Saturday Scrimmage In-Depth Report

They were due. The Florida offense was due to have a big day and on Saturday that day came. Maybe they just need to come to the ballpark a little earlier. Urban Meyer decided to move practice up to 8 a.m. and with the cool morning and ground still damp, the offense came alive in a big way. The unlikely hero was back up quarterback John Brantley. Here is how it all went down.

The Gators started the scrimmage morning with the usual "Circle of Life" drill. The highlight was the matchup between Jonotthan Harrison and Carlos Dunlap. The true freshman Harrison drove the All-American junior Dunlap back several yards before planting him on the ground. The players and fans all erupted at the site. Harrison has become a pancake machine at practice in his first three weeks wearing a Gator uniform.

When the scrimmage started, the gloves came off from the offense, especially the second unit. Here is how it all went.

They started with "Drives". The offense's mission is to drive the length of the field and score. They started the ball on the 30 for the first four.

From the (-30) - Chris Rainey ran straight ahead for 4 yards....flag on second down, a false start on freshman offensive guard Byran Jones,...Rainey for four yards again up the middle... senior defensive end Jermaine Cunningham knocks the ball away from Tebow on third and the offense gives up the series.

From the (-30) - Tebow on a sprint right pass and hits Deonte Thompson for 18 yards on a rope...from the (-48) Tebow option keeper for five yards...Tebow's pass a little high to Carl Moore and incomplete...Tebow incomplete to Cade Holliday who dropped a nice pass...Cunningham with a sack on 4th down.

From the (-30) – John Brantley hands off to walk-on running back Christopher Scott for 3...Scott for nothing...Brantley connects with Paul Wilson for 11 yards...Christopher Scott for 8 up the gut,...Scott for 0...Scott hard run for five yards....Scott for 17 over the left side for 17 yards....Deonte drops a sweet long pass from Brantley at the end zone...Brantley short pass to junior wide receiver Justin Williams who weaves through defenders for 9 yards...linebacker John Jones blitzes and catches Scott behind the line of scrimmage for -1...Scott rushes ahead for a tough 3 yards and a 1st down...from the (+20) freshman linebacker Jon Bostic makes a tackle on Scott for -1...sophomore defensive end William Green blitzes and blocks a pass from Brantley...On 3rd down Brantley throws a bullet to Paul Wilson for 11 yards to the (+10)...Wilson dropped a quick pass from Brantley at the 5...Scott straight ahead for 3...Short crosser to senior receiver Carl Moore over the middle and he gets to the 1...on 4th down from the (+1) Christopher Scott rubs off the left side and goes in for the TD almost untouched.

From the (-30) – Flare out pass to sophomore fullback Steven Wilks from Tebow and senior linebacker Dustin Doe on the tackle for no gain...Cunningham sacks Tebow (Deonte was ticked off because he was steaming down the sideline behind junior cornerback Joe Haden – secondary coach Chuck Heater was razzing Deonte about not really beating Haden)...on 3rd-and-14, Tebow dumps off to Wilks who gets 6, but a loss for the offense who would have to punt.

From the (-35) – Brantley hands off to Rainey for 10 yards up the middle...Deonte Thompson on a reverse to the right for 3 yards...Haden blitzes and chases Brantley to throw out of bounds...Wilks takes a medium pass and ends up getting 12 yards and a first down...Post pattern to freshman receiver Frankie Hammond and Haden knocks the ball down while Hill flattens Hammond...On 2nd-and-10, Scott over the middle for 9 yards...Haden breaks up a corner pass to walk-on tight end Christopher Coleman...4th and 1and a Brantley keeper does not get it.

From the (-25) – Brantley hands off to Scott for 4 yards...Scott gets a tough yard over the left side...Walk-on fullback Rick Burgess catches an outlet pass from Brantley to the 48 yard line and a 1st down – he lowered his shoulder to pop the safety...Brantley deep to Deonte down the left sideline and Brantley barely overthrows him...Brantley outlet pass to Carl Moore on the sideline for 13 yards to the (+39) ...Addazio calling out line blocks for the young guys before the plays in this series...Brantley drops back to throw over the middle and John Jones breaks up the pass in mid flight...Brantley rares back and beams a shot to Cade Holiday for 13 yards and a 1st down...from the (+26) Bostic hits Scott who still manages to get 3 yards...Brantley hits Carl Moore on a seam route for the 23 yard TD.

The next stage of practice was what is called "Coming Out", as in coming out of the end zone. The ball is played at the (-1) yard line and the offense just has to get a first down to be successful on the series. The point being that at least there is a better turn around from not having to punt from the back of your own end zone.

Tebow at quarterback and Byran Jones jumps offsides...Rainey straight ahead for 2 yards....Tebow buys time and gets the first down pass to Carl Moore at about the 14.

Brantley at QB and Coleman jumps offsides...Scott straight ahead for 1...John Jones breaks up a pass...Brantley wings it to Coleman on the left side for 7 yards and he battles for 3 more yards and the 1st down.

Tebow on a terrible long pass to Deonte (they were not on the same page)...Rainey ahead for 3...Carl Moore catches another 1st down from Tebow.

Brantley hits Deonte on a fly pattern on the far left side for about 60 yards.

The Gators then went into 2nd down situations...

2nd-and-15 – sophomore safety Will Hill jumps a route in front of Carl Moore and should have had an interception, the ball falls incomplete...Tebow scrambles from a Jaye Howard-Cunningham sandwich and throws a bullet to Deonte Thompson over the middle for junior safety Ahmad Black to break up.

2nd -15 Thompson drops a Brantley pass...Brantley on fire as he hits Justin Williams on a 12 yard in-route in the middle of the field.

2nd -12 Brantley gets away from a Howard and Duke Lemmens sack and throws it away...Wilks with a tough catch but for no yards

2nd -12 freshman defensive end Earl Okine knocks down the first pass from Brantley...Burgess gets a flare pass and a first down for 12 yards.

2nd -10 Tebow dumps it to Wilks who gets 4 yards...Tebow drops back and Haden breaks up a deep ball to Deonte.

2nd -8 Hand off to Christopher Scott for 3 yards...Harrison pancakes a walk-on offensive lineman...John Jones batted down (his third of the day) a Brantley pass.

3rd Down Situations...

3rd -10 Tebow incomplete to Holliday on a deep pass.
3rd -10 Lemmens and Howard pressure Tebow who throws incomplete to Rainey.
3rd -5 Tebow sacked by Cunningham.
3rd -5 Tebow outlet pass to Deonte who dropped the pass.

3rd -5 Brantley under pressure from Cunningham and he throws into triple coverage, but the ball is incomplete.
3rd -10 Brantley outlet pass to Burgess for first down.
3rd -7 Burgess gets only 5 so ball goes to defense.
3rd -10 Brantley hits Carl Moore for 35 yards down the left sideline.
3rd -5 Brantley hits Deonte for 20 and a first down.
3rd -4 Scott gets about 8.

Red Zone series...

1st -10 (+25) Baloney toss sweep around the right side for a TD from 25 1st -10 (+25)Brantley nice fade to Thompson for 25 yards and a TD over senior cornerback Markihe Anderson.

Missed two plays.....
1st -10 (+11) – Rainey straight ahead for 11 yards and the TD

1-10 (+25) Brantley outlet pass to Holliday for 11 yards....Scott from the 14 runs in over, and around defenders to the TD.

1st -10 (+12) Rainey for 4 off the right side...Rainey for 7 yards straight ahead...pass incomplete from Brantley...Rainey for 0...Rainey untouched over the right side from the half yard line.

1st -10 (+12) Scott barrels his way over the left side for 10 yards to the 2....Brantley on the naked bootleg for a 2 yard touchdown.

2 Minute Drill

1st -10 (+ 30) Joe Haden levels Cade Holliday who catches an 8 yard pass from Brantley...outlet pass to Moore for 6 yards...Rainey for 14 yards over the left side...Out pass to Carl Moore who goes up the sideline for 9 yards...Rainey around the right side for 11 yards...Brantley goes deep and just misses Deonte...Deonte drops another pass...3rd and 10 and Duke Lemmens gets a sack...Brantley throws deep to Carl Moore who tries to make a leaping acrobatic catch but incomplete.

End of Scrimmage...

Superlatives...

Deonte Thompson had a great day when he caught the ball. Of course, we could be talking about a day to remember forever except for three drops and a couple of times where the ball was just out of reach. Thompson gets a pass simply because he missed the whole week of practice leading up to this scrimmage, but he needs to improve on those. I do think this was a good confidence builder for Thompson and you could see it in him after the practice during interviews.

Carl Moore had a very good day himself. He has definitely been the star of spring among the wide receivers and he has shown the ability to run fast and make the tough catch. His big frame makes him a great target for quarterbacks.

Christopher Scott continues to improve at running back and Coach Carter who coaches the position raved about him after practice. The walk-on who played safety last season is the biggest back on the squad. Carter says it certainly isn't his speed that stands out. Scott has the ability to run over and through tacklers and has done it in every practice this year.

"From the very beginning he did," Carter said about Scott impressing him with his play this spring. "He is a guy that has a lot of talent and is a guy that is going to be a player for us. I am real excited for him. He is probably a 4.6 guy that knows his strengths on the football field.

Fellow running back Chris Rainey had the best run of the spring on a toss sweep that went 25 yards for a touchdown. Carter knows Rainey can do all of that, but is real excited about the other aspects of Rainey's game that improved on Saturday.

"He did some good things, but you expect him to do those things," Carter said about Rainey's ability to run with the ball. "The things we are focusing on are his blocking and his pass protection and he did a good job with that."

A star may have been born in senior walk-on fullback Rick Burgess. At 6-1, and 230 pounds he has good size for the SEC, he also showed a great deal of playing ability catching four passes and gaining first downs on all of them in the scrimmage. Urban Meyer was seen talking to the Southern Illinois transfer a great deal in between drills and after some of his outstanding play.

The offensive line needs to get some praise for the day they had. There were a number of sacks in the scrimmage as noted above, but overall they provided the quarterbacks a lot of time to throw the ball deep and often created huge running lanes for the running backs.

The offensive star was no doubt John Brantley. The Heisman Trophy winner's back up, Brantley had his best practice as a Gator according to Urban Meyer when he met with the media. Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio followed suit and was very proud of the sophomore gun slinger.

"He had a great day and threw the heck out of the ball," Addazio said with a smile on his face. "He showed some leadership out there and is a very talented guy. I would say that was at the very top of his best days (at Florida)."

The defensive MVP would have to go to Jermaine Cunningham. I saw at least three sacks and he had many more hurries on the day. The senior from Georgia is enjoying his best week of practice as a Gator and looks to have a huge break out senior season.

One other notable is the play of junior linebacker John Jones. Quiet for his first two seasons on campus, Jones continues to be a force this spring, especially in pass defense. On Saturday he had a sack, forced a quick pass, and had three pass breakups down field playing his zone particularly well. In a defense that is now priding itself on great pass defense, that is the kind of play that will get you on the field.

Notable injuries...

freshman fullback T.J. Pridemore told me he sat out with a concussion and should be back early next week. Sophomore offensive guard James Wilson said he will miss the rest of spring, but his injury isn't serious and there is some cartilage floating in his foot they will have to remove. Freshman offensive lineman David Young was on crutches, will have X-Ray this weekend to determine the extent of his knee cap issue. T.J. Lawrence was seen moving well but not practicing after his injury on Friday, he looks to be a day to day decision on a return.

The Gators continue to reel in top recruits to watch practice. 2009 offensive line commitment Jon Halapio showed up to cheer on his future teammates. In the outstanding 2010 class defensive linemen Tavares Barnes and Dominique Easley were seen watching practice as well as offensive lineman JuWuan James who has spent the last four days in Gainesville.


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