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Swag-steppin' dirt: Observations from the south end zone

It was a wet and gloomy Saturday morning in Gainesville.

Apropos for Florida’s second open practice.

Unlike Thursday’s spirited practice, Saturday’s session was quite sluggish.  

A day removed from Friday’s “D-Day” scrimmage, UF’s players (specifically on offense) looked -- and performed -- listlessly in The Swamp.   

The Gators worked out in full pads, but the light practice was mostly non-contact positional drills, redzone work, special teams and zero live tackling.

The scattered fans in attendance seemed mostly bored unless they were watching Dominique Easley swag-step for two solid hours.

The defense played with more energy (thanks to Easley) and dominated the day, with the offense sprinkling in a few bright spots every now and then.


Here are my observations of Saturday’s practice… 

* Loucheiz Purifoy, teased as a two-way threat, again took zero offensive snaps. The junior cornerback had a nice day in coverage, physically dominating freshmen wideouts Ahmad Fulwood and Alvin Bailey. Purifoy also received work returning punts and kicks.

* It was difficult to evaluate UF’s tailbacks (Mack Brown, Kelvin Taylor, Adam Lane) with no live tackling but all three had issues in pass protection and catching the ball. Taylor did make some sweet cuts and was the No. 1 back in Florida’s final 11-on-11 2-minute drill.

* The Gators hurry-up offense? Yikes. Quarterback Jeff Driskel -- inconsistent Saturday with his decision-making and accuracy -- was running for his life during Florida’s ugly 2-minute drill. The receivers struggled to create separation, while the offensive line and tailbacks couldn’t block UF’s pass rush. Driskel did have a long scramble to set up Austin Hardin’s 42-yard “game-tying” kick. Earlier in practice, Driskel connected with Quinton Dunbar for a 20-yard TD on a bullet between two defenders -- easily his highlight of the day.

* Speaking of yikes: Florida’s backup quarterbacks. Skyler Mornhinweg and Max Staver might have a new tag-team nickname: Wild Thing No. 1 & Wild Thing No. 2. The underclassmen have some serious accuracy issues. Staver has a live arm and made a gorgeous seam throw to Raphael Andrades, but he’s very inconsistent. Very.

* Freshman WR Demarcus Robinson again looked the part as Florida’s deadliest offensive weapon. Solomon Patton and Dunbar did some nice things but overall were quiet.

* Whether it was Driskel, Tyler Murphy, Mornhinweg or Staver under center, Florida really, really labored to score touchdowns in the redzone -- without facing a pass rush. That’s not good.

* Several offensive linemen did well in 1-on-1’s including Tyler Moore (RG), Kyle Koehne (LG, C), Chaz Green (RT), D.J. Humphries (LT) and Trenton Brown (RT). Brown responded well after rough practice on Thursday. The top battle of the day was between Max Garcia (LG) and Leon Orr (DT). Orr, who looked fantastic Saturday, destroyed Garcia on the first rep. Line coach Tim Davis went ballistic and made MG go again and the junior transfer stoned Orr at the line.

* Graduate assistant Chris Leak taught the quarterbacks how to run the opinion -- Don’t worry. I don’t understand that either.

* Suspended linebacker Antonio Morrison worked mainly with the second-team, and the sophomore’s punishment appears ongoing. The linebacker was seen running sprints following the two-hour practice.

* Redshirt freshman Marcus Maye -- whether officially endorsed or not -- is Florida’s starting safety alongside Cody Riggs. On a similar note, Clay Burton is UF’s No. 1 tight end, while Austin Hardin (again, not officially endorsed) is most likely the starting placekicker.

* Other noticeable standouts: GOOD – Easley, Dante Fowler Jr. (what a surprise), Jon Bullard, freshman center Cameron Dillard, Daniel McMillian (LB), Marcus Roberson (nice recovery from Thursday). NOT THEIR DAY – Latroy Pittman (seems to be a theme here), DT Jay-nard Bostwick (he’s huge, but it’s just taking him some time to learn the nuisances of the position), Mack Brown (pass protection, pass protection)


* OL Octavius Jackson participated in practice but was sporting an orange non-contact jersey. LB Darrin Kitchens was also non-contact, but RB Valdez Showers had been cleared.

* Jon Halapio (torn pectoral) wore full pads for the first time in camp, but the injured guard barely participated in practice.

* Vernon Hargreaves III (shoulder sprain), out, had a heavy-duty sling/brace on his left shoulder

* DL Jordan Sherit (knee) returned to practice.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton


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