Practice 10 Thoughts

The Gators had a "thud" practice where there was no tackling involved. No doubt this is partially due to the large number of injuries adding up, but also the fact there should be a scrimmage Saturday morning. Friday evening was more offense and the passing game seemed to open up a bit. John Brantley took control and one of his better days.

We aren't going to make this a long version because Florida head coach Urban Meyer spoke this evening and we had to get that up for you as well as the highlight video and then back again early morning on the practice field for the scrimmage.

The day started out kind of cool for me......literally. Urban Meyer decided to take out his frustrations with the media on me Friday. I was seated and with my back turned to the gate when Meyer came in. He was holding and drinking an ice cold bottle of water when he arrived and decided he would shower me with some of it's contents as he walked by.

In some states that could be considered assault. Now if I just had Mike Bianchi here to cry me a river in my defense (like he does with his own fellow employees). Maybe I could use his gift of persuasion into heisting some of the millions that Meyer gets paid.

Nah, in the words of of an immortal Big-12 football coach, "I'm a man, I'm 42"....I can take it.

Okay, we had our fun...now on with the show. We'll just talk about the individual positions and how I thought they fared.

First off Junior quarterback John Brantley had a great practice. Again, this was no contact and receivers ran free after the catch, but he was finding receivers all day open and down field. I am not sure how many 25 yard corner patterns he hit today and in stride to different receivers and different positions within the receiver corps.

Didn't get much from Trey Burton on the day. He was solid, but did hit Justin Williams on a corner pass in the middle of the end zone for the only score in the 2-minute session of practice.

Again, without tackling it isn't really fair to grade the running backs. Emmanuel Moody and Mike Gillislee both practiced at or about full speed. Junior Jeff Demps didn't compete in practice as usual this spring as he has been with the track team. Demps was a star of the day when he ran a 2010 world best 10.11 in the 100 meters at the Percy-Beard track complex.

There were plenty of receivers that shined. If I had to pick a guy that really stood out it was senior Justin Williams and if you watch the highlight film, you will see just what kind of day he had. He was catching the deep ball as mentioned above, but he made a lot of short passes and made defenders totally whiff before getting up field for lots of extra yardage. He did that a few times on the day.

If I had to say another guy that stood out it was true freshman slot receiver Robert Clark. Clark got himself open quite a few times deep and Brantley and Burton both found him as a reliable target. They spent quite a bit of time working on Clark in the slot as a receiver on bubble screens.

Chris Rainey also had a great day again and it was interesting to hear urban Meyer say that Rainey isn't healthy. That could be scary good news for when the junior sot receiver does get healthy.

Carl Moore returned to practice and was the biggest news of the day. He does show his emotion and frustrations out there more than most, but he is a quality receiver that the staff does not want to lose. Carl was a little rusty, dropping a few passes, but he also made several plays and you will find some of them in the highlights. He can make the spectacular catch when he sets his mind to it and he did just that on one diving catch on a mid range out pass.

Omarius Hines and Frankie Hammond got work at the 'Z' with the first unit. Both made one or two big plays at the position. Hines caught a long touchdown pass when he somehow got the defense mixed up and Lorenzo Edwards was trying to cover him.

Deonte Thompson has become 'Mr. Reliable' and had two long lays one for touchdown on the day. I really think the 'incident' may have galvanized him.

Solomon Patton (boot with an ankle injury), Andre Debose (hamstring) and Stephen Alli (reported groin injury) did not participate in practice on the day. Of note was receiver coach Zach Azzanni in Debose's ear during the plays and visually walking him through his responsibilities on each play. I haven't noticed this before and it makes me think that we may see Debose soon. Here's to hoping.

The best play by a tight end today was a crossing pattern and catch by Gerald Christian for about 15 yards. The tight ends have been everywhere this spring, but kind of silent today, especially Jordan Reed who has had a big time spring according to Urban Meyer.

Desmond parks is still the only injury among tight ends.

On the offensive line, without banging, again not much to report except injuries and who is replacing the injured.

We will start with the injuries as guards James Wilson, mo hurt, and Carl Johnson are all out with injuries. Those are the three guys that were all vying for the two starting spots before and during most of the spring, although Carl Johnson should be the starting left guard. The Gators are still missing back up centers Sam Robey and Kyle Koehne. They are also without tackle Matt Patchan. Most of this group will miss the rest of spring.

The 2-deep on the offensive line today looked like:

LT: (SO) Xavier Nixon
LG: (SO) David Young
C: (SR) Maurkice Pouncey, (SO) Nick Alajajian
RG: (FR) Jon Halapio, (FR) Jonotthan Harrison
RT: (SR) Marcus Gilbert, (FR) Ian Silberman

That is all the bodies that are left.

On the defensive line it isn't any better. The injuries include senior defensive tackles Brandon Antwine, Lawrence Marsh, and Terron Sanders. They are joined by junior defensive end Lerentee McCray who showed up in shorts and did not participate in practice.

The scholarship defensive line depth chart right now is:

WDE: (SR) Duke Lemmens, (JR) William Green, Kedric Johnson
SDE: (SR) Justin Trattou, (SO) Earl Okine
NT: (SO) Omar Hunter, (FR) Leon Orr
DT: Jaye Howard

Howard continues to make plays. Orr had one of the plays of the day when he intercepted a Trey Burton pass and rumbled, bumbled, and stumbled the other direction for a would be touchdown. Defensive line coach Dan McCarney ran a great ways to celebrate the interception with Orr. Trattou blocked a pass from Brantley and had a would-be sack if tackling were allowed.

At linebacker Jelani Jenkins was starting at the MIKE or middle linebacker spot for the fourth day in a row. Right now it appears to be his to lose. I didn't notice any big plays from him Friday, but he is a big hitter and without the hitting going on, it isn't quite his game.

The rotation for the most part was like this:

MIKE: (FR) Jelani Jenkins, (SO) Jon Bostic, (SO) Brendan Beal
SAM: (SR) A.J. Jones, (SO) Dee Finley, (FR) Neiron Ball
WILL: (SR) Brandon Hicks, (SR) Lorenzo Edwards

One line up I did notice that was very different occurred in part of the 7 on 7 drill. When the offense had a pro personnel set, meaning a linebacker and a fullback, the Gators had three big linebackers in there. Bostic was manning the middle, with Beal at the SAM, and Edwards at the WILL. That is about 750 pounds of linebacker on the field at the same time and a formidable group.

Jelani and Hicks got most of the work in the nickel with the first group, but Bostic did substitute for Jelani a few times in that package.

Bostic made two great plays today. On one he fought through the block of Justin Williams who was trying to crack on a bubble screen for Robert Clark. Bostic just plowed into Williams and basically tackled him and Clark on the play for no gain.

In the secondary, not much has changed...the depth chart looks something like this...

BC: (JR) Janoris Jenkins, (FR) Jaylen Watkins, (FR) Josh Shaw
FC: (SR) Moses Jenkins, (SO) Jeremy Brown (SO) Adrian Bushell
Nick: (FR) Matt Elam, Josh Shaw
FS: (JR) Will Hill, (FR) Jordan Haden
SS: (SR) Ahmad Black, Matt Elam

The only injured player in the secondary right now is (SO) safety Josh Evans. He should be able to play at the end of next week, but they will likely hold him out of the spring game in my opinion. Bushell was back at practice and in full pads for the first time all spring. However, he didn't participate in any of the practice between offense and defense.

Watkins had a much better day today than he has had in a little while. Janoris Jenkins continues to have his best spring of the three he has been on campus. I am looking for an all_American year from Janoris Jenkins. I counted at east two more pass break ups in the team drills for Jenkins.

Josh Shaw is just a steady guy that shows up big in at least one or two [plays a practice and does something that makes you take notice. John Brantley found Robert Clark deep on a corner pattern about 25 yards. Shaw did a great job of just riding the faster Clark out of the play all together so that he couldn't get to the ball.

Ahmad Black had three pass break ups and a very solid practice on Friday. Although, one of the break ups was a pass that hit him in the chest and should have been an interception. Fellow safety starter Will Hill had the only interception on the day running a circle around Robert Clark to get to the poorly thrown pass on a deep corner route.

Matt Elam continues to start in the nickel and makes his two to three plays a day. Urban Meyer had high praise for Elam after the practice on Friday.

Caleb Sturgis was put into some fast situations in the two-minute drill at the end of practice and didn't fare very well. I had Sturgis hitting only 3 of five field goals on the day and only one was beyond 40 yards.

There were at least a couple oh high profile prospects on hand to watch the Gators practice. Gainesville (GA) linebacker A.J. Johnson was on hand. The former Tennessee commitment looks like a beast, even as a junior in high school. Also big time running back Mike Bellamy of Punta Gorda (FL) Charlotte watched the Gators practice all day while wearing a bright orange Gator t-shirt. Bellamy was on campus taking part in the Pepsi Relays where he clocked a 10.57 in the 100 meters and finished second among all high schoolers at the event.

Former Gator players Vernell Brown, Dorian Munroe, Wondy Pierre-Louis, and Aaron Hernandez were in attendance at practice. Munroe said he is still waiting to hear back one last time on his possible eligibility to play in 2010.

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