Florida to hire Greene as new strength coach

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan is set to hire the fourth new member of his basketball staff this offseason.

A source close to the team told OGGOA Tuesday morning that Donovan will hire Preston Greene as the the Gators’ basketball program’s new strength and conditioning coach.

Greene will replace veteran strength and conditioning coach Matt Herring, who left Florida to take the director of athletic performance job with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs last week.

A Clemson graduate, Greene has spent the last three seasons with his alma mater as its assistant strength and conditioning coach who led the efforts for the men’s basketball team. He has 10 years of experience running strength and conditioning programs with prior stops at both Stanford (2008-09) and Charlotte (2003-08).

Herring was the fourth member of Donovan’s staff that he has been forced to supplant in the last few months. All three of his assistants left after the 2010-11 season for other jobs and were replaced with former Gators assistant and Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey, former St. John’s head coach Norm Roberts, and former Florida director of basketball operations and Florida Atlantic assistant coach Matt McCall.

Did implicated players receive NCAA immunity?

When Yahoo! Sports released its extensive report on the illegal benefits scandal surrounding the Miami Hurricanes, seven players who were neither current nor former members of the team were also implicated. Among them were Florida Gators redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose and redshirt junior right tackle Matt Patchan.

On Thursday the University of Florida, after receiving approval from the NCAA, announced that both players were eligible for the 2011 season even though they were named in the report and may have received some form of improper benefits.

“We have been in communication with the NCAA and there are no eligibility issues with Andre Debose and Matt Patchan as it relates to recent reports. Andre, Matt nor the University of Florida will have any additional comments regarding this matter.”

According to CBSSports.com, the NCAA’s decision to approve the eligibility of Debose, Patchan and a number of other players named in the report may have been due to the organization using it’s “limited immunity” clause.

“Limited immunity” is a little-known procedure granted to NCAA investigators to get information from a player “when such an individual otherwise might be declared ineligible for intercollegiate competition,” according to the NCAA Manual.

The NCAA’s vice president of enforcement Roe Lach, without being overly specific, told CBSSports.com‘ Dennis Dodd that her organization did take a special step in order to move forward with its investigation.

“The enforcement staff has been given, by the membership, a pretty important investigative tool,” Lach said. She added that they are able to use said tool “when we think that’s really our only shot of getting that information.”

While no one at the NCAA will confirm that limited immunity has been used in this case, one source close to the investigation told CBSSports.com that “apparently they chose to give these guys limited immunity … which means they’re all eligible.”

It is unknown whether or not the NCAA specifically used this concept with Debose and Patchan or if the organization simply determined that neither was involved to an extent that was worth pursuing considering the extreme breadth and depth of its investigation.

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Preseason 2/4

With the 2011 NFL preseason officially underway, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 2 action, some of whom had an impact on their team’s performance. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the second exhibition week of the 2011 campaign.

TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Three receptions for 42 yards, touchdown (long: 16)

LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Tackle
LB ANDRA DAVIS, Buffalo Bills: Three solo tackles, pass defense
WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills: Played as a reserve
OL JASON WATKINS, Buffalo Bills: Played as a reserve
FS MAJOR WRIGHT, Chicago Bears: Four solo tackles
WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Cincinnati Bengals: Two receptions for a team-high 50 yards (long: 39, targets: 4)
S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: Solo tackle for loss, pass defense
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Three solo tackles, pass defense
OT PHIL TRAUTWEIN, Cleveland Browns: Played as a reserve
DE DERRICK HARVEY, Denver Broncos: Solo tackle
QB TIM TEBOW, Denver Broncos: 1/2 for 10 yards, rush for seven yards
DL JEREMY MINCEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Team-high three solo tackles
LB BRANDON SILER, Kansas City Chiefs: Three tackles (two solo)
DT GERARD WARREN, New England Patriots: Solo tackle for loss
DE ALEX BROWN, New Orleans Saints: Two tackles (one solo)
G COOPER CARLISLE, Oakland Raiders: – Started at right guard
WR CHAD JACKSON, Oakland Raiders – Played as a reserve
DE JARVIS MOSS, Oakland Raiders: Two solo tackles, sack
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: Reception for 16 yards (targets: 3)
C MAURKICE POUNCEY, Pittsburgh Steelers: Started at center
DE RAY MCDONALD, San Francisco 49ers: Two tackles (one solo for loss)
FB EARNEST GRAHAM, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Two receptions for 12 yards (long: 7, targets: 3)
WR JABAR GAFFNEY, Washington Redskins: Reception for 19 yards (targets: 2)
QB REX GROSSMAN, Washington Redskins: 7/12 for 88 yards and an interception

C MIKE POUNCEY, Miami Dolphins: Started at center
OT MARCUS GILBERT, Pittsburgh Steelers: Played as a reserve
SS AHMAD BLACK, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DNP (high-ankle sprain)
OG MAURICE HURT, Washington Redskins: Played as a reserve

LB DUKE LEMMENS, Arizona Cardinals: Played as a reserve
LB BRANDON HICKS, Buffalo Bills: Tackle
DE JUSTIN TRATTOU, New York Giants: Three tackles (two solo)
P CHAS HENRY, Philadelphia Eagles: Punt for 53 yards

DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals: Knee
DT MARCUS THOMAS, Denver Broncos: Pectoral
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings Ribs
LB JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots: Undisclosed
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: Undisclosed (ankle)
WR LOUIS MURPHY, Oakland Raiders: Hamstring

PRESEASON: Week 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

FOUR BITS: Martin transfers, Haden, Caquatto

1 » For the third time in his post-high school career, former Florida Gators defensive end/linebacker Chris Martin is putting on a different uniform. According to the Palm Beach Post, Martin joined the Navarro College Bulldogs over the summer and is set to play defensive end for the team this fall. The former five-star recruit, who first enrolled at California before transferring to Florida and choosing to leave the team following his redshirt season in June, will likely look to go the Cam Newton-route and spend a year at Navarro before moving on to a more prominent program.

2 » The word “fan” is derived from the longer term “fanatic,” and perhaps no individual can stake a greater claim to that title than Don Crews, who was profiled by Florida Today in a piece over the weekend. Set to attend his 500th Florida game on Sept. 3 when UF takes on Florida Atlantic, Crews lives 171 miles away from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium but has managed to attend nearly every game since 1963.

3 » Much has been said about Cleveland Browns second-year cornerback Joe Haden truly embracing the city of Cleveland, OH ever since he was selected by the Browns with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. A recent story by The Cleveland Plain Dealer dives into the topic even deeper. “What else would I be doing — sitting at home by myself?” Haden joked when asked why he does so much for his fans. “It’s all about giving back, and at the same time, it’s so much fun. […] It’s really easy to do, honestly. Even if I didn’t play football, I’d be doing all this stuff. I’m just trying to have a good time and make sure everyone knows I care about this city and appreciate the fans.”

4 » Congratulations are in store for Florida sophomore gymnast Mackenzie Caquatto, who finished in fourth place at the 2011 Visa Championships in the senior all-around competition and second place in the uneven bars on Saturday. Due to her placement in the all-around portion of the event, Caquatto earned a spot on the U.S. Senior National Team for the fourth-straight time.

Florida soccer starts 2-0 with two wins in Miami

With the triumphs of last year now in the rear-view mirror, it was up to No. 9 Florida Gators soccer to get the 2011-12 athletic season off with a bang. Florida (2-0) accomplished this feat over the weekend, defeating the Miami Hurricanes (0-1) and Florida International Golden Panthers (0-2) with a pair of 2-0 victories in Miami, FL.

The Gators opened the season on Friday against the Hurricanes and took it to their in-state rivals right from the get go. Sophomore forward Taylor Travis scored Florida’s first goal of the season at 37’, and freshman midfielder Havana Solaun tacked on another at 51’ to lead the Gators to victory.

Junior MF/F Erika Tymrak got the assist on both goals, setting up a cross for the first score and passing it from the top of the box to the left side for the second.

Before returning to Gainesville, FL for a week of practice, Florida stayed in town, took a day off and faced FIU on Sunday. Like their first match of the season, the Gators scored once in each half and came away with a 2-0 win.

Freshman F Tessa Andujar placed the first one in the net, converting a cross from senior defender Jazmyne Avant in the 40th minute. Joining her on the scoreboard was senior MF/F Tahnai Annis, who corralled a through pass from freshman MF Annie Speese and struck it in from 12 yards out at 63’.

Florida split up the goalkeeping duties over the weekend with senior Brooke Chancey (five saves) and freshman Taylor Burke (three saves) each registering a shutout while playing the full 90 minutes.

The Gators will continue their road trip with a pair of contests next weekend in Knoxville, TN. Florida will take on Texas A&M on Friday and UCLA on Sunday before returning to the University of Florida for a three-game homestand.

8/20: Muschamp discusses injuries, names position leaders, rewards walk-ons

With the Florida Gators now having completed training camp and headed into fall practice, head coach Will Muschamp met with the media early Saturday to provided updates on how the team is progressing on both sides of the ball heading into the 2011 season, which begins on Sept. 3 at home against Florida Atlantic.


As allegations from a Yahoo! Sports report suggesting he could have been involved in the illegal and illicit recruiting of players while with the Miami Hurricanes, Florida wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Aubrey Hill received a vote of confidence from Muschamp on Saturday. “I’ve talked to Aubrey after the article came out. I feel very comfortable with he and I’s conversation,” he said. “I support Aubrey 100 percent. I’m glad he’s here at Florida, and that’s all I’m really going to comment on.”


Confirming a report from the Independent Florida Alligator, Muschamp noted that redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown has indeed been out with a knee injury but is respected to return to practice next week. “I expect him probably next Wednesday or Thursday of next week,” Muschamp said.

He also said that redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley got the day off to rest his sore back and will return to action for the team’s scrimmage on Wednesday, while redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed returned to practice Saturday after missing 3-4 days for a sore hamstring. “[Brantley] has had a very productive camp,” he said. “We felt like Wednesday’s scrimmage was much more important as far as progressing our offense further to get ready for game plan than this one and if we needed to take a day off, [Saturday] was the best day to do it.”


Plenty of positions are up for grabs this fall due to graduations, players leaving early and the new coaching staff implementing difference schemes than a year ago. On Saturday, Muschamp explained that a few more starting jobs have been coming into focus over the last week of camp.

Senior punter David Lerner is currently set to start over freshman Kyle Christy. Lerner, a walk-on who learned in late July that he has Chron’s disease, has been practicing through the health issue and was put on scholarship by Muschamp this week. “Kyle Christy has done some really good things, has got a tremendous leg,” he said, “but David has punted consistently better.”

Redshirt junior right tackle Matt Patchan, who had been competing with redshirt freshman Chaz Green for the starting gig, has currently taken the lead and the chance to solidify the right side of the line.

With junior Xavier Nixon holding down the starting left tackle job, redshirt sophomore Kyle Koehne (who was backing him up) has been moved to left guard and quickly jumped ahead of redshirt freshman Ian Silberman and redshirt senior James Wilson, both of whom were competing for the position.

Florida’s starting offensive line (for now) consists of: LT Nixon, LG Koehne, C redshirt sophomore Jonotthan Harrison, RG redshirt sophomore Jon Halapio, RT Patchan.


Three other Gators walk-ons in addition to Lerner earned scholarships from Muschamp this week. The coach informed redshirt sophomore safety Tim Clark, redshirt junior linebacker Scott Peek and senior OT/TE William Steinmann that they had all received the honor after performing well during the spring and summer. Muschamp, a former walk-on himself, described them as, “Four guys that have all been in our program for a number of years, have both demonstrated themselves well on-and-off-the-field, academically they’ve done an outstanding job.” Muschamp said they made the announcement in front of the team and it was very emotional for all involved.


» On practices being closed: “It was hot out there today. Ya’ll glad it was closed today?”

» Muschamp said the team got in a lot of good work in Saturday including stuff in the red zone, on third down and with all four special teams units. He said the band was at practice (so it was not totally closed) and the team worked an end-of-game scenario with 5:18 left on the clock. The Gators were in “full game day operation,” which Muschamp said resulted in a “very productive day.”

» The team will take pictures on Sunday and have its next scrimmage on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday are when the Gators will start preparations for the Florida Atlantic game on Sept. 3.

» Muschamp said sophomore safety Matt Elam had an interception on Saturday and is easily the most consistent player at his position. Everyone else has “shown flashes” but is still competing and trying to earn a spot.

» On the defensive line: “I really like our guys, but we don’t’ have any depth. […] I feel very good about our talent level; we just don’t have any depth.”

» On redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose’s recent improvement: “Andre made a nice catch on a deep ball today. Andre, really the last couple of days, has taken a step forward. […] I was very pleased with Andre today. He made a nice play on the side – well-covered, well-thrown ball. He just continues to show the consistency in his performance, and I’m very pleased.”

» On the AP Top 25 preseason poll: “I could care less about the poll.” When told the phrase is “couldn’t” care less: “I was never very good in English, I’ll be honest with ya.”

» On offensive coordinator Charlie Weis: “Charlie’s experience speaks for itself, and his track record – you all know that. From the standpoint of him working with the players is probably his strongest point. You really talk to people that played for him – whether it was at Notre Dame, New England or Kansas City – the players have a great respect for him because he’s all about the players. He’s hard on them, he’s tough on them, it’s tough love, but they have a great respect because he has answers when things don’t go right.”

» On closing practices to hide details: “That’s why we’ve closed everything. I do think it is an advantage for us this season. […] We put a wild rumor out there about Wildcat. […] That’s why we’ve closed things.”

» On redshirt freshman Quinton Dunbar’s improvement this offseason: “The hardest thing for a young player is to consistently perform every day. You try to explain to them it’s your consistency in your performance [that’s important]. We’ve really challenged Quinton as far as, ‘OK, you want to be a starting receiver, I’m good with that. But to add your value as a player to this football team, you need to be on special teams.’ So when we have scout-look teams as far as our special teams, Quinton Dunbar’s the first guy that jumps in there if he’s not already on the special team. That to me shows tremendous strides and commitment to help our football team. He’s willing to go in there and give our guys a good look.”

» On comparisons between freshman QBs Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett: “Well, I think they are very similar. They’re both athletic, big, strong, big arms, good decision makers. They both have a certain command about themselves as quarterbacks. Jeff’s probably a little more of a scrambler and a runner, as opposed to Jacoby. But they are very similar quarterbacks. Their skill set is very similar. Talking to Charlie about our plan as we move forward is – will be a very similar plan as far as gaming for them and putting them in situations to be successful.”

» On his demeanor at practice: “I’m just myself. There is a key to every young man and you have to find that key. I’m going to be who I am, and I don’t plan anything. I just kind of do what I do.”

» On freshmen playing early: “I always feel like the further your position is away from the ball, the better chance you got to play because your athleticism takes over quicker as opposed to you being close. I think it’s hard for offensive and defensive linemen – I’m not saying it’s impossible because I’ve had guys do it – to come in and play because the bodies are bigger, it’s a faster game, it’s a more complicated game than they’re used to.”

» On if he thinks the team is coming together: “I do. I’m cautiously optimistic when I say that form the standpoint of, what real adversity have we faced? I do think that we’ve battled through some tough practices heat, exhaustion, fatigue; I think we’ve managed that. I wouldn’t say we’ve passed with flying colors, but we’ve managed that. What’s going to happen when we get down 14-0? How are we going to respond to that? That’s when you find out a lot about your team.”

Gators at No. 22 in 2011 AP preseason poll

The 2010 Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners earned the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press preseason poll released Saturday with the Florida Gators being slotted in the bottom fifth of the rankings at No. 22.

Oklahoma received 36 of 60 possible first-place votes with Alabama (17), Oregon (4), LSU (1) and Boise State (2) rounding out the top five.

Other Southeastern Conference teams ranked by the AP this preseason include 2010 SEC East champion South Carolina (No. 12), Arkansas (No. 15), Georgia (No. 19), Mississippi State (No. 20) and 2010 SEC West champion Auburn (No. 23).

The Gators were ranked No. 23 by USA Today in their coaches preseason poll.

WeekResultBCSUSA TodayAssociated Press
Preseason--No. 10 (930)No. 10 (894)
2W 24-6 vs. Toledo-No. 9 (974)No. 12 (875)
3L 16-21 at Miami-No. 20 (410)No. 18 (405)
4Open-No. 18 (398)No. 19 (412)
5W 31-17 vs. Tennessee-No. 19 (449)No. 20 (414)
6W 24-7 at Kentucky-No. 19 (515)No. 18 (481)
7W 30-10 vs. Arkansas-No. 17 (574)No. 17 (536)
8L 6-17 at LSU-No. 22 (240)No. 22 (249)
9L 17-36 at Missouri-NR (4)NR (17)

Florida began the 2010 season at No. 4 in the AP top 25 and No. 3 in the USA Today poll but finished unranked after going 8-5 (4-4 SEC).

8/19: Thompson and Dunbar bond, Brantley’s progress, Hammond, Driskel, Brissett, Watkins

With the Florida Gators in the middle of preseason practice preparing for their first game on Sept. 3 at home against Florida Atlantic, a number of prominent players were made available to the media on Friday to discuss how the team is progressing.


Though the news may not be so great for senior punter David Lerner on the health front, head coach Will Muschamp informed the walk-on Friday that he will be awarded a scholarship for his final season in the Orange & Blue. Lerner, who is competing with freshman Kyle Christy for the starting job, was said to have been emotional when learning of the team’s decision.

“I thought it was a great opportunity for him,” redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “He’s been here for a few years now and he’s worked his tail off. I’m just happy to see it because he’s such a good kid.”


The 2010 season is likely the most disappointed redshirt freshman wide receiver Quinton Dunbar will feel in an Orange & Blue uniform, but a strong friendship with redshirt senior WR Deonte Thompson got him through the struggles and made him appreciative of the opportunity he has with the Gators. “Since I got on campus, Deonte grabbed me under his wing,” Dunbar said Friday. “That’s the only person I really hang around. We do everything together. He’s like my older brother. He teaches me route running, adjusting to the ball, just different things as a receiver.”

Part of the reason the relationship is so strong is that Dunbar leaned on Thompson to help him become a more consistent player after he was disappointed to learn that he would redshirt his freshman season. “Physically I was probably ready, but mentally I wasn’t ready,” Dunbar said, according to InsidetheGators.com. “I was immature. Some days I would come out wanting to practice, some days I didn’t. Some days I’d show up, some days I wouldn’t. So it was more of a maturity thing than a physical thing last year.”

Now Thompson, who sees himself as a leader this season as well as a mentor for his “little brother” Dunbar, hopes he can set a good example in his final year at Florida. “I’m not old, still young, but time is running out here,” he said.


Ask anyone the main difference between Brantley’s demeanor in 2010 and 2011 and the default word that is always pointed to his confidence. Placed in a system that did not best utilize his skill set and forced to lead a young team that had just lost many veteran playmakers, Brantley’s improvement this offseason both on- and off-the-field is widely agreed upon by his teammates.

“He’s having a great camp, doing real well and [being] a great leader,” Thompson said. “He’s taking control of the team, and it’s been like that all summer. I’d just say his swag and confidence is higher than they have been in the past.” Dunbar was even more specific. “From the spring, I felt like he was more comfortable, so coming into fall it was expected because he was more comfortable in the spring,” he said. “One thing I will say is he’s more vocal than last yaer. Last year he wasn’t really into it. This year I’d say he’s more into it. More vocal. More happier.”

Though Dunbar would not co-sign the lofty prediction by redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard (who said that Brantley would be in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy), he did note that the signal caller is steadily improving. “He’s a work-in-progress,” he said. “He’s getting better each and every day, making his reads and making great throws. I won’t vouch for [the Heisman yet], but he’s getting better every day.” Dunbar also pointed to the fact that Brantley is not zoning in on one player but giving all of his teammates equal opportunities to help him out. “He’s throwing the ball in different places. He hits the tight ends and wide receivers, so he’s just feeding everyone,” he said. “He’s very confident in his offense and he’s very confident in [offensive coordinator Charlie] Weis and what Weis teaches him.”

For his part, Brantley is trying to lead by example and is obviously doing a good job based on the way his receivers react when his name is brought up. “We got a group of us leaders on offense and on defense. I consider myself one of those,” he said. “I just try to step up in practice every day and try to be that leader.”


With an extensive history of developing quarterbacks and helping them mature at a rapid rate, Weis once again has another reclamation project in Brantley and, from how things sound early on, may very well already be succeeding. Brantley, who said Weis doesn’t yell but likes to “do his thing,” considers him “an all-around great coach. He knows when you can laugh a little bit in the meeting room to break everything up. He knows when to be serious.”

Though Weis is “very demanding” (“If a ball is just a little high, he’s telling us to get it down even if it’s a completed pass. He expects perfection, and that’s what great coaches do.”), Brantley notes that his impact on his game has been monumental already. “He’s a great coach, a real smart guy. I learn something new every day in that film room,” he said. “It’ll be the same play but he’ll pick out something new to teach us with. That’s what makes it interesting and fun to go in there and keep learning.”

One lesson Weis has taught Brantley is to pick himself up if he makes a mistake, brush his shoulder pads off and get ready for the next series. Redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond has noticed that Brantley is more comfortable, relaxed and settled in the pocket and can tell Weis’s lessons are already paying dividends. “He takes control,” Hammond said of Brantley. “Whether we’re progressing or it’s a bad [play], he just regroups and has short-term memory, moves on to the next play.”


Just like how “confidence” is a key word when players talk about Brantley, “progress” is used whenever the names of freshman QBs Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett are brought up. Below are some specific thoughts on the two young signal callers from their teammates.

Brantley: “They’ve done a great job. They’ve made a lot of progress also this camp. With helping them also helps me understand everything. I’m just glad I can be there to help them, and I’m happy to see that they’re progressing so well. […] [Brissett is] a little confused and everything but that’s normal. He’s worked really hard. He’s studied his playbook and when he goes in there and gets his reps, he does a fine job. […] Jeff, he does a little more mentally prepared just because he was here during the spring. Coach Weis puts them in good situation – plays they know they can run and everything. He keeps testing them each day and they keep doing well.”

Dunbar: “They both are working, getting better. I see a lot of potential in both of them. Both got mobility, so they’re getting better. They’re both the same – both of them got mobility, got nice arms – can throw the ball deep. Both of them are going to be good players here.”

Hammond: “Both of them are pretty much on-point. Being that Jacoby got here in the summer, he has to pick it up a little bit quicker, but he’s picking it up. Being that Driskel came in the spring, he has a little bit of a jump start, so he’s a little bit more comfortable with it. They’re both progressing and moving forward. […] If you ask me, they’re similar quarterbacks, just because they’re a little bit more mobile, they can scramble and get out of the pocket and make more things happen with their feet. It definitely brings a different type of style to the offense.”


» Thompson on if he has a nickname for being one of the older players: “The only person that gives us a hard time is Coach Weis. He gives me and [Chris] Rainey a hard time every day, says we’re the old guys and were playing college ball when he was in college.”

» Sophomore safety Jaylen Watkins on Muschamp being tough on the secondary: “He just tells us if we mess up, then it’s a touchdown. If the D-line messes up, we can cover them. We have nobody to cover us, so we have to be right on point.”

» Watkins on freshman De’Ante Saunders’s work at safety: “He looks pretty natural. Pop’s a good tackler, so if you can tackle and play corner, obviously you can cover.”

» Watkins on adjusting from cornerback to safety: “Just being more vocal. You have to be vocal; you have to know a lot. You can’t mess up. You play a bigger role in the defense.”

» Watkins on if the secondary’s communication is improving: “We’re pretty young on the back end, so it’s coming along pretty good. The past couple of days we’ve had great communication and great adjustment. The more we get the defense, the more vocal we get. All of us are starting to get it and become one, so that’s when we talk more.”

» Hammond on how long it took him to become consistent: “It just takes time. Coming off of my redshirt sophomore year when I was just basically playing special teams, I wanted to focus on catching and becoming a better all-around receiver. Coming off that year, I just tried to focus on that. I’ve just been getting better and progressing at it every day. All of us try as a whole, as receivers, to focus on being consistent and not have any drops at all. Nobody’s perfect and there’s always somewhere you can critique and get better at.”

» Hammond on specializing in pass blocking on the edges: “Blocking helps because it’s more than just catching the ball and scoring touchdowns. To be a good football team, you have to establish the run game. Part of that is springing plays – those big 60-yard runs – that contributes to a receiver blocking down field. I understand that’s a great deal of our offense and that’s what keeps things moving and opens up things for the passing game as well. So I focus on blocking just as well as catching the ball.”

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