The pads came on Saturday morning for the first time this spring. The Gators saw their first contact of the spring in a scrimmage to end practice.
QUARTERBACK: John Brantley has really impressed me through three days of practice with his ability to thread the needle with a pass and hit the receiver right in the hands. He had a perfect throw on the run today that showed how advanced he is. He was running to his right during seven-on-seven drills, and he hit Justin Williams with a perfect throw to his back shoulder for a 25-yard completion.
Trey Burton was hit or miss. He was the quarterback during one-on-one drills and made a majority of the throws. However, he also had some low moments, including an underthrown ball in the full scrimmage that was picked off by Jaylen Watkins at the goal line.
Burton’s highlight came in the short-yardage scrimmage. On fourth and one around midfield, Burton took off running to the right. His red jersey is supposed to signify non-contact, but Burton lowered his head on the defender and drove forward for the first down. This energized all of his offensive teammates.
RUNNING BACK: This was our first real look at this position with the pads on, and I thought Mike Gillislee had the best day. The sophomore had the run of the day during the short-yardage scrimmage when he bounced out of a few tackles and was finally brought down 20 yards later by the last defender. He also took a majority of the snaps at running back.
Emmanuel Moody had a few solid runs, but he seemed to be bottled up for the most part. A large reason for this was the defensive linemen seemed to spend the day in the backfield, and there just wasn’t enough room for Moody to make a cut and get up the field like we have seen him do in the past.
Jeff Demps was also at practice in street clothes, as he is focusing on track this spring.
At fullback, Steve Wilks also made a few catches out of the backfield during short yardage drills and looked comfortable catching the ball.
WIDE RECEIVERS: This wasn’t a position that got a ton of the spotlight on Saturday with the main focus being on the short yardage, however there were some new names that had breakout days.
Stephen Alli made a few nice catches. One came with Janoris Jenkins covering him, and Jenkins even had one of Alli’s arms held down, but he was still able to make the catch. He also ran a few comeback routes where he used his body to screen off the cornerback from having a chance to touch the ball. The most impressive play came when he caught a short out pass and weaved his way through the defense untouched.
Deonte Thompson also had a few nice catches, including a 12-yard touchdown catch on the first play in the scrimmage. He also caught a deep ball from Brantley on a stop-and-go route and maintained possession when Will Hill hit him hard.
Omarius Hines had probably his best day of the spring. He is deceptively shifty in traffic and forces the defenders to miss. When they do get a good look at him, he is shifty enough to make them miss.
TIGHT ENDS: I know it sounds like a broken record, but Jordan Reed will be an important part of the offense this year. He is so athletic and has good body control in the air to make the catches. His blocking wasn’t very good on short yardage snaps, but this is his first year at the position so it should improve.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Carl Johnson was again held out of practice, so James Wilson and Maurice Hurt started at the guard positions. Wilson had a good day. He pulled from his guard position a few times and looked more athletic than he did last season. He had a few crushing blocks that cleared out a hole for the running backs to pick up the first down.
David Young worked out at tackle but struggled with quicker pass rushers. Lerentee McCray sped by him on one snap, which caused Burton to step forward and get sacked. This has been the one knock on Young, and it’s what has made the Florida coaches look at him playing guard earlier in the year.
Sam Robey had a brace around his left knee again, but he did work on snapping to Brantley during the seven-on-seven drills. Kyle Koehne didn’t practice at all and had his right arm in a sling.