Florida Gators practice primer: things to watch


Quarterback Will Grier during the first half of the Orange and Blue Debut at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, April 12, 2014 in Gainesville.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 9:47 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 8, 2014 at 12:11 a.m.

The Gators will hold the first of eight open football practices tonight starting at 7:40 at Dizney Lacrosse Stadium on the UF campus.

Parking is available for all open practices at the lacrosse complex or in the parking deck at the Phillips Performing Arts Center.

The second open practice is Friday, also at 7:40 p.m.

Here are five storylines to watch for:

The battle for No. 2 at QB

Will Muschamp said he's going to play his No. 2 quarterback early in the season to have him ready to go in case something happens to Jeff Driskel like a year ago. The question now is: who is No. 2? Sophomore Skyler Mornhinweg and true freshman Will Grier ended the spring pretty much in a dead heat for the role. Mornhinweg does not have Grier's skill set, but he has starting experience and picked up the new offense quickly. Grier has an excellent arm (and release) and also can make some things happen with his legs. A third player now enters the fray — true freshman Treon Harris, a dual-threat QB who may be the best runner among all the quarterbacks. The Gators will try to find their No. 2 guy early, then get him ready for meaningful playing time in those first three games (before UF heads to Alabama).

And the other cornerback is ….

The Gators have one of the nation's elite defensive players in sophomore Vernon Hargreaves III. Now, they need to settle on a cornerback to play opposite him. There certainly are some intriguing options. True freshmen Duke Dawson and Jalen Tabor were highly rated prospects who showed great promise in the spring and now have some

experience at this level. Junior Brian Poole has played a lot of football and could be the starting nickel. Three other true freshmen — Quincy Wilson, J.C. Jackson and Deiondre Porter — will also be competing for playing time in camp. The Gators are going to determine who their second-best corner is over the next few weeks, then go with

him (true freshman, or not).

Looking for depth on the OL

Perhaps the biggest potential problem area on the 2014 team is the scary lack of depth on the offensive line. The Gators have what appears to be a solid starting five in D.J. Humphries, Chaz Green, Tyler Moore, Trenton Brown and Max Garcia. But behind those guys there is almost zero proven depth. There are some good prospects to work with in camp, including Rod Johnson, Trip Thurman, Cameron Dillard, Antonio Riles and true freshmen David Sharpe and Travaris Dorsey, but they just haven't done anything yet. It's going to be crucial to get them in a position to play, because in the current state, the OL is an injury or two away from turning into a potential mess.

Young guys hoping to emerge on DT

Due to inconsistent play from young players Caleb Brantley and Jay-nard Bostwick, the Gators failed to meet their spring goal of building much-needed depth at the defensive tackle positions. So, they'll line up and try again in camp. The difference now is that two talented true freshmen — Khairi Clark and Thomas Holley — have entered the competition and should provide plenty of motivation for Brantley and Bostwick to elevate their games to where the coaches wanted them to be back in the spring.

Can Debose make most of sixth season?

The player Urban Meyer once referred to as the next Percy Harvin has one more chance to emerge as a dynamic player on offense, thanks to the NCAA granting him a sixth year after blowing his knee out in camp a year ago. Debose has shown electrifying playmaking ability as a kick returner. The coaches remain hopeful that those skills will finally be evident at wide receiver, where Debose seemed close to reaching his potential before he got hurt last August. He seems a good fit for the new spread offense.

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