Purifoy returns to defense


Loucheiz Purifoy has spent the last two practices working almost exclusively on defense.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Monday, August 19, 2013 at 4:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 19, 2013 at 4:06 p.m.

At a time when Loucheiz Purifoy was supposed to be getting more reps at wide receiver, he's getting less.

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Loucheiz Purifoy has spent the last two practices working almost exclusively on defense.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer

In the past two practices (both open to the public), Purifoy has worked almost exclusively at his permanent position — cornerback. He spent virtually all of Saturday's practice on defense and worked with the offense for just a few minutes early in Monday's practice.

This may be an indication coach Will Muschamp and the offensive coaches are pleased with the progress that's been made by the wide receivers over the past few weeks. Quinton Dunbar and true freshman Demarcus Robinson stood out again in Monday's practice and have both shown the ability to make plays down the field, something that was missing for most of last season.

The reason Purifoy saw a handful of plays on offense last season and spent the first half of spring at wide receiver is the coaches were looking for a dynamic player in the downfield passing game. Will Muschamp said last week Purifoy was going to be spending more time on offense in the coming practices, but in the last two he's pretty much been a full-time cornerback.

Anyone at Monday's practice could see why Muschamp has been adamant all along that Purifoy is a cornerback first and a wide receiver second. Purifoy stood out in a big way Monday, intercepting two passes and blocking a punt. And he consistently locked up the wide receivers with his tight man-to-man coverage.

It will be interesting to see how much the coaches decide to use Purifoy on offense once the season starts. Based on the last two practices, it may not be as much as many have been anticipating.

Here are some other observations from Monday's open practice:

— Sophomore wide receiver Latroy Pittman was not a factor in the passing game last season, but maybe he's starting to make his move. He caught several passes Monday, including two down the field. Solomon Patton also had a productive day at wide receiver on an afternoon when Jeff Driskel and the other quarterbacks seemed to do a good job of spreading the ball around.

— Former safety Valdez Showers is now a full-time offensive player. He's listed as the No. 3 tailback (behind Mack Brown and walk-on Mark Herndon) and also is lining up in the slot as a receiver. He appears to be a very quick and fast player with good hands.

— Here's a good indication of how well true freshman middle linebacker Alex Anzalone can run: The 6-foot-3, 239-pounder was working on the kickoff cover team Monday, and getting downfield right along with some of the smaller athletes on the team. Anzalone is one of the true freshmen who appears slated for playing time this season on special teams and on defense.

— Another true freshman with an impressive practice Monday was outside linebacker Jarrad Davis. He's a physically mature player who seems to run very well, and, based on the last two practices, he can really deliver a blow.

— Former Gainesville High star Chris Thompson, a true freshman, continues to produce on special teams and at wide receiver. Already scheduled to see likely playing time on special teams, Thompson made a nice diving catch in Monday's practice. He appears to have the quickness and speed to stretch the field in the passing game and be a factor in the return game.

— The competition to replace place-kicker Caleb Sturgis remains a dead heat between senior walk-on Brad Phillips and redshirt freshman Austin Hardin. Both hit field goals to culminate drives in the one-minute drill early in practice. Hardin appears to have the stronger leg of the two and better range, while Phillips seems to have a slight edge in accuracy.

— True sophomore tight end Kent Taylor had a 20-yard catch over the middle and showed good hands throughout practice. … True freshman safety Keanu Neal laid out Patton with a huge hit on a pass play over the middle. After the play, the coaches talked to Neal, presumably telling him to take it a little easier on his teammates. … Backup cornerback Jeremy Brown practiced in a non-contact jersey Monday. … Walk-on wide receiver Ryan Parrish, a junior from Lakeland Christian, had several catches in seven-on-seven. … Driskel and No. 2 quarterback Tyler Murphy had success executing the one-minute drill at the start of practice. Both led the offense to a field goal. The quarterbacks behind Driskel and Murphy — redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg and true freshman Max Staver — struggled with consistency. On one play, Staver went to hand off to a running back that wasn't there and simply dropped the ball for a turnover that led to him being pulled. … Today's 12:21 p.m. practice in The Swamp is only open to UF students.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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