SPRING: Day Eight In-Depth Practice Report

Physical practices continue and the minor injuries are stacking up for the Florida Gators football team, although if the team had to play this week I think most of the injured could suit up. The defense seemed to dominate on Monday as the Gators continue their fifteen practice march to get better this spring.

After some individual work, the offense and defense squared off in a goal line drill. On Saturday, the offense dictated the competition and consistently put the ball in the end zone. Today, the defense, with Marcus Thomas in the middle of the fist unit, was having none of that. Mark McLeod has a much more detailed report on this, but here is a short play by play.

  • The offense only won five of about fifteen of the plays. Most were completely stuffed. The five successful offensive plays were:
  • Wynn up the middle but cuts outside where Daryl Gresham got pinched and it was an easy score.
  • Tebow fakes the handoff do a diving Wynn, the entire defense bites and Tebow's rambles around the right side for a score.
  • Billy Latsko surprises the defense twice in a row with runs up the middle for TDs.
  • Wynn starts over right guard Ronnie Wilson, and then cuts back when left guard Simon Codrington clears the side with a counter move. Wynn on the cut goes in untouched. Coach Strong jumped Branden Daniel on the play for not being where he needed to be.

Mark McLeod went into a little more detail on this with his report, posted earlier this evening.

Other particular highlights and lowlights of practice

The defense dominated the practice today, but the offenses ineffectiveness could also be blamed on a very abnormal amount of dropped balls. I saw drops by Ingram, Nelson, Casey, Caldwell, Baker, Tookes, and more. Some of those guys had more than a couple.

It may have been Leak's most off day of the spring today. Continuing on in 7 on 7 drills, Leak had a near interception by the one handed walk on John Curtis, who was double covering a receiver in the left flat. On the next play he recovered with a long ball to Cornelius Ingram on a sweet post of about 20 yards before the cut.

There was a lot of chatter between offense and defense today. These guys are getting antsy hitting the same folks all the time. Brandon Siler and Reggie Nelson are definitely ones to give a mouthful to anyone they feel might get a little upset by it.

Tate Casey made two nice grabs in a row, but both times he was really nailed by defenders right after the catch. He held onto the ball drawing praise for the efforts.

During the full offense vs. defense drills because of dropped balls and excellent work by the defense, Tebow scrambles and passes to Cornelius Ingram seemed to be the only things that were effective.

Walk on Buck linebacker Darryon Robinson dropped a sure interception from Tebow that hit both hands. One of his defensive teammates yelled, "Boy you can't catch."

One of the prettier plays was another 30 yard post pass from Leak to Dallas Baker on the right side. He would have been tackled shortly afterwards though.

My play of the day goes to Reggie Nelson who sprouted wings and got to a screen pass from Leak to DeShawn Wynn. He could have clearly picked it off and gone for seven and not many could have jumped on a ball that nicely.

Markus Manson was out during team drills, although not in a full contact jersey. He looked ok running the ball.

Practice Notables…

The defensive coaches seem to want to play more of a nickel set, even when the offense is in a one back one tight end set. This is still considered a spread offensive set, but it takes Brian Crum off the field and inserts walk on John Curtis as the extra DB. He goes to free safety and Reggie Nelson slides down to nickel back. If he were healthy Kyle Jackson would be in place of Curtis.

It has to be very hard to have continuity on either side of the ball with all of the injuries and people missing reps in practice due to them. Today on offense running back Kestahn Moore, running back Markus Manson, running back Chevon Walker, and offensive guard Jim Tartt all missed all or most of practice.

The defense was without tackle Marcus Thomas, tackle Steven Harris, tackle Joe Cohen, linebacker Jon Demps, safety Kyle Jackson, safety Terrance Holmes, cornerback Avery Atkins (missed some at the end), defensive end Ray McDonald and cornerback Jermaine McCollum for most or all of practice today.

We are definitely seeing the quarterbacks hit more of the slants and crossing patterns. Bubba Caldwell is still one of the biggest beneficiaries, but Cornelius Ingram seems to becoming a weapon of choice for Leak on the mid range crossers and slants.

Tim Tebow has a gun, but will have to learn when it is time to put heat on the ball and when not too. Yes, the receivers are to blame when the ball hits them in the hands, but he needs to help them out when he can by not drilling a hole through them.

Most Improved Players

Halfway through spring, here are my top five most improved players since the end of last season and why…

  • Cornelius Ingram – I think he will be a star. He is just learning a position where he can really be a difference maker and one hell of a problem to defend for opposing teams. He will still have to work on his blocking and catching the ball, but his athletic ability is not surpassed by any tight end in the country at the collegiate level.
  • Chris Leak – The fact that he has taken charge of the "boys" is the most significant happening this spring. Before, we didn't know if an incomplete pass was the fault of the QB or the receiver running the wrong route. Well, Leak isn't afraid to jump his guys if they do the wrong thing on the field. This goes for the linemen too.
  • Reggie Lewis – I think he has just been very solid all spring. He had a rough start when he got moved to the outside from the nickel after Vernell Brown's injury last season. Lewis has been reliable for the defensive coaches this spring.
  • Clint McMillan – He has drawn praise from Coach Meyer and has seen a lot of playing time with the absence of Harris and the others taking breaks. McMillan has a good motor, is quick and very strong, making up for his lack of overall size into the middle of the defense.
  • Drew Miller – He didn't get to play much last season, but he has been the best offensive lineman in camp so far this spring. He puts people on the ground and suffocates most pass rushers.

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