Thursday was a physical day for the Gators as they practiced for the first time in full pads. Chatter was abundant among opponents on the day and a lot of young players got reps as some older ones watched and guided them along. Some young players are really making a move to get some playing time.
The first day of full pads was really physical and they started off with the “Circle of Life” drill.
Ryan Stamper and Marcus Manson went first and fought hard to a draw. Kestahn Moore and Dustin Doe locked horns and Moore came out on top. DeShawn Wynn and Jon Demps was a toss up. Kestahn Moore and A.J. Jones squared off to a tie. Marcus Manson and Brandon Spikes and Manson won the battle. Marcus Gilbert and Corey Hobbs squared off twice. The first time was a whiff and Gilbert probably barely won the second battle. Lawrence Marsh and Carl Johnson squared off to a close battle won by Marsh. Maurice Hurt beat Darryl Gresham pretty good. The two threw some punches in the heated battle that followed. Lutrell Alford then got the best of Hurt.
Assessing the Running Drill…
After a bit of individual work, the defensive front seven squared off against the offensive running personnel. Since it was the first day in pads, the hitting was pretty good. There are a few plays on the video and watching that it is visible that the offensive line is opening some holes. It must be noted that Ray McDonald and Jarvis Moss didn’t participate in the drill, but most of the inside personnel was there. Here are some highlights.
For the most part DeShawn looked good. He still had a moment or to of indecisive running, but he ran hard most of the day and seems to have a slightly better gear to the outside than he had last year.
I know there were two plays where Marcus Manson broke through arm tackles and ran to daylight. That was a welcome site for Coach Drayton I am sure.
The ever reliable Kestahn Moore had a fumble and was forced to run extra after practice.
Brandon James looked ok in the drill but as better when the defense was spread out and it was the full team later in practice.
Tim Tebow had a couple of nice keepers.
On defense Derrick Harvey had a better day today. Steven Harris was physical inside as was Joe Cohen.
Brandon Spikes played really well and had a nice one on one tackle of the elusive James pretty deep in the backfield. He has really played well the last two days and is trying to take charge of the defense when Siler is not out there.
A.J. Jones explodes on people when he tackles. He did it a few times in the drill.
7 on 7 Passing Drill was bomb central…
If the quarterbacks were holding back on deep passes before Thursday, they let some loose in the 7 on 7 drill. Connections with Bubba Caldwell, Dallas Baker, Jemalle Cornelius, and a couple to freshman Riley Cooper all drew the praise from the coaching staff and the fans alike. Cooper had a good all around day today.
There were more deep passes that went incomplete both overthrown and dropped.
Percy Harvin will be the perfect H-back in this system. Watching him make people miss after catching the short passes out of the backfield is just flat out exciting. His added strength allows him to get away from one handed tackles.
Markihe Anderson had another impressive day covering receivers. Probably the least heralded of the freshmen cornerbacks, he is starting to make a name for himself this fall.
Good play at the linebacker spots came from Dustin Doe, Earl Everett, and a little from Ryan Stamper.
Again, Ryan Smith made himself known on the football field today in passing situations.
Reggie Nelson played first nickel with Reggie Lewis and Tremaine McCollum as starting corners in a nickel defense. That could change later if Ryan Smith keeps playing so well.
Offensive Line makes presence felt in team drill…
I think it was sealed blocks that really made the offense run well today. The linemen and other blockers really did their job continuing defenders and keeping them from the ball carriers. There were several decent runs, including Wynn’s 60 yarder that was the play of the day. There seemed to be a lot of defenders on their butts today as the blockers (including receivers and fullbacks) came to play.
Leak is really throwing well moving out of the pocket. If the protection continues on its current path of success, mixing in a rolling Leak will really help this offense gel.
As seen in the video, Cornelius Ingram has just become a natural in this offense. He has scary potential.
As mentioned by Coach Meyer, Brandon Spikes, Dustin Doe, and A.J. Jones will all play this year. They along with Jon Demps should be the corps of the linebacker unit for years to come.
Tony Joiner is vocal if anything. He will come up and hit someone and then let them know it was him that did it. He has been close to several interceptions this fall, but hasn’t quite come down with it. He should be solid at the strong safety spot.
I thought this was Derrick Harvey’s best day of the fall.
Five Guys That Surprised Thursday…
1. Riley Cooper – I listed him first because he has been absent in my reports and it is probably more my fault for not noticing him than his fault for not doing anything. He made two great long catches today and then really beat up the defensive backs he faced in the combat drill. He had a really good day.
2. Marcus Gilbert – Played a little second team today and constantly wins his 1 on 1 battles with defensive linemen he faces. Simon Codrington struggled today and Gilbert could be a guy on the move.
3. Brandon Spikes – He already has good size to play in the SEC. I watched him get his radar on Brandon James and swoop in for the tackle today. He made it look easier than most.
4. Markihe Anderson – The surprise of the secondary for two days running. He has good wheels and decent size. What a great story he and the next guy make.
5. Brandon James – This last guy has made the list for two days running now. More wiggle than a fresh worm on a hook, James also loves contact. Like Harvin, he is a fun player to watch.