The Florida Gators football team’s first open practice was dominated by updates and speculation about Vernon Hargreaves. During period 10 of open practice Hargreaves went down with an apparent left knee injury. Hargreaves was carted off of the practice fields and Will Muschamp released a statement saying that Hargreaves underwent a MRI that revealed a bone bruise and that he is day-to-day. Bullet dodged. While the health of Hargreaves is on the mind of all Florida fans, we did go into practice with five questions on our mind and the first open practice of the season answered some of those questions for us.
1) How is Jeff Driskel’s timing with his receivers?
I can confidently say that I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Florida offense operate on Thursday night. Jeff Driskel showed a lot of zip on his passes and he looks much more comfortable — predictably so — working out of the shotgun. Driskel used too much touch at times on some passes but he had absolutely beautiful touchdown passes to DeAndre Goolsby and Jake McGee for over 30-yards apiece. Driskel will continue to develop here but I would expect him to have his best season in Gainesville in this offense. I know it is early but Driskel’s skillset is going to be utilized much better this season, certainly better than it has with the previous coordinators.
2) Who was running with the first team at safety?
Marcus Maye was in a non-contact jersey today but, for the most part, he and Jabari Gorman were the first team safeties. Duke Dawson worked exclusively as a safety tonight, which surprised me initially. Dawson worked with Gorman and the first team as well as with Marcell Harris and the second team. Will Muschamp said publically that Dawson will play cornerback, nickel and safety so, I assume that Dawson will continue working more safety this fall as that is the position he is least familiar with.
3) What does Kurt Roper’s offense really look like?
The offense was in its infancy stage this spring but it is starting to learn to walk and could be off and running by the time the season kicks off. For the first time in a while I had a good time watching the Florida offense. There will be a lot of read-option, a lot of quarterback runs, jet sweeps, screens and there will still be a power running game. The offensive players keep mentioning how simple the offense is and how it was easy to pick up — much easier than the last playbook — but Roper runs so many variances of formations that it will keep the defense guessing.
4) Is Kelvin Taylor the clear No. 1 running back or will there be a running back by committee?
Taylor definitely started the day off taking the first reps but Matt Jones got a lot of work in the backfield and at the B position. This job is far from over as Brandon Powell earned a lot of reps and looks to clearly be vying for a role this fall. I think, initially, that we will see a lot of rotation between the running backs this fall.
5) The young defensive backs, who’s sinking and who’s swimming?
Vernon Hargreaves going down with a bone bruise opened the door for the younger cornerbacks. As we previously stated, Dawson was playing safety on Thursday, so the extra reps were dolled out to JC Jackson — who replaced Hargreaves on the first team — and Quincy Wilson. Wilson and Jackson don’t look like freshmen — that’s for sure. Jackson is still in a non-contact jersey but he’s as physical as any corner that you’ll see and he still got a little contact in today when he could. Wilson looks like a natural in orange and blue. Long and lean and his footwork and hips look much improved from the last time I saw him. With Hargreaves listed as day-to-day now is the time for the freshmen to seize the opportunity and earn playing time in the fall.
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