April 12, 2014

Instant Analysis: O&B Debut



Ben Hill Griffin Stadium was home to the 2014 edition of the Orange & Blue Debut Saturday pitting the offense (blue) against the defense (orange). It ended with a 23-23 tie, all but 10 points scored in the first half. Instant Analysis takes a look.

THUMBS UP: The passing game had its moments, but the spread running attack was the biggest asset shown in Kurt Roper's offense. UF running backs combined for 231 yards and two touchdowns came on the ground. They did have the benefit of going against a short-handed and unproven defensive front, but Mack Brown, Adam Lane and Kelvin Taylor all had big moments. ... Austin Hardin was able to have a confidence-building kind of day. He made kicks from 43 and 42 yards in the first half, finishing the day with four made field goals after going 4 for 12 in 2013. Hardin did miss one extra point but did not split reps at kicker. ... The wide receivers coaches have praised this spring all showed up for the most part. Quinton Dunbar was a go-to target with three catches for 33 yards. Demarcus Robinson had the play of the day on a 31-yard touchdown and Chris Thompson had a touchdown catch of his own. Latroy Pittman showed flashes - two catches, 31 yards - and got most first-team snaps at slot receiver.

THUMBS DOWN: Florida's lack of depth at defensive tackle was put on full display. Darious Cummings, who continues to tend to a family issue, did not play, and Caleb Brantley went down early with an apparent arm injury. Jay-nard Bostwick was beaten most of the day and was little help against the run. Jonathan Bullard was a standout but he was alone. ... Roper talked this week about getting the ball out in less than three seconds. Jeff Driskel didn't get the memo. Driskel held onto the ball too long and waited for routes to develop most of the afternoon. Will Grier was better in this regard but had an early interception. ... After an outstanding spring, punter Kyle Christy simply didn't have it Saturday. He dropped the snap on his first attempt and averaged 43.3 yards the rest of the day.

-- FIVE WHO STOOD OUT --

1. Offensive guard Trenton Brown: The competition wasn't great, but Brown was dominant at right guard. When the Gators were running the ball best, it was behind Brown, who had a series of fantastic blocks.
2. Defensive tackle Jonathan Bullard: He was the only member of the defensive line to have a memorable day, busting past Tyler Moore into the backfield and having a couple "sacks" ignored by the scrimmage's referees.
3. Running back Mack Brown: All the running backs were good in certain spots but it was Brown who led the way with nine carries for 73 yards and one touchdown.
4. Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson: His touchdown catch was the highlight of the afternoon, but Robinson had two other catches as well. He was not put in nearly as advantageous of situations on either, however.
5. Linebacker Antonio Morrison: He and Jarrad Davis led the defense in tackles. Morrison also had a pass breakup.

PLAY OF THE DAY: Driskel rolled to his right and found Robinson on a crossing pattern headed toward the sideline. Robinson hit the brakes, but inside and shook Jabari Gorman en route to a 31-yard touchdown catch and run.

THIS AND THAT: To ensure there was not another Ronald Powell like incident, Florida elected to not play Dante Fowler Jr. and Vernon Hargreaves III to be sure its two best players did not get injured. ... Grier went 8 of 15 for 72 yards on the day. Skyler Mornhinweg was 14 of 18 for 149 yards and two touchdowns, 73 of those yards came on the final drive of the day against nine walk-ons. Driskel: 17 of 31 for 158 yards and one touchdown. ... Lane had the most carries: 12 for 64 yards.

Tune back in later today, over the weekend and into next as we recap the game as well as the rest of Florida's 2014 spring practices with notebooks, offensive and defensive observations, an expert look at the game, player and positional reviews and much more.

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