The old timers took the field Sunday night for the first time this fall. The returning scholarship football players minus their championship rings went through drills and competed against each other for the first time this fall. Gator Country was there as usual to try and bring you the best surveillance this side of the Swamp.
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First, until the pads come on, getting anything out of the linemen is pretty tough. That said a couple of things I noticed on the defensive line stood out as far as general look of the guys.
The first team defensive line right now is Jermaine Cunningham and Derrick Harvey at ends and McMillan and Javier Estopinan on the inside. I thought Cunningham looked decisively heavier than I remembered the last time, probably 20 pounds or so across his chest and arms. McMillan and Estopinan are both beefed up and closer to 300 than they were before.
As we reported here last week Lawrence Marsh is pushing 290 pounds and looks good doing so. Brandon Antwine certainly put on the weight as well. Terron Sanders has always been one of the biggest, now he looks a little more refined muscularly and came off the field after a hard practice with a lot of energy still left. Add these guys to the freshman group and the staff should be able to really rotate some big time players in and out.
I honestly didn’t see much of the offensive line, so I am going to skip them for now. They generally practice very far away and getting much from them is not easy. We will endeavor to do that this week before they shut down practices.
Most of the action until pads come on takes place with the offensive skill guys and the defensive back seven. We will start on offense as usual.
Tim Tebow shined all night throwing very good passes most of the time even though some of his receivers had the dropsies early on. Tebow made the short throws and the long ones. He did struggle at times finding the wide open man early, but he is still a young one, he will get better.
Brian Waggener threw well at times and others he missed the target. Like the young guys he is going to struggle with the speed and learning the offense, so i am not expecting much out of him for a while.
Not much to tell from the running backs except it is a sure thing that Kestahn Moore is the leader of the group. He wants to be in on every play, but when not he is helping the others. Speaking of others, I didn’t see Chevon Walker take a snap all night.
The receivers will be something special. Percy Harvin has rubber legs and will break more proverbial ankles than anyone we have seen this year. Corners are just going to have to be lucky to cover Percy on the field.
Bubba Caldwell isn’t too shabby himself. Maybe slightly less wiggle, close with the speed and a bit more strength, Caldwell is another defenders nightmare. I got good video of both in our video coverage
I like Jarred Fayson a lot and he will be a main staple of this offense before it is all over. He made a few nice plays tonight.
David Nelson seemed to be a regular target tonight for the quarterbacks and he took advantage of it except for one drop in one on one’s.
Louis Murphy, Riley Cooper, and Justin Williams really didn’t do anything to separate themselves tonight, nor did they look bad. They are all talented and each will make plays this year in my opinion.
Cornelius Ingram “C.I.” is just a beast to handle for a defense. Pick your poison having someone cover him. He is too big for defensive backs and too fast for linebackers. He has really blossomed into a great weapon.
On defense Markihe Anderson was the player of the day,. He broke up a couple of nice passes in one on one’s and had a sweet interception in the pass-skeleton, 7 on 7 drill. Anderson is not the biggest guy out there. As a matter of fact, he and Rickerson battle for the smallest of the returning scholarship players at the position. But, he is really aggressive and takes receivers out of their routes as good as anyone.
One thing about this group of defensive backs is that they are very fast. With the freshmen added I think this is a much faster group of DB’s than the Gators had last year as a whole. That bodes well for defense in the future.
Wondy Pierre-Louis looks really good and it is great to see him without a hamstring problem. He gets beat sometimes, but he has make up speed and size to dominate receivers.
Markus Manson is the thickest and a big corner by any standard. I really like his approach and think he also mixes it up well with the receivers. In my mind I think that is what Heater is looking for. He wants his DB’s to be disruptors at the front end of the play and cause the receiver to leave his route.
Rickerson is really quick and is a good player in his own right. I really like the set of corners this team has.
Kyle Jackson and Tony Joiner are real leaders out there and I think Jackson is doing enough to keep other from intruding on the starting job just yet. Joiner loves to mix it up and he is a very vocal leader.
The good thing is that behind those two are two solid guys in Jamar Hornsby and Dorian Munroe who is now wearing number 20. Both of those guys have really changed their bodies and look good running around and making plays.
The bottom line from watching the first day is the Gators are a really athletic team all the way across the board. Here are some key places I think a freshman can step up and play.
Running back is number one in my book. Not that Kestahn Moore will get unseated, but there is nothing behind him right now as it appears Chevon Walker may be in the doghouse again and Brandon James will miss some game time early in the season due to suspension. Freshmen Bo Williams and Chris Rainey need to get ready.
Offensive Line could use a Pouncey or two in the depth chart at guard. I think that is almost certain to happen.
Some of the freshmen defensive linemen will play, but I am going to give it another couple of days before I decide who it should be in my book.
I think Lorenzo Edwards will play significantly and early. I would even like a move of Edwards to start at Mike and maybe move Spikes out to Sam where he could also be an effective pass rusher from time to time. Edwards is a coach’s dream and just knows how to ply the game.
It is going to be hard to get a freshman safety on the field with the quality guys ahead of them right now, but crazier things have happened.
I like Joe Haden in the mix at cornerback. I think a group of Manson, Anderson, Pierre-Louis, Rickerson, and Haden is an excellent five pack of really athletic players.
As I approach the 2 a.m. hour writing this and have to be back on the field in three hours, I reserve the right to be wrong about any of my predictions. Thanks for reading.