Grier moves into No. 2 quarterback role

Published: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 3:16 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 3:16 p.m.

Starter Jeff Driskel turned in one of his best practices of the spring Monday.

He didn't have any throws that would make SportsCenter's Top 10 plays, but his passes were accurate and his command of the huddle was clear to see. He looked very comfortable receiving the plays from the sideline and making checks at the line of scrimmage, and it was a productive day for the unit as a result.

His most notable moment in practice came after what was really his only bad throw of the day. Following a long completion to Demarcus Robinson, Driskel sailed a swing pass over his head in the left flat. Offensive coordinate Kurt Roper came right back to the call on the next snap, and this time Driskel delivered the ball right into the hands of Robinson, who then turned it upfield for a first down.

Will Grier opened as the No. 2 QB in 11-on-11 work for the first time this spring, a move that was inevitable given how well he has performed. Skyler Mornhinweg received less reps than he has in previous practices, though he did lead one scoring drive.

But with the style of Roper's system favoring dual-threat quarterbacks, Mornhinweg's role will likely be minimal moving forward.

* Trending on offense: The Gators had some extensive scrimmage time Monday because their practice was cut short Saturday due to weather. Nobody benefited more from this than Robinson. He was the player of the day and ran exclusively with the first-team offense, something he's only done at times in the spring. He lined up in the slot and was a mismatch problem for the nickelbacks and linebackers.

Robinson repeatedly made players miss in the open field and scored on a 35-yard reception. Alvin Bailey and Quinton Dunbar each hauled in a few catches that went for first downs, and Ahmad Fulwood was on the receiving end of a touchdown pass.

Kelvin Taylor and Mark Herndon were the most impressive running backs of the day, bulldozing through defenders and gaining a lot of yards after contact on several of their carries. On one play, Herndon broke about six tackles for a 15-yard gain. Mack Brown had a nice gallop off the right tackle to move the chains, but both he and Adam Lane were contained for most of the day.

Fullback Hunter Joyer continues to be involved both on the ground and through the air.

* Trending on defense: It was another disruptive day at defensive tackle for Darious Cummings, whose first step looks faster than it did last year. He blew by center Max Garcia to drop Brown for a 4-yard loss on one play, and later sacked (tagged) Driskel almost immediately after he received the shotgun snap.

Antonio Morrison was in on several tackles in the run game, including back-to-back stops on Lane, who is one of the hardest players to bring down on Florida's offense.

* True freshman spotlight: Grier received the majority of the second-team reps Monday and is a step closer to winning the backup job. Like Driskel, he had just one poor pass and was on target with the rest of his attempts.

Near the end of practice, he launched a perfectly-thrown deep ball that would have been a touchdown had Andre Debose kept running instead of misjudging and turning around on his route.

* Play of the day: On Robinson's 35-yard touchdown, Grier found him in man coverage on a slant route. He slipped through a tackle after making the catch, cut on a dime to the outside and then outran the secondary down the right sideline for the score.

* Injury update: Debose, wearing a non-contact jersey and knee brace, participated in 11-on-11 work for the first time. Receiver Chris Thompson was also in a non-contact jersey for an unknown injury. Defensive end Jordan Sherit, like Washington, was no longer wearing one.

The players in the injury pit Monday were running backs Matt Jones (knee) and Brandon Powell (foot), linebackers Alex Anzalone (shoulder), Neiron Ball (knee), Jeremi Powell (knee), Matt Rolin (knee) and safety Keanu Neal (hamstring).

Zach Abolverdi is a Gainesville Sun correspondent.

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