Face the Gator Nation Part 2

There are only a few more open practice left before the Florida Gator football coaches close the gates to the public and turn their full attention towards Idaho and the 2014 season.

Including today,the Gators will hold two more open practices and Andre Spivey is back with five questions that a burning a hole in his brain, ready for me to answer.

Here we go.

1.) What has Matt Jones looked like on the field? Is he a better asset running or catching the ball?

Jones has looked great coming back from a knee injury against LSU that ended his season. Jones admitted that he was never fully healthy and didn’t feel like himself last year after a stomach illness wreaked havoc on his 230-pound frame before fall camp last season. Jones is running the ball hard and fast and he’s provided us — in combination with Keanu Neal — two of the biggest hits of fall camp.

Jones’ biggest asset is his versatility. Florida may be switching to the spread offense but they still want to run the ball downhill. Jones gives Florida a battering ram that can carry the ball between the tackles but he’s also being used in the B position because of his exceptional hands. Jones has been head and shoulders the best receiving running back on the team and his hands will allow him to remain on the field even when Kelvin Taylor or another back is in the backfield.


2.) Will Muschamp has talked about special teams needing to get better, have they?

The past two practices there haven’t been any kicks or punts live, so it’s hard to tell. There were some snapping issues but Will Muschamp reported that the kickers did well in the first scrimmage last Sunday.

Right now I have confidence in both Kyle Christy and Johnny Townsend punting the football but haven’t seen enough of the kickers to say that they have turned it around since last season.


3.) Latroy Pittman was a guy you thought was going to have a big year how’s doing out there?

Pittman is being used in the slot and he’s actually getting some opportunities to carry the ball on sweeps. I’m not sure if Pittman is the best option as a receiving target on the team and I’ve been equally impressed with younger guys like Alvin Bailey and C.J. Worton.

Not saying that Pittman can’t make an impact, I just think guys like Demarcus Robinson, Matt Jones, Jake McGee, Ahmad Fulwood and Quinton Dunbar are all better options with the ball in their hand right now.


4.) What about Alex Anzalone? How’s he rebounding from injury?

Alex Anzalone looks to finally be healthy. He says he had a minor ankle injury last season as well as the shoulder injury he sustained in the spring of his freshman year. He’s 100% healthy now but there is a little log jam at linebacker.

Mike Taylor, Antonio Morrison and Jarrad Davis are holding down the Will and Mike linebacker spots and Neiron Ball is putting together a nice camp in front of Anzalone at Sam.

Florida doesn’t use three linebackers a ton — they’re in nickel more than 70% of the time, so Anzalone will have to get past Ball to get some serious playing time this season.


5.) Can you give us a rundown on what the practice is like? Just a general rundown on how the different drills and periods they are going through.

Practice generally runs between 13-18 periods. The team starts off by going through a dry run of plays, 11-on-11. In this drill, everything is full speed except for the quarterback, who doesn’t throw the ball. This leads into an active stretch before the team breaks up for position drills.

Practice runs roughly two hours and the team works positional drills, special teams (punt/kick coverage) as well as full 11-on-11 two-minute drills, full drives with crowd noise pumped in over the speakers and different situational drills where the team is presented with a scenario (ex: down two, two minutes to go or third down situational drills with varying distances to go.)


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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC