The second day of pads saw the Gators go a little easier than day one. There was no “Circle of Life” drill and no combat drill in front of the fans. They did square off in the running drill and practiced running and protecting against blitzes. Overall it was a pretty non-exciting day for the last open practice to the public, but we were there to cover it for you.
The running drill, which we used to call 7 on 7 back when I worked for the Spurrier staff, was pretty even. With an actual nine defenders on the field and usually against eight on offense if you count the quarterbacks, there was a lot of head banging. There were three major things I could draw out of the drill.
* The first team offensive line is really coming around and making it harder and harder for the first team defense to get the best of the offense.
* Maurice Hurt was starting with the first unit at left guard all day today and played pretty well. This matched up with my report yesterday that Simon Codrington did not perform well in the 1 on 1 combat sequences in front of the fans.
* The second team offensive line is no where ready to go. That is to be expected with a deeper and more veteran defensive front they are facing.
The Gators practiced a little bit of kick off return and Brandon James took the first full contact return all the way back for a touchdown. He was untouched. DeShawn Wynn got his bell rung in the kickoff return drill and never returned. Kestahn Moore and Brandon James were first returners. Percy Harvin and Nyan Boateng were second. Jarred Fayson and Chevon Walker were with the third group.
There wasn’t a whole lot to talk about in the 7 on 7 passing drill. One exception was Dallas Baker had a wide open bomb that he just plain dropped.
The Gators then practiced blitzing and protecting against the blitz. It was usually very ugly for the offense as the defense routinely smoked their way into the backfield. Reggie Nelson absolutely leveled Kestahn Moore on one blitz. Coach Mattison mocked Kestahn yelling out as if he were Moore, “Reggie what did I do to you?!!” If the defense sends more than one extra guy it was lights out every time. The defense is going to be horrifically fast this year.
The two-minute drill finished the day’s practice. The offense starts about the 20 yard line and drives the field. They generally do not worry if a pass is caught or not, they continue to move the chains to put everyone in different situations on the field.
On the first play of the full offense vs. full defense, Leak rolled right and in perfect sync his Andre Caldwell for about a 15 yard out route. Earl Everett was flying from the back side on a blitz, but Leak got it away before Everett could touch him at all. Caldwell got matched up with another linebacker on the play, a complete mismatch, and this in essence is what the offense is all about. It was a very well timed play and I think a real sign of things to come.
Late in team drills, Lutrell Alford was getting a good deal of work with the first team at defensive tackle.
On the day Percy Harvin got smacked twice during contact and dropped both balls intended for him on those plays. I know one of them was Dorian Munroe, who continues to play well.
Top Five Daily Good Surprises…
1. Maurice Hurt – He has to be on here. If Jim Tartt were not able to play, I think Hurt would get the start at left guard right now. If I am not mistaken he would be the first true freshman since Reggie Green and Jason Odom to start as a true freshman. It is probably a good thing he was an early enrollee.
2. David Nelson – He had another good practice after starting the fall off great and slipping the last two days. Nelson has really improved his body control, which is probably difficult for someone his size. Right now, I think he is probably the fifth receiver behind Baker, Caldwell, Jemalle Cornelius, and Kenneth Tookes.
3. Brian Crum – I am going to put him on here after Coach Strong’s comments at media day. Evidently Crum has been the defense’s most improved player. That is saying something with the way Joe Cohen, Tony Joiner, and Reggie Lewis have played this fall.
4. Nyan Boateng – He shouldn’t be forgotten. He has some physical tools to compete and made a couple of very nice grabs in traffic today during the 7 on 7 passing drill.
5. Dorian Munroe – His name keeps coming up and he is one that just shows up around the ball. He really whacked Percy Harvin the one time and made him cough up the ball.
Thanks for joining us at Gator Country during the week of fall practices! I hope you enjoyed our unparalleled coverage. Stick around – there’s much more of that throughout football season and recruiting season.