Gators practice notebook: Offense

Once teams combined for 11-on-11 work, it quickly became obvious what the Florida Gators’ offense will be like under first-year offensive coordinator Brent Pease.


No media interviews were allowed after Friday’s practice, but coach Will Muschamp gave a quote that typified the hurry-up style the Gators plan to employ under Pease.

“Get on the ball!” Muschamp shouted. “Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!”

The ball was snapped quickly during the first team session while the second and third seemed to slow down a bit while coaches coached. By our clock, most plays were ran 10-12 seconds from the moment the previous play was whistled dead. Players hustled all over the field and skill players were platooned regularly.

There was little loafing during the two-plus hour workout in shorts and helmets. At one point during the second team session, Muschamp caught defensive end Earl Okine not hustling off the field.

The second-year Florida coach laid into the redshirt senior — well within earshot of the crowd of a few hundred fans and dozen or so media members spread across the east side of the practice fields.

“Get your ass going!” Muschamp shouted to Okine as he labored toward the sideline. “Get him out … A wasted scholarship.”

For the first time in two years, Florida opened a practice — it’s second of the spring — on Friday. In addition to the fans and media, a handful of high school and college coaches were on the field as they were in town for a coaches’ clinic.

Most kept an eye on the quarterback battle between Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel. During pass skels and team drills throughout practice, Brissett took first-team snaps while Driskel handed second-team reps and Tyler Murphy quarterbacked the third team. Coaches noted earlier in the week that Brissett and Driskel would rotate reps with the first team each day.

• Brissett’s first pass of the day was on target as he hit Trey Burton in stride on a crossing pattern over the middle. Then during the first session of 11-on-11, Brissett worked out of a one-back spread formation for six plays. He completed 4 of 5 passes, including a tight spiral on a sideline route to Jordan Reed, who hauled in a leaping catch.

• Driskel also received six snaps during the opening team session. After Clay Burton dropped a pass on the first play, Driskel handed it off for the next four plays before completing a screen to freshman Latroy Pittman. Quarterbacks would get equal repetitions throughout the remainder team portions of practice. Pease spent plenty of one-on-one time with each quarterback after most plays as he continues to teach his offensive system.

• Pittman, who signed with Florida in December and enrolled in classes in January, worked out mainly with the third group of receivers, although he did see a few first-team snaps late in the practice. He should help the Gators with depth at that position.

• As far as the starting receivers, or at least those who lined up with the first team the most on Friday, it was Quinton Dunbar, Frankie Hammond Jr. and Andre DeBose with Clay Burton and Jordan Reed seeing the most time at tight end. The offense also ran a few four-receiver sets, although a running back was who split out most of the time.

• Running back depth has been a concern and Florida appears to have moved Chris Johnson to the offensive backfield. The sophomore from Ocala Trinity Catholic was signed as a safety and worked out at linebacker prior to this spring. Another spring experiment to aid in backfield depth has been Omarius Hines switching from tight end to running back. Hines looked the part when taking a handoff and also caught a short pass from Brissett.

• Mike Gillislee saw most of the first-team work at running back with Mack Brown and Trey Burton backing him up. Hunter Joyer was the main fullback when the offense lined up in pro sets.

• On Friday, the first offensive line group was Xavier Nixon at left tackle, James Wilson at left guard, Jonatthan Harrison at center, Jon Halapio at right guard and Chaz Green at right tackle.

• Matt Patchan is listed as a potential starter at both tackle positions on the spring depth chart, but he did not participate in the first half of practice. However, he didn’t appear injured when he returned later and was with the second team at right tackle. Patchan pushed a guy in a wheelchair out of practice after he and Sam Robey posed for a picture with the Gator-helmet toting fan.

• Freshman D.J. Humphries, who worked out with the second team at left tackle, still needs to add weight and actually looked slightly thinner than the 272 pounds that he’s listed at on the spring roster. Another true freshman lineman, Jessamen Dunker, did not participate in the team portions of practice. He did individual drills with a team trainer, but did not appear to be seriously injured.

• As far the offensive injury report, junior receiver Solomon Patton left the practice fields on crutches after suffering what appeared to be some sort of leg injury. Ian Silberman, a redshirt sophomore guard, sported a shoulder harness and is out for the spring after having surgery.

• Saturday’s practice will be the last one that’s opened this spring. It’s schedule to begin at 12:55 p.m. The Gators will wrap up spring practices with the Orange and Blue Debut at 1 p.m. on April 7 in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

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Mike Capshaw brings a wealth of experience to the Gator Country team. He’s been overseeing all editorial aspects of and Gator Country magazine by managing our team of staffers, interns and freelancers. He is now moving into a bigger role as a reporter by covering the football and basketball beats as well as providing coverage of all sports on campus. Mike’s 15 years in the business has included more than six years of covering SEC sports and recruiting at a daily newspaper in Arkansas. He has also helped launch a newspaper, magazines, websites and even a sports talk radio show. Because Mike puts family ahead of his career, he left the place where he was established when his wife received an opportunity to further her career at UF. He took a leap of faith that he could find a job in the Gainesville area and worked for a year at a newspaper group before joining the Gator Country family in November, 2011. Mike has won Florida Press Association awards for Best Sports Game Story and Best Sports Feature Story in the past two years as well as a company-wide award at his former newspaper group that includes some 60 publications, for Excellence in Sports Reporting. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeCapshawGC.