Friday the mouths were running and so was the adrenaline. Saturday the pads go on so the jawing will stop and the popping will commence. There was talk everywhere and the offense showed up for the most part. Still, they showed some early spring blues with some drops and a couple of defeats to some defensive players. Here is how I saw it.
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In an effort to try and bring you more in depth coverage, we are going to split the offense and defense when reporting. Cody Jones and I will alternate after a few practices and switch sides of the ball, but we hope to bring you a better feel of what is going on out there.
I have the offense, and unfortunately most of the offense performs on the opposite field and even my binoculars aren’t much help with distance and big bodies in the way on the flat fields. Also, the fact that it was the last day in shorts, the running game was useless really to report on.
All of that said, there was some exciting stuff going on with the passing game, including some spectacular plays that we caught on video for you. There was a whole bunch of jawing going on with players anticipating the pads coming on Saturday. Here is what I took from the individual offensive positions on Friday.
Order: Tim Tebow (Jr.), Cam Newton (So.), John Brantley (R-Fr.)
What I Liked: In the team drills, Tebow threw two touchdowns in the first two passes. One was a look off deep ball to Louis Murphy. The second was a Percy Harvin crossing pattern that Percy took to the house and made one corner look silly in doing so. Tebow was much more on today than he was on Wednesday.
Brantley seems to really be picking up his receivers nicely and is often able to go through most of his progressions. He threw at least one pick today and I think two, but they are throws of aggression, and I like that from a freshman.
Newton showed off his rifle arm a few times today, connecting deep a couple of times right in time with the receivers.
What I Didn’t Like: Newton seems to get stuck throwing a couple of routes on the right side quite often, and now and then will wing one deep with great accuracy. Other than zoning in on them, he is hesitating more than the other quarterbacks, which means his progression reads aren’t where they need to be in terms of how quick he can run from receiver to receiver.
All the quarterbacks threw into middle of the field coverage at least once and the linebackers broke up a few of their passes, which speaks well for the linebackers.
Order: Kestahn Moore Sr.), Brandon James (Jr.), Mon Williams (So.), Emmanuel Moody (So.), Chris Rainey (R-Fr.)
What I Liked and Disliked: Lots of no comment here, because without pads on, there isn’t much to take from this practice. RB coach Kenny Carter told Franz Beard as much after practice today. They did run a running drill at practice offense vs. defense, but I took on the passing game instead that was run at the same time because it was more relevant. Saturday, when the pads come on, we will be able to tell more where the running game is.
Starters: Percy Harvin (Jr.), Louis Murphy (Sr.), Deonte Thompson (Fr.), Cornelius Ingram (Sr.)
Mixed Backups: David Nelson (Jr.), Justin Williams (So.), Carl Moore (Jr.), Aaron Hernandez (So.), Paul Wilson (Fr.), Cade Holliday (Jr.)
What I Liked: This group is so talented I think I could coach them to be All-Americans. Percy again made the difficult look easy almost all day today. He faked a couple of the best corners out of their underwear in seven on seven and one on one drills.
Murphy has assumed the leadership role and was getting his troops fired up today jawing at the defenders and then for the most part going out there and beating them.
Thompson is very smooth and runs so fast and effortlessly out there, he should be a star.
Those were the top three performers but the next guy would have to be Justin Williams. He quietly goes about his business, but in the first two days he has really performed well.
Cornelius Ingram looked like the old “CI” today catching a few balls and getting up the field quick for big yardage.
Hernandez, has looked solid both days.
Nelson made two spectacular grabs today and was pretty good as a whole. One was a one handed catch in traffic on a deep ball, then he spun to make a huge play out if it.
I had to mention Holliday, because all he continues to look solid among all the scholarship guys. He isn’t the biggest or fastest, but he has a ton of heart and is quick enough to play when called upon.
What I Didn’t Like: As talented as this group is, it looks like I coached them with all the drops they had today. Couldn’t be footsteps but there were drops from Harvin, Murphy, Thompson, Moore, Nelson, Hernandez, Ingram, and Wilson today. Way too many.
Murphy jawed one time after beating Haden and the next time up Haden put him on his butt at the line of scrimmage. The whole defense got all over Murphy.
There were far fewer times where the quarterbacks and receivers were not on the same page today, so that was an improvement.
Carl Moore wasn’t the same target today he was yesterday, but he did make a nice down field catch late in the team drills.
There was no Riley Cooper to be seen on the day. (probably baseball?)
Starters: LT Carl Johnson (So.), LG Jim Tartt (Sr.), C Maurkice Pouncey (So.), (RG) Mike Pouncey (So.), RT Jason Watkins (Sr.)
First reserve: RT Marcus Gilbert (So.) (then Watkins moves to LT and replaces Johnson)
Scholarship Backups: C Corey Hobbs (So.), G-T Jim Barrie (So.), Matt Patchan (Fr.)
What I Liked: Watkins is in great shape and showing great versatility starting at RT and then moving to LT when Gilbert comes in for reps on the first line. We can’t tell much from the offensive line, but one thing is the snaps have been great from all the centers so far. Carl Johnson and Marcus Gilbert seem to be doing a great job, but again, we will know more when they bull rushed and they can attack back tomorrow. James Wilson did not do anything with the offense when the defense was on the field
What I Didn’t Like: The depth is gone for now. With injuries to Phil Trautwein, James Wilson, and Matt Patchan there are four scholarship linemen that are not starting. On top of that Jim Barrie isn’t wearing his number 68 and I can’t find him on the field, although he was out there according to Coach Hevesy after practice. Matt Patchan is actually about 40 pounds away from playing offensive tackle in my opinion. He makes Tate Casey look fat.
Odds and Ends: Cody is reporting on the defense, but I thought I needed to say something I really noticed in two days. Dustin Doe broke up two passes yesterday in the passing drills. Spikes broke up one that was intercepted and then another that was almost intercepted today. Lorenzo Edwards has broken up passes both days of practice so far. I think the work with Chuck Heater in playing passing zones is paying off and rather early in spring drills.
K Caleb Sturgis (Fr.) made about six kicks in a row inside 48 yards including a 48 yarder. Then he missed his last four attempts at 53 yards. All of them were quite far enough, but missed right or left. He has a bazooka for a leg.
Louis Murphy and Joe Haden were all over each other today at practice and it turned into quite a two man show to watch. They each got the best of each other and you can see some of i on the highlight video.
Offensive Player of the Day: Percy Harvin. It’s a joke trying to guard him with one person.