August 12, 2014

Tuesday Practice: In-depth defensive observations

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On Tuesday Florida football players took to the field at Dizney Lacrosse Stadium in a light drizzle for Florida's fifth open practice. As the rain started to come down harder the players began showing more enthusiasm and energy. Here are the in-depth defensive observations from Tuesday's practice.

DEFENSIVE LINE

The defensive line saw changes in the rotation and young players earned playing time during 11-on-11 drills.

- Sometimes there's practices like the one Monday, where the defensive linemen can't be as physical and it favors the offense. Today was not one of those days. Dante Fowler Jr. reminded everyone of his explosive ability as he burst into the backfield and hit redshirt senior running back Mack Brown so hard that the ball popped out. He recovered the fumble and put his arms up like a plane and flew to the end zone. Two plays later Fowler Jr. beat his man again and would have had a sack on redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel if not for his red non-contact jersey. Fowler Jr. also played a little rough as he bumped redshirt sophomore quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg after a play was over.

- A lighter moment involving Fowler Jr. was when he lined up at nickel jokingly, before returning to the line of scrimmage.

- While Fowler Jr. continued doing what he does best, sophomore Joey Ivie was breaking into a new role. You could hardly tell Ivey was recently moved to defensive tackle from end. Ivie has become a fun player to watch because he doesn't stop hustling. During an offensive line vs defensive line drill he fought off his double team and got through. During 11-on-11 situations he played with the first team and hounded Driskel out of the pocket and chased him all the way to the sideline. Ivie was also a force in stopping the run, but struggled a few times drawing the ire of head coach Will Muschamp.

- Redshirt freshman Jordan Sherit lined up at the BUCK position. While he had found success against freshmen David Sharpe in the past, he struggled when going up against veteran D.J. Humphries.

- Redshirt sophomore Jeremi Powell also lined at the BUCK position and had the task of getting past Sharpe. Although Powell was at a six inch and 100 pound disadvantage, the two looked evenly matched. Powell got the better of Sharpe one play, blowing by and forcing the quarterback to scramble. The following play Sharpe gave Powell no room to operate. Powell was so frustrated that he and Sharpe started shoving one another.

- Redshirt freshman Jay-nard Bostwick had a good practice. He really seemed to explode off the line and get a good push into whoever was guarding him. He pushed so hard one play that the running back had to stop and try to cut back the other way with no success.

- Junior Jonathan Bullard had a very slow day. His best play was during 11-on-11 drills when freshman quarterback Treon Harris attempted a designed run play and Bullard swallowed him up, giving the freshmen a taste of a Southeastern Conference type hit.

- Redshirt sophomore Bryan Cox Jr. was in an orange non-contact jersey due to a shoulder injury. He spent most of practice in the pit. He was joined there by freshman Thomas Holley (who will have a second surgical procedure), who spent all of practice in the pit on a stationary bike, and redshirt sophomore Alex McCalister.

LINEBACKERS

The rotation at linebacker is really starting to take shape from the unit that was the most vocal at practice.

- When it comes to players being hyped up after a play, you can be sure junior Antonio Morrison at the heart of it. Morrison was all over the field during 11-on-11 drills. He was active at the line of scrimmage, helping stuff runs. Morrison was also effective in pass coverage, forcing a dropped pass.

- Redshirt senior Neiron Ball had a good practice at the line of scrimmage. He was able to show off his speed on a would-be sack. Ball was also good at stuffing runs and being a physical presence at the line when he needed to be.

- The linebacker rotation is becoming clearer as redshirt senior Michael Taylor, Ball and Morrison appear to be the starters, with Morrison on the bench during nickel formations.

- Jarrad Davis, Alex Anzalone and Daniel McMillian are the top three options off of the bench.

SECONDARY

After a rough couple of practices where they were being burnt by the long ball, the secondary gave up less big plays, but continued to struggle overall.

- Freshman Jalen Tabor began practice taking first team reps. He gave up a touchdown to sophomore wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood and wasn't seen after that. He spent the rest of practice doing drills and working in the pit.

- After struggling last practice, freshman J.C. Jackson appeared to have his groove back - though he did struggle early on in one-on-one situations, getting beat by both Demarcus Robinson and Quinton Dunbar. During 11-on-11 scrimmages he batted down a pass and contained runs that bounced to the outside. While he did give up a long completion to Fulwood, he was in fantastic position, Fulwood simply made a better play.

- Junior Brian Poole has really struggled defending intermediate and long pass attempts. Poole got beat for a long completion very early on in practice. As practice went on it became very clear that he excels mostly in short situations. He had an interception on a short route that he jumped. When he lined up at nickel has also sealed off runs and made tackles at the line of scrimmage.

- Sophomore Vernon Hargreaves III made his return to practice in an orange non-contact jersey after suffering from a bone bruise in his knee. Hargreaves did not participate in 11-on-11 drills or one-on-one drills, but was very active during drills. He was running at full speed and didn't appear to take any drill at half speed.

- Freshman Quincy Wilson continues to struggle in coverage. He continuously tries to make a big play instead of making the smart play. He will give up big catches because he misses an interception or fails to bat down a pass. He got beat by sophomore wide receiver Chris Thompson early on in practice. Wilson was part of a designed cornerback blitz that failed because the offense ran a screen play to the other side of the field.

- Freshman Deiondre Porter also continued to struggle. While Porter constantly finds himself in good position, receivers always find success against him. When the defense had control of the 11-on-11 scrimmage, the offense found their rhythm with back-to-back completions against Porter.

- Redshirt freshman safety Nick Washington was the victim of a fade route in the end zone by Dunbar that resulted in a touchdown.

- Redshirt sophomore Marcus Maye spent practice at both safety and nickel.

- Freshman Duke Dawson spent practice in the pit riding a stationary bike due to a shoulder injury.

THIS AND THAT

- During 11-on-11 drills Fowler Jr. had a funny moment as he jogged onto the field and noticed that the entire defensive line was still on the sideline. He looked back at them and put his hands up urging them hurry up and get on the field.

- The defense was extremely active all of practice and seemed to be having fun the entire day.



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