Notebook: Speedy Dunbar turning heads at practice
Published: Friday, August 12, 2011 at 8:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 12, 2011 at 8:24 p.m.
In spring practice, redshirt freshman wide receiver Quinton Dunbar was one of the big surprises in the Florida offense.
By all accounts he's picked up where he left off.
"He's just making plays when plays need to be made," quarterback John Brantley said Friday. "Anyone can catch the ball when no one's around, but it's what you do in traffic and on go-routes, if you can go up there over the cornerback. He's just making plays. He absolutely has the speed (to run past defenders)."
Dunbar, who has added 16 pounds to get up to 188 since he first arrived at UF, says he is staying humble despite all of the attention.
"I'm young, so I just have to stay consistent and keep working," he said. "My confidence is going to stay high, because I'm just going to continue to get better."
He is fighting for a starting position this fall and hopes to use his speed to carve out a role.
"Vertical is a big part of this offense," he said. "We run to set up the pass, so it's a big emphasis."
To that end, Dunbar says he has strengthened his connection with Brantley.
"We stay after practice and get routes down, get deep balls down," he said. "So we're just trying to get that connection."
When asked which cornerback gives them the most trouble, Dunbar and junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr., named sophomore Cody Riggs.
"He's a little pest," Dunbar said. "He's just really tough. He stands his ground. He'll jam you. He just likes to nag you, and he'll stay on top of you."
Riggs is contending for a starting job after playing in all 13 games last season and starting three. One of those starts was the Outback Bowl, in which he recorded his first career interception.
Despite his size — 5-foot-9 and 179 pounds — Riggs brings an edge with his aggressive nature.
Said Hammond: "He's more physical and he likes to get up in you."
All of the Florida players are wearing orange wristbands with a Gator head logo and the word GRIND in capital letters. And grinding is certainly what they are doing in this fall training camp.
Their two-a-day practices are physical and hot. The staff has been careful to avoid the worst heat during the middle of the day, when the Gainesville area has reached near-record temperatures this week and the heat index (how hot it feels) has routinely been above 105.
Hammond said nicks and bruises are commonplace.
"I'm doing all right," he said with a wry smile. "I mean, it's camp, so everybody's body is beat up. But we're all working through it."
Muschamp in your face
Will Muschamp has forged a reputation as a fiery coach. He won't hesitate to correct mistakes by screaming at a player and dressing him down before building him back up.
A strong safety in college with the Georgia Bulldogs from 1991-94, Muschamp coaches UF's safeties. But the entire defensive backfield has gotten used to his extra attention.
"He's like a secondary guy, so we might get pushed the hardest because we're the last line of defense," senior cornerback Moses Jenkins said. "We can't miss tackles, we can't drop balls, we can't let guys get behind us.
"He pushes us. You can't let it get to you. It's tough love. He'll yell at you but then get right back to his normal voice. It's nothing personal."
Fans can purchase single-game tickets, but only four home games remain: Florida Atlantic on Sept. 3, UAB on Sept. 10, Vanderbilt (Homecoming) on Nov. 5 and Furman on Nov. 19. Fans can log on to GatorZone.com/Tickets or call the ticket office at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at (352) 375-4683.
Brantley gushed about the recent performance of the offense: "The past two days have been real good days for us. Receivers making plays, running backs making plays and the offensive line really coming together and blocking real well. We'll be ready." ... Brantley said he has confidence in his offensive line and he's pleased with how his blockers are "cleaning everything up" now that they're practicing in pads. He also said redshirt junior offensive tackle Matt Patchan is doing well: "He's looking really good. I hear from some of the defensive lineman that he's been playing really well." ... Since the Gators picked up verbal commitment No. 17 for the Class of 2012 in five-star offensive tackle D.J. Humphries out of Charlotte, N.C., Florida has moved up to No. 3 in the team rankings of both Rivals.com and ESPN.com.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.