Today was one of those “I can’t believe this is March” weather days. It was extremely hot and sunny on the practice field and the play was hard but sloppy. The Defending National Champs showed some growing pains on both sides of the ball as they prepare the young guns for the 2007 season. Still, there were a few players that made strides and some may be ready to make a move.
Joe Cohen and Ray McDonald were on hand to push the young guys today and the Gators tried another round of the one on one combat drills that the crowd seems to love. Without going through the whole thing three players really stood out to me. True freshman tight end Aaron Hernandez is quite a handful for anyone it seems and continued to shine in the combat drill today. Red-shirt freshman safety Jamar Hornsby also continued with his aggressive play and I am hearing that he is really getting noticed by the staff for the aggressive play he is starting to show. Hornsby was exceptional during his man twice. Ronnie Wilson is the most dominating offensive linemen for the Gators. He plays low and is a warrior in the trenches. If a true 1-technique defensive tackle does not develop, I can see him moving there and doing a great job. He already plays nose guard in the short yardage situations.
Running Game Drills…
The offense dominated the defense today in the running game drills. It was nice run after nice run, really controlled at the line of scrimmage by the veteran offensive line. Drew Miller had several bad snaps was really angry at himself for that but otherwise, the offensive line mashed their way to many holes for the running backs.
7 on 7 Passing Drills…
Jamar Hornsby is coming into his own. In the 7 on 7 passing game, he almost intercepted a pass and as was mentioned earlier, he is playing very physical out there. He will be a great backup to Joiner for one year at strong safety, or has a chance to put a little weight on and be a big time linebacker.
Dorian Munroe will likely be one of the starters at safety in my opinion. I think Kyle Jackson is playing ok, but Munroe is more physically gifted and makes a play on the ball faster and stronger than Jackson does mos6t of the time.
Joe Haden and Markus Manson were starting at cornerback with Markihe Anderson and Wondy Pierre-Louis dinged up. Also Rickerson returned and did ok for himself. Meyer commented after practice that Rickerson has the best feet of all the corners, which is surprising with the way Anderson looks. Meyer also said that Rickerson, with his ability, has a chance to start if he keeps his head straight. That makes three solid corners in my mind as I think Anderson and Haden have really played well out on the field this spring.
Justin Williams ran a lot with the first group of receivers today. He is strong and provides a decent target to throw to.
Cam Newton threw a beautiful corner pass to Percy who took it to the house. Cade Holliday was open four times on the deep corner and caught three of them for long receptions.
In the nickel today free safety Dorian Munroe was inserted as the fifth defensive back instead of a cornerback. That is most likely due to all the injuries at corner. With that lineup and in passing downs, they took out A.J. Jones from the linebacker corps.
1st kick returners were Brandon James, and Kestahn Moore, then Mon Williams and Jarred Fayson, followed by Joe Haden.
When the teams met for the 11 on 11 part of practice, the offense went cold. The defense won the first ten or so plays before the offense had a positive play in the full squad drill late in practice. It was mainly the passing game, but it was a little disappointing for the offense as the defense went extremely aggressive and forced a lot of quick throws and errors.
On one play right tackle Carlton Medder was caught holding on defensive end Derrick Harvey big time, Harvey fought threw it and got the sack anyway.
Newton threw a beautiful bullet for twenty yards on a deep comeback on the right side, but for the most part he struggled again today, especially when under pressure.
Hornsby made a great break on the ball late in practice to break up a bullet pass from Newton to Aaron Hernandez right in the middle of the field.
Carl Johnson was out today and the offensive line rotation was a little different. Jason Watkins was playing a little bit with the first unit substituting for Carlton Medder at right tackle. Michael Pouncey was playing along the second team at right guard substituting with Corey Hobbs. With Johnson out, Jim Barrie got some work at second team left tackle. Second team center was Maurice Hurt and left guard was either Maurkice Pouncey or Corey Hobbs.
Louis Murphy missed a chance to make an impression when he dropped one of the few passes thrown his way late in practice.
What I liked…
Hornsby’s aggressive play was number one on my list for the day and he is my player of the day. The offensive line made huge holes like they haven’t done yet this spring when they practiced the running game. It was quite an impressive show and was missing with Saturday’s first contact practice.
I am continually impressed with Joe Haden at cornerback. I think he is going to be a really good one.
Justin Williams and David Nelson also get more kudos from this end.
Derrick Harvey was a man-child today, he was completely unblockable.
Aaron Hernandez continues to play tough and is a beast in one on one combat.
What I Didn’t Like…
Hernandez dropped a couple of passes today. He does seem to have issues with that.
The secondary looked really bad in the 7 on 7 drills today. Not many pass break-ups and continually beaten on long corner routes, sometimes run three or four times in a row. They are mix and match back there at this time, but there are some big issues until everyone gets healthy and experienced.