In the 7-on-7 passing drills I focused my attention to the slot receivers. One of the biggest complaints about the offense last season was how Chad Jackson was used. He seemed to run a lot of five-yard routes where he stopped and waited for the ball to be delivered. I watched the routes the interior receivers ran on the first 16 plays of the drill on Friday and of the 16, only four were short turn around hooks inside four yards or 25 percent and one of those was a dump-off to the running back.
Last season the Gators rarely connected on big plays in the passing game with the slot receivers, perhaps due to the fact they rarely caught the ball on the move where they could use their speed and momentum to find a seam. Florida's inability to pick up chunks of yardage in the 10-15-20-yard range was a big reason it seemed that the Gators needed 12-20 plays on almost every drive to score.
This spring we're seeing more 5-10-yard slants, 7-10-yard crossing routes and also a number of out routes that hit the receiver in full stride so there is an opportunity to get up the sideline for big yards if he can beat the DB.
I have never been one to question the offense like some critics because I understand that there five routes in a play and sometimes you need to have a dump off. I don't have five sets of eyes to follow every route on every down, and I don't know what Chris Leak is thinking when he is making his decisions for each play. For all I know this 25 percent of the plays is the same percentage as last season. But, I wanted to let you know that it seems different whether it is or not.
The team practiced a lot against the blitz today. They set up with the front seven on defense vs. the seven offensive players that would be facing the blitz, namely everyone but the receivers. Quite often the offense seemed lost because the defense was winning the battles but again, it is so hard to judge without the pads on. This was also a pass rush drill only and the defenders knew it was going to be the quarterback dropping back every time. I think we will get a lot better feel about this tomorrow in the scrimmage and I expect them to really block very well.
My early perception is that the offensive line will be a little less effective pass blocking early on this coming season and more adept at run blocking than last year's version of the line. The best part of the spring is that Jarvis Moss is probably the best defensive end these guys will be going against and Derrick Harvey isn't far behind. Because the O-linemen will get a lot of work against Harvey and Moss, I expect they will handle the competition in games pretty well.
When they went to full team and actually throwing the ball, the first two plays Chris Leak rifled off two beautiful passes. One was a short slant to Dallas Baker, who made the catch and then turned to the outside, going all the way for a score untouched. Two plays later, Jarvis Moss set up Drew Miller by running wide and then cutting underneath with his crazy quickness to sack Leak at break-neck speed.
The defense is also showing wrinkles of a 3-3 or a 3-4 alignment. Jarvis Moss lined up several times two yards back but over the center. When he blitzed up the middle, there was hell to pay for the quarterbacks.
Avery Atkins was out (excused absence) and Tremaine McCollum filled his shoes with Lamont Sheppard moving up to second team. Nick Brooks is playing some corner to add depth to that position but he'll go back to safety when everyone is healthy and the freshmen are here in August. Kyle Jackson was in full pads and working with the second team. It's still Tony Joiner and John Curtis on the first team at safety with Reggie Nelson playing the nickel.
Jonathan Demps participated when there was no contact at all, namely in the 7-on-7 passing drills.
Gator signee Corey Hobbs and Plant High School quarterback prospect Robert Marve were at practice today.