Gators in full pads first time this spring
Published: Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 9:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, March 18, 2012 at 12:23 a.m.
The Florida Gators practiced in full pads Saturday for the first time this spring, but there was not a whole lot of full-contact work during the session, which was open to the public.
The most physical the practice got came at about the midway point when the Gators did the Oklahoma drill where two offensive linemen are pitted against two defensive linemen, with a running back carrying the football. The drill lasted only a few minutes.
Saturday's practice was the second and final one open to the public and the media. Once again, there was no media access to the players or coaches after the practice. The next time the fans can watch the Gators live will be in the April 7 spring game at Florida Field.
For the second day in a row, we offer these sideline observations:
* Redshirt sophomore Tyler Murphy reminded everyone Saturday that Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett are not the only players involved in the competition at quarterback. Of the three quarterbacks, Murphy may have had the best day. He definitely threw the ball consistently better than the other two. He threw a deep strike down the sideline to Andre Debose and completed numerous other passes. He seemed to throw nothing but tight spirals.
* In seven-on-seven passing drills, the quarterbacks were relegated to throwing mostly short passes and dump-downs. The few passes that were thrown downfield were covered. The QBs seemed to be looking mostly to the tight ends underneath the coverage.
* Jaylen Watkins, who entered the spring second on the depth chart at one cornerback position, stood out in Saturday's practice. He intercepted a deep pass from Driskel early in the practice, then came up with another nice pick near the end. He seems to be practicing with a lot of confidence and desire.
* Mack Brown may have had one of his best days as a Gator. He made several nice runs, showing an excellent burst and deft cutting ability. He also made a defender whiff with a sharp move he put on during a kickoff return. If he can find a comfort level in his knowledge of the offense, Brown has a chance to be a major contributor in the running game in the fall.
* Several players left Saturday's practice for the injury pit. Starting cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy was shaken up during a one-on-one drill. He got up and stayed on the field, but about 15 minutes later he slowly walked to the training area for some kind of treatment. Also, defensive end Earl Okine, who already has a cast on the hand he injured in the Gator Bowl, appeared to pull or strain a leg muscle. He spent the final 30 minutes of practice stretching his legs. Wide receiver Stephen Alli must have gotten injured at some point in Friday's practice. He spent Saturday in the injury pit.
* Buck linebacker Ronald Powell and linebacker Michael Taylor had back-to-back nice (and very physical) exchanges during a kickoff drill. Taylor, one of the biggest hitters on the team, lit up Powell during one return. A few minutes later, Powell returned the favor, rocking Taylor with a jarring blow that drew a reaction from the relatively small crowd (probably less than 200) on hand.
* Omarius Hines, who is playing tailback and slot receiver, had a second productive practice, making several nice runs and catching a deep touchdown pass during 11-on-11. The pass was thrown by Driskel.
* Redshirt freshman wide receiver Ja'Juan Story, who seemed to be a non-factor in Friday's practice, made a nice catch over the middle Saturday. He's a big (6-foot-3, 206 pounds) receiver who also appears to run very well. With veteran receivers Frankie Hammond and Debose both dropping passes Saturday, Story may have a chance to move up on the depth chart if he continues to make plays.