Spring Practice Report - Day 9

The defense continues to control some facets of the game at Florida's spring practice but the Gators made strides in the short passing game on Wednesday. Here is my view and a few anecdotes about what went on Wednesday as the Gators head down the homestretch of spring practice.

It took a long time to get started on Wednesday for some reason. That is a little unusual with the referees they pay to be on hand, but there certainly were some highlights once the offense and defense squared off.

Ten-Yard Tackle Drill

The offensive skill guys really turned this drill around from Saturday where the tacklers dominated. On Wednesday, the moves were plenty to score. Here is how I saw it.

Chris Rainey a move on Edwards to score...Emmanuel Moody made a move and then powered by Major Wright...Christopher Scott with a move on John Jones...Paul Wilson went right by Markihe Anderson...Jon Bostic and Dee Finley stop their opponents on two consecutive plays...Ryan Stamper corralled Rainey...Ahmad Black brings down Paul Wilson...Justin Williams gets by Janoris Jenkins...Rainey breezes right by Bostic...Markihe stops Frankie Hammond...Lerentee McCray takes down Scott...Justin Williams stiff armed Major Wright and scored...Wondy Pierre-Louis takes down Justin Williams to end it...

It was certainly a big turnaround from the last go around where the offensive guys seemed to only score three times in as many tries. Maybe they are learning ways to attack within the specified lane, I don't know but the drastic change was noticeable.

Running Game Preparation

Take out the corners and receivers and smash heads offense versus defensive front and safeties and the hitting gets brutal. The offense started off pounding away with Emmanuel Moody.

Moody for a couple up the middle...Moody for three yards and Stamper and offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey scrap--Stamper flips and throws Maurkice down like a rag doll....Tebow scored on an option keeper right up the gut...Option pitch right to Rainey from Tebow for a TD...defensive tackle Troy Epps in on first play with the 2's...Rainey ahead for a TD but Pridemore got called for holding... Moody scores over the left side blocked by Gilbert and Young...Bostic with a couple of nice tackles.

The offensive line had a little better day today, especially when Tebow kept the ball or they went outside with the ball. There are still some issues trying to power it in, however, the interior of the offensive line is as banged up as ever.

Maurkice Pouncey was playing guard from his normal center spot after being back for the first time since practice number 2. I wouldn't read a lot into it except the fact that they really are starting to like Robey a lot. My impression is that Robey is starting to make noise as the sixth best lineman (behind Pouncey, Pouncey, James Wilson, Carl Johnson, and Marcus Gilbert). Moving Maurkice around allows them to get that next best lineman on the field if there happens to be an injury somewhere else on the line.

They have moved linemen all over the place and it really shows the versatility of the guys they have right now. Carl Johnson and David Young have played every position except center this spring. Marcus Gilbert has played both tackle spots. Maurkice has played center and both guard spots. Jonotthan Harrison has played guard and tackle. Nick Alajajian has played both tackle spots. Corey Hobbs has played center and guard. They are really training up the line to be very flexible.

Team Offense vs. Team Defense

The receivers and corners joined up again as the two groups met at the middle of the field. The hitting was still going on and the offensive short passing game was about the only thing that worked. Here is some of what I saw.

Flare route to Moody up the field for about 30 yards (great looking play that was perfectly executed)...Janoris a pick after Stamper bats the ball up in the air...Adrian Bushell has excellent coverage on Carl Moore who can't quite bring in a long pass from Tebow along the right sideline...Bostic levels Christopher Scott and jars the ball loose on the hardest hit of the spring so far... Jaye Howard a sack on Brantley...Omar Hunter sacks Tebow...Lerentee McCray sacks Brantley...Maurkice Pouncey playing left guard for a bit...Duke Lemmens playing a little nose in a three man line...Defensive line has the offense seconding guessing themselves and the offense has no rhythm....Tebow throws the ball in the dirt...Brantley planted by Jaye Howard right when he threw it...hurried pass falls to the ground...T.J. Lawrence catches another corner pass from Brantley about 20 yards deep...Brantley overthrows a wide open Steven Wilks on a short roll out pass that could have gone 40 yards or more...Spikes sacked Tebow on a drop back from under center way before there was even a chance to throw the ball....defensive line caves in the middle of the offensive line and Tebow had to shovel it to no avail as the ball hits the ground...Tebow throws deep to Carl Moore covered tight by Janoris and over the top by Major Wright...ball incomplete...Hammond wide open catch over the middle from Brantley went for about 30 yards or so...Lawrence on another mid range out route for about 20 with Finley in coverage...Moses Jenkins tags Paul Wilson just as the ball arrives and the ball hits the ground...Brantley tries to hit walk-on tight end Christopher Coleman on a short crosser, but Lerentee McCray is there on the coverage and pops it in the air as Moses Jenkins intercepts...

Red Zone Team O vs. Team D

Again, it seemed the short passing game was the area the offense excelled.

Justin Williams catches the first ball on the left outside for about five yards...Moody dropped a would-be touchdown from Tebow from about 10 yards out...Paul Wilson dropped the ball. He had to stretch a little, but he was wide open and should have made the catch...Will Hill breaks up a sideline pass to Cade Holiday...Christopher Scott with a ten yard run...T.J. Pridemore beats Bostic to the outside for a quick score on a nice pass from Tebow...Wilks scores twice from inside the ten yard line...Carl Moore catches a short touchdown pass from Tebow...Bushell broke up a pass from Brantley to Justin Williams.

Meyer talked after the practice about the offensive line having a better practice than their defensive counterparts. I would say in certain aspects of the game, yes. For the most part, I think the defense controlled the line of scrimmage and especially when they were in the middle of the field. There were times when there were 3-4 sacks and tackles for loss in a row and that was all on the protection and blocking up front.

Some encouraging news this week is the return of some injured players. Troy Epps practiced on the defensive line Wednesday. Maurkice Pouncey was back on the offensive line. Monday saw the return of defensive end Carlos Dunlap and linebacker Brendan Beal. The best thing about all the injuries is that they don't seem to be season ending. I would expect linebackers A.J. Jones and Dustin Doe to be back soon along with wide receiver Deonte Thompson.

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