UF FOOTBALL

Spring football tracker: UF spreads passing game


Florida running back Mack Brown during the opening day of spring practice at Sanders Practice Fields on Wednesday.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, March 21, 2014 at 9:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 21, 2014 at 9:14 p.m.

QB update: Junior Jeff Driskel continues to work exclusively with the No. 1 offense, while sophomore Skyler Mornhinweg and true freshman Will Grier continue to share reps with the second-team offense in what is looming as a tight battle for the No. 2 quarterback role behind Driskel. On Friday, Mornhinweg seemed to have a better all-around practice than Grier, who probably had gotten the better of Mornhinweg in the first practice Wednesday. On Friday, Mornhinweg seemed to be very sharp (and quick) making his reads and threw the ball with a lot of authority and success. He got more of the reps as the practice went along, while Grier struggled some with his consistency.

Trending on offense: It’s become apparent that new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper likes to spread the ball around to all the skill players and use the entire field. For the second practice in a row, the tight ends and running backs were very much involved in the passing game. Tight end Tevin Westbrook and fullback Hunter Joyer both caught passes that were actually thrown down the field, something the Gators rarely tried to do last season. … The offensive player of the day probably was true sophomore wide receiver Chris Thompson, who caught multiple passes and looked extremely quick and fast running his routes — and after catching the ball. … Grier struggled at times, but also was on the money on some short and intermediate passes early in practice. He appears to have the quickest release of all the quarterbacks. … Chaz Green and Trenton Brown shared reps at right tackle with the No. 1 offense. Brown did not see any time at guard Friday, after getting reps there Wednesday. … Sophomore wide receiver Demarcus Robinson had his second consecutive productive day. He caught numerous passes, including a bullet over the middle from Driskel that Robinson snagged despite tight coverage from Vernon Hargreaves III.

Trending on defense: For the second practice in a row, Hargreaves and senior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar entertained the crowd with their intense one-on-one battles during passing drills. Hargreaves, who is tough to shake, probably won more battles than Dunbar, but again, Dunbar made some catches against him and certainly appears to be improving with the competition the two have going on. … Linebacker Michael Taylor and redshirt freshman safety Marcell Harris broke up passes. … Other than a fumble late in practice, the defense did not get the offense to turn the ball over. … Redshirt freshman Nick Washington continues to split time between cornerback and safety. He appears to be working himself into the playing rotation at both positions. … True freshman cornerback Jalen Tabor continues to impress with his solid man-to-man coverage. Tabor is battling for significant playing time — and pushing junior Brian Poole for the starting job opposite Hargreaves.

True freshman spotlight: With the lack of depth at cornerback, Duke Dawson is getting considerable reps and appears to be holding his own in coverage. He seems physically mature for a freshman and is seeing most of his practice time with the No. 2 defense. He’s also returning punts. Early indications are that he will contribute in the fall on defense and on special teams.

Play of the day: During seven-on-seven drills, Driskel launched a deep pass down the middle of the field that wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood sprinted under and caught for a touchdown.

Injury update: Safety Keanu Neal (hamstring), fullback Gideon Ajagbe (hamstring) and linebacker Neiron Ball (knee) did not practice Friday. There is a chance Ajagbe will return today. Neal and Ball are day to day.

Next open practice: Today, 12:50 p.m. at Sanders Practice Fields.

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