As the Gators began Saturday’s early morning football practice, coach Dan Mullen implored the team to continually question whether or not they’re giving optimal effort.
“Learn to play with maximum effort,” he said. “Strain every rep.”
Despite the chilly weather, Florida appeared to abide by Mullen’s message in a practice that ultimately featured several heated moments.
The session was once again open to the public, and more than 200 fans capitalized on the opportunity to witness Florida’s sixth spring drills at the Sanders Practice Fields. Now in the third padded practice, the Gators increased the live portions at the expense of one-on-one action.
The Gators are expected to hold another open practice Thursday before concluding camp with the spring game on April 13.
Observations from Saturday:
Quarterback Feleipe Franks’ first pass was into double coverage intended for receiver Kadarius Toney, who had a foot on cornerback CJ Henderson. But it fell just short of reaching either player.
On the next play, Franks found receiver Kyle Pitts across the middle for a 35-yard completion. Freshman defensive back Chris Steele provides solid coverage.
Quarterback Emory Jones’ first pass was intercepted by safety Brian Edwards. Jones found receiver Trevon Grimes for a short completion on the very next play with linebacker Ventrell Miller in coverage. Edwards had a tipped interception several plays later on a pass intended for receiver Rick Wells.
Redshirt freshman receiver Jacob Copeland made a 20-yard reception in space from freshman quarterback Jalon Jones.
Steele redeemed himself when Franks rotated back in. The freshman early enrollee defended receiver Van Jefferson on a post route to force the incompletion.
Despite defender Amari Burney holding Kemore Gamble, Franks found the tight end for a 30-yard reception midway through the period.
An early nosebleed didn’t hold out quarterback Kyle Trask. The signal-caller from Manvel, Texas, made several impressive throws during the 7-on-7 period, including putting a pass on the money to a leaping Pitts.
Franks continued his impressive start to spring camp, and he came out confident Saturday. Franks consistently ran the call with confidence, including one sequence where he drew a face mask penalty on transfer Jon Greenard, much to the dismay of the 270-pound defensive lineman.
Franks’ offensive line has remained the same, with Stone Forsythe and Jean Delance holding down the left and right tackle spots, respectively. Delance appeared to hold a blitzing cornerback on one sequence, drawing the ire of assistant coach John Hevesy.
Freshman offensive lineman Ethan White worked with the second-team offense at left guard. Redshirt freshman Richard Gouraige lined up at left tackle and often drew the assignment of junior defensive lineman Zach Carter. The two had several competitive battles throughout the day.
Emory Jones worked with the first team offensive line at times, with Malik Davis next to him in the backfield. Jones showed a tendency to run after his first pass fell short of Wells, and the redshirt freshman took off for a first-down run on the second play of the series.
Jones rolled out to his right and hit Copeland for a 25-yard gain, drawing applause from those in attendance. Copeland, who missed the first week of practice with what Mullen labeled a hamstring injury, didn’t appear to be limited in practice.
Zach Carter, who has worked with both the first and second-string defenses, got into the backfield to bat down Franks’ pass at the line of scrimmage. It was the first of several times Saturday the junior defensive lineman would be in UF’s backfield.
On the very next play, Franks sensed the coverage and hit receiver Tyrie Cleveland for a 20-yard gain along the sideline.
Iverson Clement made several players miss at the line before safety Shawn Davis, who recently returned to practice, delivered a hard tackle before the redshirt freshman running back could get to the next level.
At times, things escalated. White seemingly defended Franks on what the lineman believed was an unnecessarily hard hit by Carter on the quarterback. Franks proceeded to spike the ball at the helmet of Carter, leading several players to join in.
Later, Clement caught a screen pass and spun a defender before he was pushed to the ground by Carter. Clement, seemingly taking offense to the contact, proceeded to get up and toss the ball at Carter. The two playfully jawed back and forth.
Offensive lineman Brett Heggie was limited during the day, and trainers were looking at his right hand near the end of practice. Heggie already had the same arm wrapped prior to practice.