As the Gators host their annual coaches’ clinic, the practices turn into more of a show of drills for the high school coaches to see, than a normal practice. That is exactly what it was like on Friday as about 300-400 high school coaches from around the country were on hand to watch the National Champs practice. There was some news to report, good and bad.
The big news of the day was about injuries and the most devastating news of this short spring came when Head Coach Urban Meyer announced that running back Mon Williams will miss the rest of spring and most likely the entire 2007 football season due to a torn ACL injury he suffered on Wednesday.
In our report on Wednesday we told you that Williams was hit hard by A.J. Jones but able to shake off the hit after a while and insert himself in the next practice drill. Williams took one step in the running game drill and went straight to the ground without any contact. He was screaming in pain and everyone feared the worst. Friday, Meyer delivered the bad news.
“Mon has a torn ACL, it is a bad deal,” Meyer said. “He was really coming on. The negative is he will probably miss next year. I don’t know the healing process, but I do know that Ray McDonald came back from two (ACL tears). I have great confidence in our medical staff and great confidence in what kind of worker Mon is. The positive side is that we burned his red-shirt last year and in my opinion we probably shouldn’t have, but you never know… (So) he has a red-shirt available. We love Mon Williams, we care about him and he is going to be a terrific player for us. He is a high character guy.
One other player absent from duty and actually for the last few practices is red-shirt freshman offensive tackle Carl Johnson. Meyer is hopeful Johnson will be back soon.
“There is something with his stomach,” Meyer said. “It is some kind of bacteria and still not quite sure, but they are telling us he should be back out here Monday.”
There are lots of less severe injuries that are keeping a few players out of a practice here and there. Freshman cornerback Ahmad Black (hamstring) was taking reps in practice as well as sophomore cornerback Markihe Anderson (back). Wide receiver Riley Cooper is still out (foot) and cornerback Wondy Pierre-Louis did not participate in drills. Wide receiver David Nelson returned to the field Friday. He said after practice his wrist was sprained. He had it wrapped but participated in drills. Tight end Cornelius Ingram had a boot on his left foot today but is expected back soon.
“Cornelius Ingram they say will be here on Monday,” Meyer said. “We had Markihe (Anderson) back out here and the other guys are going. We are good other than Mon Williams.”
As mentioned above it was limited contact on the day so the reporting is kind of tough to do. That said, there were a few highlights.
Linebacker Dustin Doe and offensive guard Jim Tartt got into a nasty scuffle in the blitz drill. This drill usually looks very ugly for the offense as they are just practicing blocking multiple blitzes. When watching it, it seems the defense always dominates the drill.
When practicing kick off returns, Brandon James showed off his moves on the first kick return of the day. It left the high school coaches and the crowd a little surprised the way he maneuvered in traffic. Jarred Fayson did the same on the very next return.
In the running game drill, it certainly appeared that the defense got the upper hand on the offense. It is really hard to tell since they are not in full pads but shells (helmets and shoulder pads) and shorts. Knowing that, it seemed the defense was a little more smothering than it has been in the last few days.
In the 7 on 7 passing portion of practice Louis Murphy and Jarred Fayson really stood out, while it seemed the offense dominated the defense more than usual in this portion of practice.
Freshman quarterback Cam Newton had his best day throwing the ball. He is so much better without pressure on him, and they didn’t pressure him much today.
Again most of this was very vanilla without the full pads on. I suspect there to be a lot more to talk about tomorrow when I expect a full scrimmage in front of all these high school coaches.
In the team drill Fayson made the play of the day with a great leaping stab of the ball on a deep skinny post from Newton. Fayson is my player of the day followed closely by Murphy. Murphy had a drop that may have put Fayson over the top.
Percy Harvin made the second best play of the day when he caught a mid range ball, headed up field, slowed a little bit, then absolutely trucked Kyle Jackson and kept running. I think I have that one on video to show later.
Jacques Rickerson also made a couple of nice plays and was the highlight of the defense in my opinion. Rickerson is coming on after sitting out the first few spring practices with a knee injury.