The 2010 version of the Florida Gators is beginning their third week fall practice and, while the activities were once again closed to both the media and public, some notable things did occur Monday. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.
REPLACING BRANDON JAMES…
During his media availability Monday, head coach Urban Meyer announced that junior running back Jeff Demps would be handling kickoff returns, while redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey would get the vast majority of work as the team’s punt returner for the upcoming season. Meyer added that junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins will see time bringing back punts on occasion. OGGOA continues to believe that – considering Demps, Rainey and Jenkins are all very important starters at other positions – fans may see another player (freshman WR Robert Clark?) take over some of these duties as the season progresses (especially if any are nursing injuries).
THE ‘STACHE IS TRASH
Redshirt junior starting quarterback John Brantley had a mustache. Now he doesn’t.
MOVEMENT AT LEFT TACKLE
Whether it is due to a knee injury sustained by sophomore Xavier Nixon, the talent and progression of redshirt sophomore Matt Patchan or both, it appears that the latter has the inside track on the Gators’ starting left tackle job. Patchan, who is returning from a wrist injury and not yet participating fully in practice, could very well supplant Nixon, who started the final five games of the 2009 season.
Starting middle linebacker – being contested by sophomore Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins – and starting cornerback – a battle between redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown and senior Moses Jenkins – both remain open position battles.
PROVING HIS WORTH
When punishing sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr., Meyer chose to take him off of scholarship rather than immediately suspend him from games or kick him off the team, giving the player a chance to earn his way back in his coaches’ and teammates’ good graces. Hammond has been doing just that over the last few weeks, proving that he has his head on straight, will not duplicate his mistake and is an integral part of the team. Though Meyer will not reinstate Hammond’s scholarship before the season, a successful year off the field could get him back on track before spring or summer
IF YOU GON’ DO IT – DO IT JUST LIKE THIS
After the scrimmage on Saturday – the team’s final one of the fall – Meyer graded out a number of players as Champions of the team. Offense: QB Brantley, senior center Mike Pouncey, redshirt senior T Marcus Gilbert, redshirt sophomore fullback T.J. Pridemore – Defense: senior safety Ahmad Black, defensive ends senior Duke Lemmens and junior defensive end William Green, linebackers sophomore Jon Bostic and senior Lorzenzo Edwards.
Meyer said that redshirt senior defensive tackle Brandon Antwine has been out of action the last few days after suffering a concussion; he may return on Tuesday if cleared by doctors. Redshirt senior WR Justin Williams hurt his shoulder during practice and has been using a sling. Junior WR Deonte Thompson’s hamstring acted up on him, causing him to sit out Saturday’s scrimmage, but he will be fine; likewise, freshman WR Chris Dunkley’s hamstring injury is believed to be behind him.
Meyer on Saturday’s final scrimmage and where the team is at right now: “We weren’t very good. … It really was not a very good scrimmage. Defense played well – about what you’d think for where we’re at right now. I’m hitting the panic button a little bit right now. We’ve got to get better faster than what we are at right now. It’s not that we’re not good, it’s just consistency of the offensive and defensive line[s]. We have to get them all in there. Once Patchan comes back and Xavier Nixon gets back, we’ll look a little better on the offensive line. When DT and Carl [Moore] and Omarius Hines [are] all together, we’ll look a little better, but right now, it’s not Florida football yet.”
Meyer comparing Brantley and Tim Tebow: “Somebody asked me today about the difference between John Brantley and Tim Tebow. Outward appearances, there’s a big difference. Inward … his competitiveness and leadership are fantastic right now, much better than I thought. I was really worried about that. When you have a guy like that [Tebow] in front of you, [Brantley] didn’t show much. Today we did the two-minute drill and he did fantastic. He ran the whole show and acted like a veteran quarterback – like he is. I’m really encouraged by John. Everybody knows he can throw the ball. The other part is fantastic right now as far as management of the team and leadership.”
Meyer on how the freshmen are performing: “Just OK. Actually, [I’m] a little disappointed in some of them. I thought they’d go take a spot. A few guys are doing decent – [safety] Matt Elam, [DT] Dominique Easley and [WR] Quinton Dunbar – who has been very good for us and might play this year. [DE] Ronald Powell had a great practice today, but didn’t have a great camp. He’s coming on strong now. Some of those big-game guys, I thought we’d have some of them cracking the lineup right now … but not yet.”
Special thanks to The Gainesville Sun and Palm Beach Post for the above quotations.