Spring Practice Report - Day 3

It was a pretty rough day for the offense and they were running gassers at the end of practice because of it. From the start to finish of practice the defense seemed to have the upper hand. There were a few highlights on offense, but this defense has something even more to prove in 2009 and they started their first day of pads this spring with an edge. Here are my thoughts.

The one-on-one grappling drill is always the first thing that gets the crowd going when the pads come on. Oh, they have the "circle of life" before that and it is basically the same thing, but the crowd can see the one-on-one's first hand.

For the most part what we saw was the older guys get the upper hand. However there were a few instances where some very young guys stepped up and made something happen on the day and that is kind of what this spring is all about.

In the one-on-one's, think of it as a sumo match in pads. Jonotthan Harrison got the best of Omar Hunter twice. Jon Bostic turned over his fellow early enrollee Desmond Parks and planted his hind end in the dirt.

In a mammoth battle, defensive tackle Jaye Howard and James Wilson got after it hard and to a lot of people's surprise, Howard won the hard fought battle. My discussions with team sources indicate that Wilson is one of, if not, the most powerful lineman on offense. For Howard to back him up considerably means a lot in this man's eyes.

Dustin Doe is nothing like last year and is exceptional at this drill unlike last season. He unseated two running backs he faced on the day.

T.J. Pridemore and Jon Bostic got into a heated battle and Pridemore's helmet flew off.

When the offense met the defense, they tried short yardage plays. The defense was basically unyielding except for one really magnificent run by Emmanuel Moody off the right side where he broke several tackles for about 12-15 yards and the chorus of cheers rang out from the crowd. The other noticeable play was a play action pass from under center where John Brantley hit walk-on Vince Brown for about a 20-yard over the shoulder pass that was wide open.

The team also ran some short yardage run plays near the goal line and Moody had another crowd pleasing run for a score this time. Moody started left on a sweep when he read his blockers beautifully and about 10 yards from the sideline he planted his foot and went directly to the end zone. The flow of the linebackers took them all out of the play and was as good a cut as we have seen from Moody as a Gator. Dee Finley had a great run down of Moody and you can see in the highlight film, he rubbed off of a blocker to make the play.

For the most part, the run game was stuffed near the goal line.

When the team's met near the goal line again for "fourth down and have to score" drills it seemed the offense would star from the beginning of this particular drill. On the very first play, Carl Moore ran a 12-yard slant and caught a bullet from Tim Tebow at the goal line for a touchdown. It was a beautiful play that only seemed to fire up the defense. It took another 12 plays or more for the offense to score again.

Aaron Hernandez was the star of the practice on offense in the passing game with three touchdown catches near the goal line in this drill. Fellow tight end Desmond Parks also caught one and David Nelson another. But with about 30 plays inside the 15-yard line, that was all the scoring the offense could muster.

Interceptions from Ahmad Black (he did interfere on Hernandez on the play), and beautiful read and react pick from Will Hill were the highlights of the defense that batted so many balls down we couldn't count. Adrian Bushell also had another interception in this particular drill and has continued to play very well in the first three practices of spring.

So far this spring, the secondary has really stood out, just like it did last season. Urban Meyer complained today that he wants to see more form guys that he didn't get much from last season, but Adrian Bushell and Dee Finley are showing us early this spring and making a name for themselves. Even Moses Jenkins has done some good things and he was absolutely nowhere at this time last year.

At linebacker, they continue to play great pass defense all around. Spikes, Doe, Stamper and A.J. Jones have played well and it is to be expected. However, John Jones has been the surprise so far this spring at linebacker, at least in terms of the number of plays I have seen him involved in. He also did well in the one-on-one's against his opponent earlier in practice. Bostic is just a pup, but he can really fly to the ball when he gets a bead on it.

I haven't seen much out of Lerentee McCray and that is surprising to me. I will have to keep a better eye on him as we move forward.

Up front Jaye Howard has become an instant force and will wreak havoc this fall. Duke Lemmens put on a great deal of muscle in his upper body and made the young linemen look silly today. Omar Hunter is a playmaker inside and once he gets in great shape (he is getting there), he is going to be something else. He has a huge burst for a big man, something that most of the others do not have.

William Green was impressive going against 290-pound Nick Alajajian in the one-on-one's. We all know Green is fast but he also displayed power and it isn't a knock on Alajajian in my book.

On the offensive line, Jonotthan Harrison is the one that seems to have the attitude. Addazio jumped him for getting beat a couple of times on Saturday, but when Harrison gets his mitts on you, the game is over.

Marcus Gilbert has found his home. When he and Carl Johnson were at tackle, nobody got by them unless there was a mistake made among the linemen. Much maligned a year ago, Gilbert was really out of position playing guard in 2008.

Desmond Parks is coming along. He isn't scared, even with the pads on. I like his attitude and we will just have to see how much he can gain and learn moving forward.

From the looks of spring so far, I would say Carl Moore and Aaron Hernandez will be Tebow's favorite targets in the fall.

At receiver, Frankie Hammond and Deonte Thompson are the two playmaker types that need to get the ball in open space. Hammond is already in the top five rotation in my mind. Hammond has exceptional hands and made a seriously nice grab on the sideline on a deep ball from Tebow.

T.J. Lawrence also does some good things and seems to always be open and catch the corner route, some 20 yards down the field. He caught another one on Saturday.

I want to see more from Justin Williams, I know he has the athletic ability to play well in the SEC. We also haven't seen much at all from Paul Wilson although he made one very tough catch over the middle today.

I have not noticed the fullbacks do anything at all with the offense on the field.

Moody is coming around and is a better playmaker than Rainey at this moment in time. I know Rainey is still nursing his groin injury, so he gets a pass for the rest of spring, but Moody has started to turn up the heat on showcasing his talent this spring.

Both quarterbacks were off and on today. I have been fine with Brantley throwing into coverage all of last year and even a little now. However, it is getting to a point where he is going to have to be a lot smarter with the ball. Coach Loeffler was on him a few times today including twice when he held the ball way too long during plays when Loeffler saw he had a throw to make.

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