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August 16, 2013

Notebook: Judgement Day (sort of)

GAINESVILLE -- Who knew Normandy beaches washed up into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium?

According to coach Will Muschamp, Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, is D-Day for his football team.

The Gators held their second scrimmage of training camp today in The Swamp, and Florida’s coach said it’s time to figure out who going to contribute in the fall and who is going to hold the water.

“This is moving day for a lot of guys,” Muschamp said. “We’ve got to start narrowing reps.”

Muschamp said he’s already warned the underclassmen of the ensuing changes, while the veterans are well aware of the process.

“We can’t continue to give some guys reps at positions where we’re wasting our time,” he said. “We’ve got to move forward with the guys we need to go into the season with and really concentrate and develop the young players on the team.”

Safety, tight end, wide receiver and kicker remain ongoing battles, and Muschamp wasn’t ready to name any specific positions Florida's staff is ready to thin out.

“That’s my question for our coaches: Alright, who do you count on? Not necessarily on August 31, but in game three, four, five,” he explained. “Who’s going to be the best player for the University of Florida in those games? Let’s take our growing pains if we have to, but let’s get those guys ready.”  


Promising freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III was noticeably missing from Thursday’s open practice. According to Muschamp, Hargreaves sprained his shoulder during Wednesday’s practice and won’t be cleared for about a week.

Muschamp said tailback Matt Jones (viral infection) is improving, but “we still don’t have a clear timetable for his return.”

The rest…

Offensive guard Jon Halapio (torn pectoral) and defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (patella) should be cleared by game week (Aug. 25).

First-team fullback Hunter Joyer (hamstring) remains out, while offensive lineman Octavius Jackson (shoulder), linebacker Alex McCalister (shoulder), offensive lineman Quinteze Williams (illness) and cornerback Jaylen Watkins (foot) are all “day-to-day.”

100 SNAPS?

Loucheiz Purifoy is primed to do his best 1998 Champ Bailey impersonation.

Bailey, a former two-way star, averaged close to 100 snaps per game as a junior, playing offense, defense and special teams for Georgia. 

Florida’s electric defensive back may not reach such a lofty number of plays, but it’s possible.

Purifoy’s fall workload will include snaps as a starting cornerback, receiver, gunner and kick returner.

“He can run and go all day,” defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said. “Last year he played every defensive snap, and you see us punting the ball or kicking off and he’s the first one down the field. … I think obviously he can do it. We feel he can do it.”

Purifoy said he has no fears of getting tired and hopes to play as many snaps as the coaching staff will allow.

The staff remains coy on Purifoy’s exact number of plays but acknowledged the junior’s fatigue -- especially in the Florida heat -- will be closely monitored.

“It’s just one of those things you have to manage and control throughout the game,” Durkin said. “We’re gong keep a close track of that.”


Durkin said suspended linebacker Antonio Morison provided a spark to the team when the sophomore returned to practice late last week.

“I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not, but we had a great practice the day he came back,” Durkin said.

The veracity of Morrison’s two-game suspension remains a reticent storyline around camp, but Durkin did say Morrison’s teammates were happy to have their starting middle linebacker return.

“[Morrison] has been a pro about it since he came back,” Durkin said. “Everyone was excited to see him. He’s their guy.”


(Courtesy of OnlyGators.com)

“Oh I saw it. That was a heck of a hit. I didn’t teach that. It’s natural. Some coaches try to take credit for that stuff, I don’t.” -- Muschamp on Jon Bostic’s hit

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

They Said It: Florida's behemoth JUCO-tackle

Trenton Brown is buried a bit on Florida's depth chart, but he’s impossible to miss.

(Courtesy of Florida/247Sports)

At 6-foot-8, 363 pounds, the junior college transfer from Georgia Military College is the tallest player to suit up for the Gators since walk-on offensive lineman Kyle Newell (6’8”, 300) in 2008, only Brown outweighs Newell by a good 60+ pounds.

The JUCO-transfer struggled mightily in his first open practice on Thursday, but for much of training camp we've heard nothing but positive reviews of Brown's play. 

Earlier this week, Brown’s teammates had plenty to say about Florida’s mammoth offensive tackle. 

Check it out...

C Jon Harrison

-- “Golly, I feel like a child next to him. Really I do. He’s a big boy, big joker.”

-- “First time I saw him, I’m like that’s a big man, he can be monster as long as he puts his mind to it.”

DE Dante Fowler Jr.

-- “It is scary. I never want Trenton to fall on me. If he does, I’m pretty sure my body will be imprinted in the grass. I don’t want that to happen.”

-- “He has a nasty streak, but you don’t want that nasty streak to come out I’ll tell you that.”

-- “Trenton Brown is the biggest person I ever saw in my life. …When you see that big body around you, you don’t know what to do. Next thing you know you run into him, and that’s not a good thing to do.”

LT D.J. Humphries

-- He's like a comedian. We love him. Coach says he doesn't talk a lot, but he always talks around us. It's not much you can coach about 6'9". He's just massive.”

-- “I dont know if you guys ever watch the show "Phineas and Ferb?" The brother Phineas never says anything, but when he does it's usually like detailed and hilarious. When Trent says something it's always like, 'OHHH.' He's always just chill and you usually just get a 'yes' or 'no' out of him for the most part, but when he says something you're like, 'Wow.' He just said that.”

-- "My plates are usually bigger because we're on a different path right now." – (said laughing)

RG Tyler Moore

-- It took us all back. We all felt like we were in third grade again, looking up at a high schooler.”

-- “I’m not used to looking up at guys. I’m used to looking at guys or looking down. I haven’t looked up at somebody in a while.”

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

UF's open practice: The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

GAINESVILLE -- The Gators held their first of four open practices on a beautiful Thursday evening in front of over 1000 fans at Dizney Lacrosse Stadium.

Florida conducted its traditional 16-session, 2+ hours practice complete with 1-on-1 drills, multiple 11-on-11 sessions and lots of special teams work.

My observations of the night’s events…


* Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel was indisputably the top storyline of Thursday’s practice. The junior was sharp with his decision-making (especially during 7-on-7 skeletons) and threw the deep ball better than I’ve ever seen from him. Overall, Driskel looked crisp and confident.

* Demarcus Robinson is going to be a stud, ya’ll. Shoot, he’s already Florida’s top WR (yes that’s like being the skinniest kid in Heavyweights, but still). The freshman sent the crowd into a frenzy with the evening’s highlight play: a ridiculous one-handed snag, beating Marcus Roberson for a touchdown. Robinson was a star in 1-on-1 drills, much to the chagrin of Florida’s top-notch secondary.   

* Dante Fowler Jr. was the best player on the field Thursday. No one -- not even left tackle D.J. Humphries (who otherwise had a strong practice) -- could block Fowler in 1-on-1’s. The menacing pass rusher abused tackles Trenton Brown and Chaz Green, recording multiple sacks during 11-on-11’s.

* Ronald Powell appeared fresh and played with lots of energy. The SAM backer displayed no signs of limited mobility and scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery on the first “scrimmage” play.

* Keanu Neal, a freshman safety, has received plenty of buzz lately and for good reason. Neal had a strong practice and blasted freshman tailback Adam Lane on a crossing route.

* Others who looked good Thursday: WR Quinton Dunbar, DE Joey Ivie, S Marcus Maye, LT D.J. Humphries.


* As good as the Driskel-Robinson connection was, overall, Florida’s offense remained traditionally stagnant during 11-on-11 sessions. The first-team line couldn’t block Fowler or Powell, while the running backs made minimal impressions in a “thud” atmosphere. 

* Marcus Roberson is a potential All-American, but he might want to delete Thursday’s practice from his memory. Roberson was slow, sluggish and seemed disinterested. Not surprisingly, the junior was torched on several deep balls by Robinson, Solomon Patton (Driskel’s best throw of the day) and Dunbar. 

* Bryan Cox Jr. was a spring star, but his name has yet to be mentioned this fall. Now we know why. Coach Will Muschamp and position coach Brad Lawing constantly scolded the defensive end for poor technique. Cox was manhandled by Florida’s first team tackles in 1-on-1’s.

* UF’s tight end battle remains unchanged. Clay Burton (who did fine Thursday) appears to have a stronghold on the first-team job, as backup underclassmen Colin Thompson and Kent Taylor received minimal reps. So much for the supposed improvements. 

* Oh, Adam Lane. I had such high hopes. Florida’s freshman tailback -- he of the MJD comparisons (5’7”, 220) -- had a rough go of it Thursday night. Lane dropped two passes in skeleton drills, missed a couple assignments during 11-on-11’s and was straight tattooed by a teammate over the middle. We’ll check back with him on Saturday.

Others who struggled: WR Raphael Andrades, WR Ahmad Fulwood, OL Trevon Young, CB Jeremy Brown.


* Mack Brown’s fumble (on a poor exchange from Driskel) led to a quick defensive touchdown and resulted in Brown’s brief “benching” from the drill.

* Mr. Trenton Brown. Florida’s mammoth tackle (6’8”, 365) wilted under the bright lights on Thursday. The junior transfer had a brutal showing in every setting. Brown was lost in protection, slow off the ball and utterly confused all night. His only reprieve was sideline lessons from starter D.J. Humphries. Name a pass rusher (really, go) and they probably beat Brown off the edge. 

* Florida better pray Driskel never gets hurt because its backup quarterback group is scarier than a M. Night Shyamalan film. Tyler Murphy was very average, and Skyler Morhinweg (RFR) and Max Staver (FR) were awful in minimal reps. Major accuracy concerns here.


Octavius Jackson (OL), Alex McCalister and Jaylen Watkins (DB) all worked out with trainers during practice. Later, Jon Halapio (torn pectoral) joined the group after taking part in non-contact drills… Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III was sidelined with a minor injury. … Injured nose tackle Damien Jacobs, tailback Matt Jones and fullback Hunter Joyer did not appear to be in attendance. … Valdez Showers (H-back) and Darrin Kitchens (LB) wore orange non-contact jerseys. … Freshman Trevon Young was seen working as an offensive tackle -- not tight end. … Purifoy took zero offensive snaps.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

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