Notebook: Defense dominates practice


Published: Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 11:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 11:59 p.m.

Florida's defense doesn't have the experience of the two previous units, but it appears to be every bit as athletic, if not more.

That athleticism shined as Florida's defense dominated the offense 41-20 in Saturday's scrimmage.

Quarterbacks John Brantley and Trey Burton looked overwhelmed for most of the morning as defenders maneuvered through and around an offensive line that was without most of its regular starters.

With seniors Mike Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert, Maurice Hurt and Carl Johnson watching, the line struggled. Much of it was made up of freshmen, including Nick Alajajian who filled in for Pouncey at center. Freshmen Jonotthan Harrison, Ian Silberman and Jon Halapio also shared reps.

Brantley hurried his early passes with defenders swarming. Defensive linemen William Green and Duke Lemmens combined for a couple of sacks. When his passes did make it to receivers, most were dropped or batted down.

Burton didn't fare much better, but did have a nice 35-yard completion to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. down the right side of the field.

The running game suffered, too, but the offensive play of the day came from walk-on running back Ean McQuay, who broke off a run for about 40 yards down the right sideline.

The defensive play of the day came when freshman safety Matt Elam intercepted Brantley's pass just outside Brantley's own goal line and returned it for a touchdown. Elam spent most of the day working with the first-team defense.

Freshman cornerback Jaylen Watkins, who also played with the first team, had a nice interception off a Burton pass that went through the hands of redshirt freshman receiver Stephen Alli.

Alli was one of the most productive offensive players, making the majority of catches Saturday.

Brantley impressed near the end, leading the offense down the field with a myriad of short passes to Rainey and sophomore receivers Hammond and Omarius Hines.

The defense finished with senior cornerback Moses Jenkins knocking down two Brantley passes for junior receiver Deonte Thompson in the end zone.

Cornerback battle

Co-defensive coordinator Chuck Heater said Friday that Moses Jenkins and redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown are pushing to start opposite junior Janoris Jenkins.

Both have impressed this spring, and Heater said there's no hesitation from Brown after a back injury sidelined him for two seasons.

“You wouldn't know he had a (back) problem, which is great,” Heater said. “That's the way you like it, but it was a significant issue for him for a couple years, so we just keep hoping that it's not going to be an issue and he keeps playing the way he's playing because he's really done a nice job.”

With redshirt sophomore Adrian Bushell not practicing, Watkins and fellow freshman Joshua Shaw have gotten significant reps.

Brantley knows young receivers

Brantley said he's developed good timing with his younger receivers.

“I know how a lot of these guys run,” Brantley said. “I trust all of them, right now. They're doing a great job, getting better every day, and we just keep improving.”

He's also excited about Rainey in the slot.

“He's a fast dude,” Brantley said. “He's starting to learn all of the routes, and he's going to be a big playmaker for us this year.”

Quotable

Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin on Brett Favre returning: “My guess is as good as yours right now.”

On having Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who is involved in trade rumors, at quarterback: “It doesn't matter.”

Extra points

Joe Haden said Friday that while there are rumors of his younger brother, Josh, enrolling at Florida this fall, Josh is deciding between Florida and Louisville. Josh played running back one season at Boston College before transferring last fall. ... Cape Coral receiver Sammy Watkins, half-brother of Jaylen, and Jacksonville Bolles offensive linemen brothers Nathan (2011) and John (2012) Theus attended Saturday's scrimmage. ... Commits Michael Taylor (linebacker) and Jonathan Dowling (safety) attended along with 2011 commit A.C. Leonard (tight end).

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