Cornelius Scores Three TD's In UF Scrimmage

For a guy who's been relatively quiet through the spring, in part due to some nagging injuries, Jemalle Cornelius made his presence felt loud and clear Saturday morning at the University of Florida's final full-scale spring scrimmage before next week's annual Orange and Blue Game. Cornelius, a senior wide receiver from Fort Meade, came up big, scoring three touchdowns, one on a reverse, another on a pass reception and the third on a kickoff return.

The reverse was the first score of the day for the offense. He took a pitch from Chris Leak and turned on the jets to go 11 yards into the end zone untouched. The touchdown pass was a 50-yarder when he broke past the safety on a post pattern and was all alone in the middle of the field. On the kickoff return, he saw a hole on the left side, then exploded through it and past the kick coverage team, racing untouched down the left sideline.

For the day, Cornelius caught seven passes for 118 yards and he carried the ball twice for 22 yards.

It was the second straight day that Cornelius has shown up big. He took a screen pass 80 yards for a touchdown Friday then followed that up with his big day in a full contact scrimmage.

"He had an 80-yarder on a screen yesterday and today had a couple of really good plays so he's doing very well," said Coach Urban Meyer, "and his kick returning looks terrific. He's really coming on."

Cornelius got plenty of chances to show what he could do because Meyer held Dallas Baker out of the scrimmage and Bubba Caldwell has been no-contact all spring. With those two consistent deep threats out, the Gators spent most of the scrimmage throwing shot to medium passes.

Leak completed 12-21 for 150 yards with one interception to go with his one touchdown pass. Freshman Tim Tebow went 15-26 for 145 yards with one interception.

The lack of deep balls thrown by his quarterbacks didn't faze Meyer in the least.

"A lot of the deep passing game [Baker and Caldwell] was standing beside me watching the scrimmage," he said, adding that the Gators aren't going to throw deep just for the sake of throwing the ball deep.

"We are not a launch it down the field offense," he said. "We're a move the ball, move the chains offense. That's what we are. For me to throw a deep pass with someone who can't catch a deep pass or can't beat the corner for a deep pass … we're not going to do that."

The Gators continued to work on implementing an audible system. When Leak was a sophomore, all the audibles came from the sideline. Last year, in the first year of the Meyer system, there were very few audibles but that is going to change this year.

"We're doing more checking off at the line of scrimmage than we've ever done," said Meyer. "Two years ago there was no checking of plays and it was all done on the sideline. The sideline would call the play. "We're trying to get him [Leak] confortable. We want him to change plays and I didn't feel we did a great job of that today."

A continuing bright spot in the passing game was Cornelius Ingram who had five catches for 46 yards including one of the more outstanding plays of the day when he picked a Tebow pass off his shoe-tops without breaking stride.

"As a former receivers coach, a guy running away from a throw going full speed and the ball comes in ankle high that's the hardest catch there is," said Meyer. "We're going to find a way to feature him. Right now he's playing about as good as anybody on offense."

Others who had solid days in the passing game were receivers David Nelson (4-35 including a nice catch and run for a 17 yard gain on a slant) and Kenneth Tookes (3-33 including a 26-yard leaping catch of a Tebow pass along the sideline). Tookes also had two nice running plays on option pitches from Tebow. He finished with 18 yards and had a 10-yard touchdown run.

Tailback Markus Manson had a good effort with 13 carries for 80 yards. He broke what would have been a 50-yard touchdown run but it was whistled down at the 35 so the coaches could work on more of the offense. Manson also caught four passes for 37 yards.

Meyer liked the improvement he's seen in Manson but says his sophomore tailback still has to show he can stay on his feet.

"We expect him to play better than he is now," said Meyer. "That's not a negative but he's very talented but he goes down easily … he did that last year, too. Maybe there's only one Reggie Bush but I would like to have one. The amazing thing is, Markus Manson has some talent but he goes down awful easy. I think that's confidence but he's still young."

Billy Latsko got involved in the running game Saturday, carrying seven times for 23 yards including a 13-yarder. Most of his carries were inside the tackles on short yardage plays but Meyer saw what he was looking for. The plan is to make Latsko an accountable threat as a runner and pass receiver when he's in the game so defenses can't just write him off as a blocker.

Meyer said he's seen enough physically to know that Latsko can do that job but the best contribution the senior from Gainesville is making is in the area of leadership.

"This is a different group than it was last year," said Meyer. "Last year it was bordering on non-functional so they're a functional group now and that's because of Billy. That will solidify that group, I hope."

Tailback DeShawn Wynn had 23 yards on five carries Saturday and Leak carried three times for 20 yards, scoring on a 10-yard run. Because he's wearing the non-contact jersey, Tebow's running is severely limited.

"A big part of his game is the physical element that we're not letting him do," said Meyer.

Asked if he would cut Tebow loose running the ball, Meyer said, "Someday we're going to let him right over in that big stadium over there."

DEFENSIVE HIGHLIGHTS: Derrick Harvey had two sacks and a tackle for loss, a continuing sign that he's ready to have an outstanding fall. Harvey came to UF as a 6-4, 215-pound speed rusher. He still has the speed but now he has a 6-4, 260-pound frame that will allow him to be an every down player on the defensive line.

"We've really been pushing him," said defensive line coach and co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. "I need him to step up. This team needs him to step up and become an every down kind of player."

Harvey's two sacks totaled 10 yards in losses and he had a tackle for loss good for two yards. He was disruptive in passing situations and consistent defending the run. It is the consistency that pleases Mattison the most.

"Last year he was so close but he just couldn't ever seem to get over the hump," said Mattison. "Now he's coming back practice after practice, getting it done and that's showing me he's ready."

Mattison said that when defensive tackles Ray McDonald (ACL rehab), Steven Harris (personal issue) and Marcus Thomas (hernia surgery) are back in the fall, the Gators will have the ability to push the pocket from the inside which will make Harvey and Jarvis Moss that much more effective as speed rushers from the outside.

"We've got a chance to really get after some people in the fall," said Mattison.

BIG HITS BY SILER: Brandon Siler had the two big hits of the day toward the end of the scrimmage. He delivered a crushing blow to Markus Manson on a short yardage play and followed that up with another huge hit on DeShawn Wynn on a shovel pass.

"I've been waiting on them all spring," said Siler, a junior and two-year starter from Orlando. "That's what a linebacker is supposed to do. I want to do that more often."

Meyer said he won't call Siler a great linebacker quite yet, but said that the 6-2, 235-pounder is showing greatness in a lot of areas.

"I won't put the great label on him yet," said Meyer. "He's getting to the point where he's really good but everything else I would put great --- leadership, intangibles, work ethic, the guy you want to represent Florida football."

CORNERBACKS: Although Avery Atkins missed his second straight practice (excused absence with family matter), the Gators got good play from the cornerbacks Saturday. Reggie Lewis continued his solid play and Tremaine McCollum came up with an interception of a Leak pass in the end zone.

Cornerbacks coach Chuck Heater likes what he's seen particularly of Atkins and Lewis.

"They're having a good spring," said Heater. "They're going to be fine and they're getting better. They played last year which helped them springboard into this year. They're going fine."

Atkins got a lot of playing time at the end of the season last year as a true freshman, coming up with an interception in the Florida State game. Lewis had a game-saving interception against Vanderbilt and he also ran a blocked field goal in for a touchdown in Florida's smashing, 34-7 win over FSU.

Heater said the experience that Atkins and Lewis got last year has given them the confidence to play well this spring.

"It's a challenge certainly and you have to have confidence you can cover," said Heater. "You've got to be able to do that. That's why there's never enough of them [good corners that can cover]."

Safety Kyle Jackson had an interception in the end zone of a pass that Tebow overthrew.

SPECIAL TEAMS TOUCHDOWN: The Gators got a touchdown from their special teams at the end of the scrimmage when holder Eric Wilbur took the snap and went in from 10 yards on a fake field goal.

Asked if it was his idea to fake the field goal, Meyer laughed and said, "If it works it was my idea and if it doesn't, I'm going to blame it on Coach (Steve) Addazio."

GOOD SIGNS: Meyer said Friday that he wanted to see his team show up for scrimmage preparation at 7:30 a.m. rested and ready to play some football. He was pleased with what he saw Saturday.

"I wanted to see a bunch of clean eyes, clean souls to come in here and practice hard as they can and that's what happened," he said. "I really enjoyed watching them."

Although there are some concerns about certain positions where there are injuries or a lack of depth, Meyer said overall, he saw what he came to see Saturday.

"I'm going into the locker feeling really good about what I am seeing today and that's a lot of guys who like being out here playing football and who care about each other," he said.


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