Florida Gators open practice report: 8/11/18

For the first time this fall the Florida Gators opened an entire practice to the media. We are limited in what we can report (formations, scheme, injuries, etc…) but an entire three-hour practice was certainly revealing.

Below are Gator Country’s highlights and notes from the Gators’ open practice on August 11.

Gator Drill
Practices start differently than this season. Gone are Swamp Jacks and fastball, now the Gators start with an old fashioned Oklahoma Drill that this staff calls “Gator Drill.”

This drill pits offense vs. defense and is essentially a goal line stand drill with three defenders and three offensive players including a ball carrier. The offense gets three reps to get to the sideline (score).

Franks got the first reps going against mainly defensive backs. Antonneous Clayton was on the field and he collapsed the line to stop Franks short. Trey Dean hit Franks, yes quarterbacks were live for this drill, but he spun off and powered his way through for a score. (video below)

Kyle Trask was up next. He faced a defense comprised of all linemen and linebacker and didn’t push through like Franks did, understandably given the personnel.

Trask handed off to Malik Davis, who followed a pancake block by Trevon Grimes for a score. (Video below)

Field Goals
Next up the competition to replace Eddy Pineiro waged on. It was hard to tell exactly from the angle where the media was able to stand but we pooled together to come up with a consensus for field goals. (below, yardage in parenthesis). The kicks were all live action/hitting.

Evan McPherson
1 good (31)
2 good (31)
3 close (36)
4 good (43)
5 good (48)
6 good (53)

Jorge Powell
1 good (36)
2 good (36)
3 close (36)
4 good (43)
5 good (48)

After this were individual drills and routes on air. It was a slow start for the quarterbacks and a mixed bag accuracy wise to start. They did get better as they day went on.

Special teams drills followed. The team worked a full 11-on-11 kickoff drill. This coaching staff has put a huge emphasis on special teams work.

Dre Massey, Tyrie Cleveland and Adarius Lemons were returning kicks with Van Jefferson as the up man.

The teams moved half line drills. That’s when half of the field is being worked on. Two receivers, a running back, two defensive backs and a linebacker. It’s a way to have the quarterbacks begin to look through progressions with only half of the field to go through.

All three quarterbacks were much more accurate her than they were early on.

Feleipe Franks connected with Van Jefferson, who put a really good double move on Brian Edwards for a deep connection.

Franks found Jaylin Jackson (note on him later) on a great corner route. Franks showed really nice touch to drop in in.

Franks hit Grimes on a deep pass later as well. Grimes beat Shawn Davis on the play.

Marco Wilson had great coverage on Daquon Green, tipped the pass and intercepted it on the sideline. A very athletic play by the sophomore. Franks only other options other than trying to squeeze it in would have been to run or throw it away. He still has a huge arm and he trusts it, sometimes to a fault, but he had a good day overall.

After the half line drill was a simulated half time/water break.

Not for the quarterbacks. The whole group ran gassers during the 10-minute break. Dan Mullen and Billy Gonzales ran along side them.

The team came back to 7-on-7 passing work.

Franks was on target for most of the drill. He thread the needle on a completion to Jefferson and connected with R.J. Raymond, who went down to the ground to get the low pass. Franks tried to connect with Kemore Gamble on a wheel route but Chauncey Gardner-Johnson was all over it, tipped pass.

Kyle Trask was up next. His first pass was lofted a bit too much to Lucas Krull, who had slipped past a linebacker, Krull came down with the ball but was hit instantly and dropped the pass. Trask underthrew a short pass and scrambled to end his reps.

Emory Jones replaced him in the drill and hit Jefferson on his first pass with a nice throw. Gamble dropped the next pass before Jones badly underthrew a wide open Rick Wells.

Franks’ next series showed some of the same things that plagued him last year. On his last rep he was forced to scramble to create because of good coverage, he threw off of his back foot downfield and into coverage. He should have kept it and used his legs.

QUARTERBACK OVERVIEW
Franks had the best day of the three quarterbacks. From the very beginning of practice during Gator Drill he set the tone and the intensity. He’s really well liked by his team, which you can see by the way he interacts with everyone during practice. It seems that he fully comprehends the competition he’s in and he’s constantly hustling from drill-to-drill and trying to make the most out of his reps.

A few practices ago Trask threw a ball and started shaking his right hand. He talked to Mullen right after that rep but finished practice. On Saturday he had his hand/finger taped and used a glove off and on throughout the practice. He doesn’t seem to be right and it’s affecting his accuracy.

Jones had a mixed day but he’s clearly behind the two older quarterbacks. He’s an electric player but his inconsistency passing the ball will keep him from really pushing for the starting spot. We fully expect him to play this season and for Mullen to have designed plays and packages for him, just not as a starter, at least early on.

NOTES: Quincy Lenton and C.J. Henderson were not at practice. That left the defensive back. Jeawon Taylor was at practice but didn’t participate from what we could tell. That gave Shawn Davis a lot of reps at safety.

C’yontai Lewis (unknown) and Brett Heggie (foot) were in the pit and did not participate at practice.

Starting OL (L-R): Martez Ivey, Tyler Jordan, Nick Buchanan, Fred Johnson, Jawaan Taylor
2nd Team OL (L-R) Stone Forsythe, Christopher Bleich, Nick Villano, Kavaris Harkless, Noah Banks.

Linebackers
The redshirt freshmen linebackers are violent. Ventrell Miller and James Houston both had very good days and looked good in pass coverage as well.

Receivers
Jefferson is clearly the go-to guy at receiver. He’s so polished as a route runner and has good hands. He’s developed chemistry with his quarterbacks and they’re always looking for him.

Trevon Grimes is another huge addition to the receiver room.

Preferred walk-on Jaylin Jackson continues to look good in his reps, which mainly come against the third team. Jackson was a late addition on signing day but the small, shifty high school quarterback turned receiver has looked good. He’s regularly one of the last players to leave the field after practice, staying behind to catch balls from the JUGS machine.

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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