Spring football tracker: Defensive front dominates
Published: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 9:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 9:14 p.m.
QB UPDATE: Florida's quarterbacks did much better in Wednesday's practice. Starter Jeff Driskel was still off target on some of his outside throws near the line of scrimmage, including a couple that hit the dirt. But he hit Quinton Dunbar on a drag route for a touchdown and had huge gains on wheel routes to tight end DeAndre Goolsby and walk-on receiver Michael McNeely. Driskel also scored twice on touchdown runs in the red zone. Skyler Mornhinweg was forced into several check-downs and scrambles out of bounds but made a really nice throw on a quick slant to Valdez Showers over the middle that went for big chunk of yardage. On the following play he threw a little bit behind Alvin Bailey while under pressure from a blitz. Will Grier had a few miscommunications with his receivers in pass skel drills but scored twice (once through the air and once on the ground) during 11-on-11 work late in practice.
TRENDING ON OFFENSE: Senior Mack Brown had another standout performance with a couple of nifty runs to the outside and some receptions in the passing game. Kelvin Taylor, who is splitting first-team reps with Brown, appears faster than he was last spring and finds the hole really well. He did have one fumble, however. Mark Herndon continues to turn in results with his reps, scoring once and gaining some first downs. Adam Lane received extended playing time and showed off his strength. He is a very powerful runner and hard to tackle. Dunbar and Raphael Andrades again impressed with their consistency and sure hands, and Bailey and Ahmad Fulwood also produced when targeted.
TRENDING ON DEFENSE: Dante Fowler Jr. was a man among boys for the second consecutive practice. He led a UF front that gave the offensive line fits. Fowler was constantly in the backfield and would have made several sacks on the quarterback had it been live action. He also stripped Taylor and almost recovered the fumble. Bryan Cox Jr. looked great at defensive end as well, blowing up one zone-read play and getting the best of Chaz Green for most of the day. The emergence of Cox has allowed Florida to rep Jonathan Bullard at defensive tackle, where he and Darious Cummings created a lot of penetration Wednesday. After getting called out by defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin during linebacker drills, Jarrad Davis had a strong showing in 11-on-11 work. Durkin spent most of his time with Daniel McMillian, who ran with the first-team defense at times and broke up a pass. No matter the outcome, Durkin came over to say something to McMillian after almost every play or rep. He appears to be getting primed for playing time this fall. Duke Dawson, Vernon Hargreaves III and Jabari Gorman all performed well and have been Florida's most consistent defensive backs through five practices.
TRUE FRESHMAN SPOTLIGHT: Tight end DeAndre Goolbsy was on the receiving end of one of Driskel's best throws of the day, and the play gained more than 20 yards. Later during punt coverage drills, tight ends coach Derek Lewis was all over Goolsby screaming, “Go! Go! Go!” as he ran alongside him. Goolsby ran full speed on the next rep, and Lewis complimented him on his way back to the huddle, saying, “There you go. There you go.”
PLAY OF THE DAY: Grier found fullback Gideon Ajagbe in busted coverage on a wheel route along the left sideline and chucked it toward the end zone. Ajagbe accelerated and dove for the slightly overthrown ball, snagging it just before it hit the ground.
INJURY UPDATE: Safety Nick Washington joined defensive end Jordan Sherit (elbow) in wearing an orange non-contact jersey. Offensive tackle Trenton Brown spent some time in the pit during practice for an unknown injury. Running back Brandon Powell (foot), receiver Andre Debose (knee), offensive lineman Nolan Kelleher (back), defensive tackle Leon Orr (wrist), linebackers Neiron Ball (knee), Alex Anzalone (shoulder), Matt Rolin (knee) and safety Keanu Neal (hamstring) are all still limited or sidelined as they recover from injuries.
NEXT OPEN PRACTICE: Monday at Sanders Practice Fields. Time TBA.
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