Spring Practice Report - Day 8

A spring full of returning players and a lot of injuries means a lot of young guys are getting a lot of work. It isn't exactly how the Florida Gators planned things, but spring is usually for younger players to learn the ropes. We are seeing a lot of that and so far it appears the defense is way ahead of the offense. Monday, with an emphasis on the running game, it appeared to be much of the same.

The Gators started the contact on Monday with special teams action and field goals. There was nothing very eventful in this stage except for Urban Meyer getting all over Earl Okine for not blocking a field goal and the next time out Earl jumped over the line to tried and block it. He missed the block but evidently Meyer got in his ear enough about giving extra effort.

The Gators went to individual drills before finally getting after it on the 10-yard tackle drill. This one is all about making a defender miss in a closed space. The ball carriers have to carry the ball 10 yards and the defender has a five yard tunnel in which he can knock the ball carrier out of bounds. Today it was just the RB's versus the LB's.

The defense dominated the drill and after about 20 reps only three times did the offensive guy make it the full 10 yards within the five yard wide path.

Walk on Reginald Hopkins who bounces around from DB to RB was the first to score on the day and against John Jones. Emmanuel Moody made a nice play going hard left and then cutting back hard to the right on Stamper to get through. Rainey made Spikes miss pretty bad after being engulfed by the monster linebacker every time last week....Spikes looks a little out of sorts like he isn't feeling good today.

The Gators then practiced short yardage situations and mostly running the ball with an occasional play action pass to keep the defense honest. Right now the offensive line is so beat up the matchups are just not fair. To start the drills the offensive line looked like this - Marcus Gilbert at left tackle, Corey Hobbs at left guard, Sam Robey at center, Carl Johnson at right guard, and David Young at right tackle.

The defense won almost every snap, but here are a few of the highlights from this portion of practice...

Offensive Coordinator Steve Addazio was all over Robey on one play for not making a block on the middle linebacker. Omar Hunter got an 'atta boy' from defensive Line Coach Dan McCarney on a play where he slammed Emmanuel Moody at the line of scrimmage. Rainey cruised through on one play behind the blocks of Young and Johnson on the right side. Nick Alajajian substituted in and played a lot on the first team at right tackle instead of Young. Freshman tight end Desmond Parks was injured on a play, it looked like a knee injury.

The Gators went to their 7-on-7 portion of practice and the offense, without the play of the line had a little more success.

Aaron Hernandez caught a short pass and got about 15 yards...Joe Haden broke up a pass...Carl Moore with a big play on a crossing pattern from Tim Tebow...John Brantley tried to hit Paul Wilson 45 yards deep but slightly overthrown...Tebow tried to hit Frankie Hammond on a post route, but Major Wright interfered just a bit early...Tebow connected deep to Hernandez about 40 yards deep along the left sideline...Out pass to T.J. Lawrence from Brantley and he got some yards really quick after the catch...Brantley throwing to T.J. Lawrence actually threw it right to Wondy Pierre-Louis who just can't catch a ball that hits him in the chest...John Jones broke up a pass from John Brantley to walk-on tight end Christopher Coleman...Hammond made a nice stretched out grab on a short out pass from Brantley...Brantley threw short to Paul Wilson, but broken up by Wondy and Spikes grabbed the ball that bounced high in the air....Deep ball to Carl Moore, Moses Jenkins broke up the pass from Tebow...Shallow crosser to Hernandez from Brantley who hit him in stride for a long gainer...Tebow to Moody behind the line of scrimmage. Moody juked the linebacker for extra yardage.

The team portion saw more of the defense pretty much dominating the offense.

Moody for nothing...Moody got four yards and offense is happy with the positive play...Alajajian still in at right tackle...Lawrence dropped the ball and Tebow on him, "Come on 18, make a play."

2nd unit, Young at right tackle with Byran Jones at right guard.

Walk-on Christopher Scott got nothing on first down...Crosser by T.J. Lawrence caught about 12 yards deep goes for more....Carlos Dunlap in for the first time all spring...Brantley throws it right in the arms of Ryan Stamper, but the ball fell to the ground...Steven Wilks gets a little play action pass and long run after the catch on the left side...Scott broke a run up the middle for about 15 yards...Scott, back to back, went for about 20 yards this time...Dunlap blocked a Tebow pass... Brendan Beal in for his first time all spring and made a tackle on his first play on the field...Beal intercepted the ball from Brantley on his second play of practice...

The two-minute drill was a mixed bag. The offense came out screaming but then sputtered near the goal line.

2 Minute Drill

1's
OL - Johnson,Hobbs, Robey, Young, Gilbert

Tebow completes to Moore for a first down...Complete to Hernandez for a first down...Complete to Moore for a first down...Moody up the gut for a first down...Tebow throws the ball away...Cunningham forces a sack on Tebow...Hernandez drops the first down close to the end zone

2's

Brantley gets it to Frankie Hammond along the left side who gets a first down...Quick hitter to Lawrence for about 8 yards and he gets out of bound...Scott fumbles on 2nd down, but they move the ball ahead anyway to continue practice...Brantley throws a little behind Hammond incomplete...Pass break up by Jon Bostic on a Brantley pass to T.J. Lawrence...T.J. Lawrence gets about 15 on a quick out route...Lawrence for another 10 and out of bounds

1's

Tebow over throw on first play...Throws a little behind Moody on the second play and Moody drops it...Moore not ready for a pass over the middle and the ball was almost intercepted...Pass break up by Will Hill from Tebow to Hernandez

2's

Sack from Edwin Herbert...Brantley gets good yardage with his feet on second play...Lawrence with a short catch near the out of bounds, but gets popped by Adrian Bushell first...Sack by William Green...Brantley overthrows Lawrence on a seam route

Injuries have caused the defense to dominate in my opinion. Especially along the offensive line, but now with David Nelson and Deonte Thompson out with their injuries, it is effecting the skill players too.

Offensive injuries or absences...

RB Jeff Demps (running track), Brandon James (foot)
WR Riley Cooper (playing baseball), Deonte Thompson (hamstring), David Nelson (foot injury), Omarius Hines (legs)
TE Desmond Parks (knee or ankle)
OL Mike Pouncey (shoulder), Maurkice Pouncey (shoulder), James Wilson (foot), Jim Barrie (knee), Mo Hurt (neck), Matt Patchan (knee)

Defensive injuries or absences...

DE Justin Trattou (shoulder)
DT Lawrence Marsh (?), Terron Sanders (shoulder), Troy Epps (knee), Brandon Antwine (knee)
LB Brandon Hicks (shoulder), AJ Jones (?), Dustin Doe (?)
CB Jeremy Brown (back)

During the season this would be a devastating amount of injuries, but the truth is a number of these players could play through some of these injuries if needed. Still, a look at the bright side means some young guys are getting a lot of repetitions. This may not be more clear than at center where Sam Robey has played a lot with the first team and held his own for most of the spring.

David Young, Jonotthan Harrison, and now Nick Alajajian are really starting to benefit from the extra snaps as well. Young is getting to try different positions and figure out where he best belongs. He is a big body that could play either guard or tackle. Alajajian saw some time with the first offensive line today and did okay. Harrison is a scrapper that is likely a guard and gets after it.

With Sanders and Marsh out in the middle of the defensive line, Omar Hunter and and Jaye Howard have entrenched themselves as play makers that may be hard to remove once the "old guys" get back. At the end of practice I saw the best play making line on the field with Carlos Dunlap and Jermaine Cunningham at ends and Hunter and Howard at tackle. That is a huge defensive line and one with a lot of quickness and ability to make life rough on the offense.

With all the injuries at receiver I would say recently T.J. Lawrence has made the most of it. He is playing a lot and catching the ball a lot as you can read above. Lawrence is not a flashy receiver, but he catches almost everything and has decent strength and speed.

............

Gators continue to host big time prospects for practices.

Manning (SC) DE Dexter Morant and CB Johnavon Fulton were visiting at practice. Ft Lauderdale (FL) University DE David Perry was also in attendance.


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