First practice with pads

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The Gators put on the pads for the first time this spring, and there was plenty of big-time hitting going on Saturday morning and early afternoon on the practice field.

The best moments came late in the session, when the offense and defense went head-to-head from the 12-yard line going in to determine a winner for the day (it was the offense, as it turned out, which scored more times than it was stopped).

Here are some of the highlights of the goal-line scrimmage:

  • Southern Cal transfer Emmanuel Moody scored on a 12-yard run. He broke free on the right side, made two defenders miss, then carried starting safety Major Wright into the end zone for the TD.
  • Tight end Aaron Hernandez caught a Tim Tebow pass in the left flat and sprinted toward the corner of the end zone, where he survived a big-time collision with Wright to get the score. The TD really jacked up the offense, with Tebow and the linemen piling on Hernandez in the end zone in celebration.
  • Cameron Newton, who is battling John Brantley for the backup role behind Tebow, threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver David Nelson, who caught the ball at about the 7 and weaved his way through traffic for the score.
  • A few minutes later, Newton threw another TD strike, this one to Percy Harvin in the left corner of the end zone on third-and-10.
  • Tebow threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Louis Murphy.
  • On a fourth-and-goal from the 1, tailback Kestahn Moore was nailed short of the goal line and lost both the ball and his shoe. To celebrate the stop, outside linebacker Dustin Doe picked up Moore’s shoe and heaved it to about the 40-yard line.
  • In what was the hit of the day, safety Ahmad Black blew up Newton in the backfield for a big loss, which triggered a huge celebration by the defensive players and coaches.
  • Newton recovered from the Black hit and threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Carl Moore moments later. Moore made a nice catch in traffic.
  • Some of the standouts on defense during the scrimmage were cornerback Wondy Pierre-Louis, linebacker Brandon Spikes, defensive end Carlos Dunlap and defensive tackle Torrey Davis.
  • Defensive tackle Troy Epps, a junior college transfer, was pulled from the lineup by new defensive line coach Dan McCarny when Epps mouthed off to some offensive players after a play.

Earlier in the practice, the Gators held their circle of life drill, where players go head-to-head in a collision/tackling drill.

In the circle of life (we in the media call it the circle of death, by the way), Torrey Davis and Jim Tart went at it in an intense, physical battle. After a standoff, the two went again and ended up getting into a brief scuffle.

The quote of the day belonged to Urban Meyer. After Carl Moore put freshman cornerback Jeremy Brown on his back in the drill, Meyer shook Moore’s hand and said, “Welcome to Florida, glad to have you here.”