By Mike-Mike McCall
Poor Joe is stuck covering the Final Four this weekend, so I get to sit in the big-boy chair today. The big news at practice was the return of receiver Carl Moore, who was back out there after missing the last two practices for "personal issues."
Urban Meyer seemed pretty accepting of Moore's time off. Then again, I guess he can't slam someone for taking a leave of absence, can he?
“It’s spring. Things happen, and you just have to take care of business," Meyer said. "He had some personal issues that had nothing to do with school or legal issues. He’s good. Young guys every once in a while go through something. He’s fine, but he does have to be a player for us. Has to be.”
Moore's brief disappearance did earn him at least a temporary demotion, though. Toward the end of practice, the Gators alternated drives between the first- and second-team offenses beginning at the far 30-yard line with 50 seconds on the clock. Moore mostly ran with the second team, where quarterback Trey Burton looked happy to have him. On one of those drives, Burton threw to more six times. Moore caught three but left the field after dropping the last one.
On that play, Moore ran a fly route against cornerback Jaylen Watkins, who had him covered tight. The 6-foot-3 Moore was hoping for a jumpball, but the pass was a bit short and he dropped it. A totally catchable pass, and not a bad throw considering the fact that Moore had no separation, but Moore complained that the pass wasn't "on point" and jogged to the sideline frustrated. Not a big deal--I've done the same thing playing flag football--just not the type of behavior you want to see from a redshirt senior who needs to be a team leader.
Hallandale High grad Frankie Hammond filled in for Moore the most with the first team, and he said Moore's time off wasn't a big deal.
“It’s just like if a guy were to get hurt," Hammond said. "If someone goes down, someone steps in to fill those shoes. It’s like a gametime situation. He went down, somebody else filled his shoes, he came back and just fit right in.”
A few other notes of interest:
-As if we needed more confirmation of this, Jeff Demps is really, really fast. He's still with UF's track and field team, and he won the 100-meter dash at the Florida Relays on Friday. Demps ran a 10.11, the fastest time recorded in the event this year in the world.
-Dwyer grad Matt Elam has really impressed the coaches at safety since enrolling earlier this semester. Meyer gushed a bit about him Friday: “Matt Elam will play next year. He’s earned that right already. He’s a hell of a player.”
-Meyer met with Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (yep, I can spell that without looking it up) for advice about taking a leave of absence. “I went up there and talked to him for a little while. I didn’t really meet with many guys, just my closest friends. He went through something where he had a health issue and took a year off, and I think the biggest thing I learned from him — without giving it much detail — is he surrounded himself with a pack of people he really trusts. If you look at his staff, they’re all former players, and he can do that because it’s such a small staff. I think that’s important, to get that foxhole mentality with guys who care about you and you care about them.”
-Justin Trattou and Mike Pouncey are the team captains, and Meyer singled out Will Hill, Ahmad Black, Janoris Jenkins and Jelani Jenkins as the other players who have stepped up into leadership roles this spring.
-There was a lot of talk last year about using more of a two-quarterback system with Tim Tebow and John Brantley. That never happened, but Meyer says this season will be that way, most likely with tight end Jordan Reed, who has worked out of the Wildcat.
“I think we do because we have to," Meyer said. "On 3rd-and-3, I know what we want to do, and Johnny isn’t probably going to do it because he’s not that kind of player. Everyone said we just ran Tim because he’s a great player, and that’s partially true, but the other part is because in a single-wing offense, you’re plus-one in the run game. Jordan Reed has proven he can do it, and this Trey Burton cat can run real well too. I think this will probably be the year we actually do it, a little bit like when we played Tim and Chris Leak.”
-Meyer also said the field cornerback position (opposite Janoris) still isn't set. Coral Springs native Moses Jenkins is the starter there for now, but Jeremy Brown, Adrian Bushell, Watkins and Josh Shaw are all in the running. I doubt this gets set until fall.
Also, Meyer kept up his streak of getting violent with reporters. After his Q&A session was over, he gave me a slap on the chest. If it bruises I'm calling the cops tomorrow. Hopefully he closes every press conference this year by striking a reporter. If that happens, Joe better watch it. He has a very hittable face.