We got our first glimpse of the action along the lines of scrimmage at the Gators practice session. There is little question that Steve Addazio, John Hevesy, and Greg Mattison saw a little bit of the good and bad with not as much of the ugly as they had seen from Florida’s reserves in past months.
That is exactly what I took away from yesterday’s session- the reserves along the offensive and defensive fronts were improved. I’m not talking two deep, just improved. It was a good effort on the first day of hitting and one the coaches had to feel pretty good about.
Offensively, the standout was without question right tackle Drew Miller. During man-on-man drills, Miller kept Derrick Harvey (twice), Javier Estopinan, Darryl Gresham, and Jermaine Cunningham from getting a sniff of the quarterback. In wouldn’t categorize it as dominating, but it was impressive.
On the opposite side of the line, Phil Trautwein had a pretty good time. He would have been much better if it hadn’t been for the defensive stalwart- Jarvis Moss. Moss gave him fits. Heck, Moss will give everybody fits this year. Traut beat Moss in their first meeting in the drill. However, Moss was in the backfield before Traut got out of his stance during their second rendezvous. Moss took the third meeting between the pair as well. Traut was also beaten once by Gresham. He did a fine job against Derrick Harvey though.
Defensive tackle Steven Harris came out with something to prove. He took out his frustrations by knocking offensive guard Carl Johnson back two or three yards and on his softerside. In his second attempt, Harris attempted a repeat performance on Maurice Hurt. He pancaked the offensive guard, but it lacked the dramatic flair of the Johnson’s grounding. I’d have still given it an eight and a half.
Personally, I thought that Joe Cohen had one of his finest practices as a Gator. He was solid in the man-on-man drill. Cohen, who is moving very well, blew by Hurt on his first attempt, Johnson on his second, and by Hurt again on his third and final attempt.
Marcus Thomas appeared to get better as the practice went along- and it went a long time. Thomas beat out Simon Codrington (twice) and Ronnie Wilson (twice). He blew by Codrington in their first meeting. Thomas lost his second meeting to Wilson, but finished the session when he roughed up Wilson on their final meeting.
Carlton Medder had one of his better performances as a Florida Gator. He beat three linemen, including Javier Estopinian, Lawrence Marsh, and Jermaine Cunningham. He was beaten by Darryl Gresham. Medder appears to have gotten much more intense coming off the ball.
Center Steve Rissler and reserve tackle Clint McMillan spilt their two battles. Rissler got the best of Lutrell Alford when he tried to get by the senior.
Jim Tartt sat out of the sessions. The coaches are still easing him into the fray. They are taking a much more cautious approach to his surgically repaired shoulder.
It was the first taste of college football for the young guys. Brandon Antwine got Jim Barrie on his heels during their first meeting. He got the best of Barrie twice today. As you might imagine, none of them stood out today against the veterans. They should improve tremendously in the coming weeks though.
They worked briefly in two-on-two drills. The defensive stunts were by and large successful against them though. One time the two defenders got crossed up and the play died before it ever got started. The offensive linemen stood there rather confused because the linemen were seemingly waiting on each other to step inside for the stunt to begin. Such is the case on the first day in shoulder pads.
When the team went into a brief running drill, the second team offense appeared to have some success pushing the defense backwards twice on runs up the middle. However, the defense got immediate pressure on Tim Tebow, who was forced to run several times.
The first offensive unit kept Leak free from pressure for the most part. They didn’t have the success running the ball that the second unit had though. The drill work was pretty short- more than two minutes, but they’re sure to get more work on this in the coming weeks.
Again, overall you’d have to say that it wasn’t a bad first day of hitting. I can certainly see why the staff is so optimistic of the first group on the offensive front. The second offensive line must pass protect better, but they gave good effort. This defensive front is going to be scary. Really scary.