Pads On!

The Gator football team put the pads on for the first time this spring, and their head coach got exactly what he was looking for. Urban Meyer said on Friday that he wanted a high-energy practice with lots of talking and that's exactly how Saturday's three-hour workout went.

The day started with Urban Meyer's traditional Circle of Life drill. With the whole team forming a circle on the practice field, two players are dragged in the middle to go one-on-one against each other. Most of the match-ups were fairly uneventful, but two did stand out. Cornerback Jeremy Brown went up against wide receiver Paul Wilson and the two went after each other for quite a while and stretched out the circle. Brown ended up gaining the upper hand after the two eventually needed to be separated with drawn fists.

In the other notable match-up, wide receiver Cade Holliday beat up on cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Again, the circle opened up as the two wrestling players scooted out of the group. Brown may have earned some extra reps as a result of the two battles. Jenkins has been taking most of the third team cornerback reps, but Brown had more chances today.

They latter advanced to the Oklahoma style drills where the offense lines up opposite the defense and like positions go one-on-one. In a couple of the more notable match-ups, Percy Harvin defeated Major Wright, Louis Murphy beat out Wright, Kestahn Moore and Joe Haden fought to a draw, Justin Williams beat out Jamar Hornsby, Torrey Davis and Jim Tartt battled to a draw, Deonte Thompson beat out Janoris Jenkins and Dorian Munroe beat out Justin Williams.

The match-up that gained the most interest from Meyer was between wide receiver Carl Moore and cornerback Jeremy Brown. Moore slammed Brown to the ground, and Meyer shouted to Moore, "Welcome to Florida! Glad you're here!"

With pads on, the offensive and defensive lines were able to go at each other for really the first time of the spring. The most visible difference from last year is the enthusiasm of new defensive line coach Dan McCarney. Both McCarney and former d-line coach Greg Mattison have tons of knowledge and experience, but McCarney is a little more in your face. On several occasions, he went after his defensive linemen for not performing up to par.

The final session of practice involved a goal line scrimmage with a full crew of referees. Both the first and second team offenses and defenses were rotated in and out. John Brown and Lawrence Marsh started inside for the defense, while Jermaine Cunningham and Justin Trattou started at end. Although, McCarney used all of his linemen throughout the scrimmage on both first and second teams. For the offense, the first team line included (from left to right) Carl Johnson, Jim Tartt, Maurkice Pouncey, Michael Pouncey and Jason Watkins. The second team included Marcus Gilbert, John Fairbanks, Corey Hobbs, Jim Barrie and Carl Johnson. Phil Trautwein is sitting out for precautionary reasons.

Overall, the first line looked pretty solid with one exception. Maurkice Pouncey struggled a bit today with the snap to the quarterbacks. But this time last year, Drew Miller was struggling with the snaps as well after moving from guard to center. All in all, I counted four fumbled snaps. It wasn't just the exchange that caused problems. Tebow and Moore fumbled an exchange, and Emmanuel Moody fumbled once as well.

Before they went to fourth down situations, the offense and defense went against each other 15 times. The offense scored seven of the 15 times. Moore was very impressive and consistently picked up extra yards after initial contact. With a first-and-goal from the six, Moore had a powerful run, gaining five yards on the play. It set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Brandon James off the right tackle on the next play. Moore also caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Cameron Newton beating safety John Curtis. He gained five yards on an option pitch from Newton and ran over Joe Haden in a monster collision.

Moody ran well, but it was also obvious that it was his first time running with full contact in more than a year. He also had the disadvantage of running behind the second team offensive line for most of the day and the second team defense was clearly better than the second team offense.

Other notes from the scrimmage:
  • The second team of wide receivers included Justin Williams, David Nelson, Carl Moore, Steven Wilks and Moody.
  • The first team nickel back was Jacques Rickerson. Starting corners were Joe Haden and Wondy Pierre-Louis.
  • The second team defense included John Curtis and Jamar Hornsby at safety, Rickerson and Markihe Anderson at corner with Moses Jenkins coming in on nickel formations. The linebackers had Lorenzo Edwards in the middle, but he took several reps with the first team when Brandon Spikes would take a rest. Weakside backer was John Jones and strongside was Brandon Hicks. The tackles were Troy Epps and Terron Sanders with Carlos Dunlap and Earl Okine at end. Duke Lemmens rotated in and out on both first and second teams.
  • Ahmad Black lined up at safety on several occasions with the second team, and on a safety blitz, he hammered Cam Newton getting the biggest response of the day.

    Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski


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