Spring football tracker: Grier sharp in 11-on-11
Published: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 8:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 6:51 p.m.
QB UPDATE: Starter Jeff Driskel had a few more miscues Wednesday than he did in Monday's practice, but it was still a solid performance. In one of the early 11-on-11 periods, Driskel was intercepted by linebacker Antonio Morrison near the goal line and then had a miscommunication with one of his receivers on a busted play. He also pushed a sideline throw to Demarcus Robinson just a little too far out of bounds. But Driskel rebounded later in practice with a deep ball to Robinson for a score. In the final portion of 11-on-11 red-zone work, Driskel threw two touchdowns. On the first, he quickly picked up the blitz of linebacker Michael Taylor and floated a perfect pass over the defense to Mack Brown, who slipped out of the backfield and was wide open. On the last play of practice, Driskel found receiver Valdez Showers in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown to, as offensive coordinator Kurt Roper screamed, “win the game!” Skyler Mornhinweg started some of the 11-on-11 work as the No. 2 quarterback and made a nice pass on the run to wideout Alvin Bailey, but he overthrew running back Adam Lane on a wheel route and then behind fullback Hunter Joyer across the middle. Once again, it was Will Grier who looked like the better of the two backup options. Although the true freshman threw a bad interception to cornerback Brian Poole in the pass skeleton drill, he made up for it in 11-on-11 work. Grier launched a pair of perfectly thrown bombs to receiver Chris Thompson down the right sideline.
TRENDING ON OFFENSE: It was a big day for Ahmad Fulwood. In one-on-one drills, his precise route running helped him win two battles against Duke Dawson, who has been one of Florida's best cornerbacks this spring. He also caught a couple of short passes in traffic during 11-on-11 and then hauled in a catch on a corner route for a big gain. Showers, who moved from running back to receiver this spring, dropped a lot of balls early on but is no longer having an issue with his hands. Robinson had little trouble getting open, and Bailey continues to catch on at the position. Another player progressing is true freshman tight end DeAndre Goolsby, who got the best of safeties Jabari Gorman and Nick Washington in one-on-one drills. On one of his receptions, he reached down and scooped up a ball that was near his knees. Joyer remains involved in the passing game and caught a pass from Driskel over the middle. It was a quiet day from the running backs as a whole, but Mark Herndon and Adam Lane saw time with the first team. Offensive lineman Trenton Brown, who has backed up right tackle Chaz Green for the majority of the spring, also got some snaps with the starters. Austin Hardin had one of his best practices, missing just one field goal, and appears to be ahead of Frankie Velez in the kicking competition.
TRENDING ON DEFENSE: Caleb Brantley and Jay-nard Bostwick received first-team reps at defensive tackle with Darious Cummings missing practice due to a family matter. Both showed flashes of their abilities, but as UF coach Will Muschamp pointed out in his Tuesday news conference, they just have to do it on a consistent basis. They seem to have difficulty with maintaining their stamina and intensity on every play. At linebacker, more solid performances came from Morrison and Daniel McMillian, who looks great in pass coverage and comfortable with his defensive assignments as he goes through his second spring with the Gators. Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III won several battles against receiver Quinton Dunbar, who was matched up against him multiple times as the two went back-and-forth with the trash talk. Hargreaves broke up two balls intended for Dunbar in the end zone and another in pass skel. Jabari Gorman also had a number of deflections, including one that would have easily been a 35-yard touchdown catch for receiver Latroy Pittman had the senior safety not swiped it away at the last second.
TRUE FRESHMAN SPOTLIGHT: After some rough spots in tackling drills, cornerback Jalen Tabor had one of the top defensive plays in 11-on-11 work. In coverage against Fulwood, he stayed with him stride-for-stride and batted down a jump ball in the end zone. He also broke up a pass from Mornhinweg to Raphael Andrades.
PLAY OF THE DAY: On one of Grier's long completions to Thompson, the sophomore receiver showed off his speed by gaining a step on both the corner and safety. He then caught the pass falling backward for about a 50-yard gain.
INJURY UPDATE: Safety Keanu Neal (hamstring) practiced for the first time since the opening day. Thompson was no longer in an orange non-contact jersey, but Debose (knee) still wore his and will for the remainder of the spring. The players in the injury pit Wednesday were fullback Gideon Ajagbe (unknown), running backs Matt Jones (knee) and Brandon Powell (foot) and linebackers Alex Anzalone (shoulder), Jeremi Powell (knee) and Matt Rolin (knee).
NEXT OPEN PRACTICE: Friday, April 11 at Sanders Practice Fields. Time TBA.
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