Florida Gator open practice observations

Florida Gator football Spring Practice No. 10 is in the books and the sun and Florida heat was the fiercest it has been during open practices. At one point of the practice, tight ends coach Derek Lewis shouted “It’s football! It’s supposed to be hot, you’re supposed to be tired!” Despite the heat, the team had a high energy, up-tempo practice and Will Muschamp praised their effort and intensity when he gathered his squad up at the end of the morning session.

OL vs. DL

The defensive line won the day today. Alex McCalister, Neiron Ball and Jon Bullard overmatched the offensive tackles they went up against and Jay-nard Bostwick was a beast in one-on-one and half line drills. Bostwick is getting much better taking on double teams and he was disruptive all morning. Brad Lawing couldn’t heap enough praise on Bostwick who was also earning cheers from his teammates as well. Joey Ivie continues to grow and learn. He’s taking coaching a lot better than he has in the past and he looked like a sponge today. Lawing would get on him for a mistake one rep and praise him for correcting it the next rep. Rod Johnson and Tyler Moore had good days of practice and along with Max Garcia, the three of them had the best day of all the offensive linemen. I was very critical of Moore as a tackle last season but he’s found a home inside and has been very consistent this fall. D.J. Humphries is struggling against Alex McCalister, which, to me, is troubling. You need Humphries should be dominating players going into his third season and the Gators need him to really step up his game this season or he’s going to get Jeff Driskel hurt. Caleb Brantley, Khairi Clark and Gerald Willis are all young guys who should be able to get into the rotation and make an impact this season. Each of them has had shining moments this camp, Brantley and Clark with their sheer power and Willis with his speed off the edge. The second team offensive line is simply no match for the second team defensive line. Florida’s defensive line is becoming less of a concern for me, personally, but the offensive line is pretty thin.

Backup quarterback battle

Tuesday, Quinton Dunbar said Treon Harris finally feels like he gets the offense and it’s showing in practice. Harris looks much more comfortable and confident running things out there and is closing the gap that Will Grier held over him to start camp. Grier, right now, is having a better camp overall but I don’t think there is as much separation between the two quarterbacks as many people think. It’s definitely a close battle but the coaching staff needs to make a decision soon because the plan is to get the backup quarterback quality reps in the first game and that means that player needs to start getting the bulk of the second team reps, something the two quarterbacks are splitting right now.

WR vs. DB’s

In one-on-one drills the defensive backs won the day with Quincy Wilson, Jalen Tabor and JC Jackson all coming away with interceptions. Two of the passes could have been better but the youth at cornerback is certainly not going to be an issue this season. Florida did an incredible job recruiting the position last season and they’ve set themselves up for a couple years. Marcus Maye was out of the non-contact jersey that he has worn all camp and he made one of the best plays of the day. Maye was playing safety in Florida’s base 4-3 and came down to cover C.J. Worton. Maye blanketed Worton in coverage, tipped the ball as it was coming in and was able to stay with it, coming away with an interception. With Vernon Hargreaves taking it easy in practice, Tabor and Jackson continue to work as the first team cornerbacks but Jackson may be the most impressive freshman defensive back on the team. He’s still in a non-contact jersey but is as physical as any cornerback on the team.

Special teams

The kickers started practice off with live field goal drills and were shaky, yet again. Austin Hardin was probably the most consistent of the bunch but the group as a whole is not really inspiring confidence with their performances in practice. Johnny Townsend and Kyle Christy also went at it, trading reps in practice today. When Townsend and Christy had time to kick they both booted 50-60 kicks down the field. There were a lot of mishits from both punters on Wednesday but it looked like Coleman Hutzler was running them through a rushed motion to get them ready for when something could go wrong and they have to rush in a game. I would give the performance edge to Christy and Hardin today but both competitions are still too close to call.

Injury Notes

  • Marcus Maye was out of his orange non-contact jersey. Maye has been non-contact for most of the spring.
  • Adam Lane was out of the pit and into a non-contact jersey Wednesday. He went through positional drills but did not participate in 11-on-11 drills.
  • Duke Dawson missed another practice and was in the pit riding a stationary bike.
  • Trip Thurman missed practice and worked in the pit.
  • Vernon Hargreaves went through some drills today but did not take part in 11-on-11. There is no urgency to get Hargreaves back into practice. The staff knows what he can do and his absence from 11-on-11 is giving the staff a good look at the young corners.
  • Kelvin Taylor worked in the pit for a third straight practice.
  • Keanu Neal missed his first practice and worked in the pit.

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC


  1. Regarding punters and placekickers performance, was there any problems with the snapping portion of the operation? There has been some concerns about this recently so I wonder what is your current take on this.

  2. Let’s hope Humphries shapes up before the Alabama game, I’m pretty sure they’ll trot out someone better than McCalister. He wasn’t a good player last year. I’m beginning to wonder if he will ever live up to the hype. One other thing, has anyone seen the picture of the freshman defensive lineman at Kentucky? I don’t know if he can play a lick, but he looks frightening.