and/or linebackers.

Jason Watkins had a great block on Daniel during the scrimmage. Watkins has a nasty attitude that should aid him well once he improves on techniques.

The coaches later placed the ball at the ten yard line and forced the offense to make first downs. Thomas re-entered for several reps with the first unit and yet again he made his presence known.

He and Cohen did a nice job against the first team offensive line- minus Tartt. Thomas' best play was when he shot the gap between center Steve Rissler and right guard Ronnie Wilson on the second play and grabbed the ankle of Anthony Gay in the backfield. After he grabbed the ankle he asked the coaches for a sack.

Crum blitzed on the first play of this series and was quickly in the backfield as somebody on the left side missed an assignment.

The first team offensive linemen were much better when the coaches took Thomas and Cohen out and replaced them with McMillan and Daniel. McMillan had a great pressure as he worked over Wilson to get into the backfield and disrupt the play, which forced the back to cut back. Wilson has been pretty solid overall though.

One a play later in the scrimmage, Johnson pancaked Daniel, but was unable to get out on time to cut off the linebacker, which didn't sit well with Coach Hevesy who told him to finish. The pancake was impressive by Johnson who again demonstrated a terrific punch.

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