Nick and I went to Florida’s open practice today and observed Florida football for the first time up close and personal this fall. I’ll tackle observations of the offense.
Jeff Driskel looked good. Those behind him — other than Tyler Murphy — did not. Skylar Morhinweg and Max Staver did not impress. Throws that sailed, some that looked like dead ducks, the backup quarterback spot will be an interesting thing to track as camp continues. If Driskel goes down, it would be very disadvantageous for Florida’s season, while Murphy grasps things from a mental aspect, by all accounts, there is a noticeable talent drop off.
The most talked about offensive unit this offseason had a freshmen that took fans’ breath away, and is my MVP from the open practice, Demarcus Robinson — we’ll get to him later. As a unit the receivers did some nice things. Quinton Dunbar rotated with Robinson at the X position and made some nice catches, most notably climbing the ladder and making a grab around Marcus Roberson. Trey Burton also looked good out of the slot receiver position. From the tight end spot, Clay Burton got the most time today.
Still no Matt Jones in the backfield. In his place, Adam Lane and primarily Mack Brown ran with the first unit. Lane, who is said to be the hardest player on the team to tackle, took a huge hit dished out on him by freshman Keanu Neal. Kelvin Taylor ran with the second unit. Florida didn’t run often today.
After walking through defensive line stunts for about 10 minutes with offensive line coach Tim Davis, they upped the tempo to full speed, and botched the first play against the stunt. Other than that, pass protection wasn’t that bad. Trenton Brown, who is a mountain of a man, ran with the second unit and looked like he was in slow motion all night. Tyler Moore looked solid inside at right guard and will provide nice depth when Jon Halapio returns.
So what individuals stood out?
Demarcus Robinson: He looked like a seasoned veteran out there tonight in his first showcase in front of fans since the Orange and Blue debut. The play that had everyone in attendance buzzing was a route in which Robinson put a quick move on cornerback Marcus Roberson, reached out with one hand, brought the ball in and continued running without breaking stride. He’s my MVP from Florida’s first open practice.
DJ Humphries: I’ve had questions about Humphries pertaining to his size. He’s still under 300 pounds but that’s quite alright. On back to back plays in a full speed drill, Humphries absolutely stoned Ronald Powell from both a three-point stance and a stand up position. Humphries also kick-stepped well to get in front of Powell in a pass protection drill. He’s quick but he doesn’t lose any ground when firing off in run protection. He’s got a good base, and isn’t easily moved.
Quinton Dunbar: He may have his position usurped by Robinson in the minds of some fans but he played well in my eye tonight. He ran some nice routes and has been a guy that the coaches have raved about as stepping up to teach the younger guys how to play.
Jeff Driskel: Threw a very nice ball before formal practice even started to Dunbar that was just a hair out of bounds. Driskel looks fully acclimated to the practice environment as his first post-surgery week concludes. Threw the ball with nice zip and looked in no-way impeded by his appendectomy.
Max Garcia: A lineman that impressed me at left guard primarily because I haven’t really seen much of him. I wanted to see how Garcia would stand up in pass protection — which wasn’t the offensive line’s strong suit last season. No glaring weaknesses today, but Garcia’s progression is something I’ll be tracking in these open practices because he’s in a battle with Kyle Koehne for that left guard spot.