The momentum Florida generated in the second half of last season apparently has carried over into the spring.
For the second straight scrimmage, the Gators made a favorable impression on their head coach, Dan Mullen.
“Yeah, (it was a step forward),” Mullen said Monday of Saturday’s closed scrimmage. “There’s some positives, a lot to teach off of for us. A lot to show guys. I thought it was pretty positive in teaching. I like the teaching moments.
“To sit there and try to feel good or bad after the scrimmage, I don’t know that I feel either. I just want to make sure that we have the right teaching moments and are we headed in the right direction? Are we getting all the different stuff in?
“As I was telling the coaches, ours is making sure we’re getting taught what we need taught, we’re getting to evaluate what we need to be evaluated and putting players in positions to be successful. Overall, I would say it was pretty successful because we have a bunch of teaching moments. We got to see guys do things. It helps us to make better decisions of where everybody is at.”
Mullen said the quarterbacks continue to make progress.
“Yep. Oh, yeah, they’ve done good, they’ve done good,” he said. “You see them a lot more comfortable in the system in year two.”
Redshirt freshman Emory Jones threw three touchdown passes in the scrimmage, while Feleipe Franks had two. One of the other highlights was a 60-yard TD run by running back Malik Davis.
Cleveland coming on
Two of those touchdown passes in the scrimmage went to senior wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland, who continues to make strides this spring.
“He’s done a great job for us,” Mullen said. “He’s getting better, understanding what we’re doing. He probably played a little bit more (in the scrimmage) because Van (Jefferson) wasn’t here, had a family issue.
“I thought he did a great job last year. He’s a guy that understands what it is to go be a team player. He’s a dynamic special teams player for us, as well, made a lot of special teams plays. When you become a mature guy like him, you understand if you want to play after college, being a dynamic special teams player is as important as being a dynamic receiver.”
Young pups up front
The four early enrollee offensive linemen still have a long way to go before they’re ready to play in the SEC, but Michael Tarquin, Kingsley Eguakun, Will Harrod and Ethan White have all taken steps forward.
“Those young linemen have really bought into the program, and bought into football,” Mullen said. “They talk football. They spend a lot of extra time trying to study and prepare themselves and be ready in case their number is called this season.
“ A lot of freshmen come in and are trying to figure it all out. And these guys, you hear them having football conversations about calls, how they’re making calls, how they communicate with each other. Even though it’s a little nerve wracking now, it could be pretty good a couple years down the road when the same guys are still out there.”
Mullen said if the four weren’t on campus early, the Gators likely would not have enough offensive linemen to hold a traditional spring game Saturday.
“I’m thankful they’re here,” he said. “I don’t know how we’d practice (without them). If we didn’t have those guys, the spring game format would probably be more seven-on-seven. I don’t know if we’d play with linemen. It would be more of a seven-on-seven tournament type of deal.
“You’re talking about four guys that are rotating in the two-deep right now that are really high school seniors. I am pleased with their development. I’m pleased with where all those guys are at, how they’re picking things up and how they’re performing.”