While Florida Gators basketball was participating in the 2013 SEC Tournament, the football team held a pair of open spring practices on Friday and Saturday that OGGOA was unable to cover at that time.
Below is a smattering of notes and opinions from the InsidetheGators.com staff, which was in attendance at the practice sessions and delivered six premium reports (as well as two free roundtable discussions) following the proceedings. Each tidbit below has been re-written by OGGOA, but the parts in quotation marks are the specified writer’s own words. Corresponding articles have been linked accordingly.
It is important to note that Friday’s gathering was a shirts-and-shorts practice while Saturday’s was the team’s first in full pads this spring.
FRIDAY, MARCH 15
» Sophomore right tackle Tyler Moore had a rough day overall and was beat off the edge consistently by some of Florida’s most talented rushers like sophomore Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr. and senior defensive end Dominique Easley. [Bryan Holt, InsidetheGators.com]
» In addition to senior wide receiver Solomon Patton, who took nearly all of the Gators’ jet sweeps when he was healthy in 2012, four other pass catchers got a chance to run the ball on that play including sophomore Raphael Andrades, junior Loucheiz Purifoy and freshman Demarcus Robinson. [Bryan Holt, InsidetheGators.com]
» Good news for redshirt senior WR Andre Debose who “showed flashes of the player Florida fans have wanted him to be for four years. Debose is as fast as ever and showed the kind of ball skills that have been missing on a jump-ball catch over Brian Poole.” [Bryan Holt, InsidetheGators.com]
DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS
» Redshirt freshman kicker Austin Hardin, a top recruit who did not play in 2012, “showed a strong leg” while nailing a pair of 47-yard field goal attempts that likely would have been good from well past 50 yards. He had two missed kicks on the day (including a block by redshirt freshman Alex McCalister) but looked to have a leg up on senior Brad Phillips in the kicking competition. [Bryan Holt, InsidetheGators.com]
» Sophomore LB Antonio Morrison threw sophomore tight end Kent Taylor to the ground at one point during practice. Head coach Will Muschamp went off on Morrison as the players were not wearing pads. “[Muschamp] sprinted right up to Morrison and yelled in his face, ‘You think you’re a tough guy? Huh? Eff that!’” [Bryan Holt and Jesse Simonton, InsidetheGators.com]
» Though he did not participate in practice, redshirt junior Buck LB Ronald Powell was on the field and did some running drills with a Florida trainer.
» Redshirt senior cornerback Jeremy Brown appears to have lost much of his athleticism due to the multitude of injuries he has suffered over his career. He “lacks lateral quickness and struggles to locate the ball in the air.” [Jesse Simonton, InsidetheGators.com]
» Debose and junior CB Marcus Roberson appear to be first in line at punt returner.
» Most of the secondary was impressive. The Gators should not have a problem finding starting safeties and rotation players though none have been officially named yet.
SATURDAY, MARCH 16
» Both scholarship reserve quarterbacks – redshirt junior Tyler Murphy and redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg – struggled in their own ways. Neither has made enough of an impression to be considered the sure-fire back-up at this point. [Bryan Holt, InsidetheGators.com]
» After a so-so day on Friday, sophomore running back Matt Jones really impressed on Saturday. “[He] showed agility and quickness throughout the day. He froze Dante Fowler, Jr. on a strong toss and held his own both in blocking and as a receiving option out of the backfield.” [Bryan Holt, InsidetheGators.com]
» Similarly, Purifoy struggled on Friday but showed out in a big way on Saturday, “flaunt[ing] his after-the-catch skills and knack of snagging the ball at its highest point, but his route running and position concepts remain a work in progress.” Muschamp previously said that is the exact reason why Purifoy is spending the first seven days of spring practice at wideout. [Jesse Simonton, InsidetheGators.com]
» Redshirt junior Gideon Ajagbe has the eye-test lead to back-up junior fullback Hunter Joyer. “Ajagbe doesn’t look like your average fullback, but he held his own blocking as well as any UF back Saturday.” [Bryan Holt, InsidetheGators.com]
» Debose may have looked good in practice Friday, but he was back to his normal inconsistent self on Saturday. Effort is the key for Debose.
DEFENESE / SPECIAL TEAMS
» Though Morrison was yelled at on Friday, he “is the budding alpha male on Flroida’s roster and that was clear as the pace of practice picked up as Saturday. Morrison is looked to as the vocal leader of a young linebacker corps and has no problem providing that whether his teammates always want to hear it or not.” [Bryan Holt, InsidetheGators.com]
» Freshman LB Alex Anzalone injured his right shoulder after being run over by Taylor on a play. Muschamp announced on Tuesday that Anzalone had shoulder surgery and will miss the remainder of the spring.
» Freshman DE Joey Ivie “made plenty of noise Saturday” when he went head-to-head with sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries and blew him up twice, “knocking his helmet off once.” [Bryan Holt, InsidetheGators.com]