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UF practice observations: Day 3 of training camp

GAINESVILLE -- Florida held its third preseason practice Saturday morning. Here are some brief takeaways and general observations from the five flex periods open to the media on a hot and muggy morning. 

First: the highlight from the media’s allotted viewing period. 

That’s perfect technique -- with a flair of a one-handed interception.  

*** I was around the secondary a bunch Saturday, and Florida’s defensive backs are simply an impressive group. Shocking, I know. They’re all big, long and athletic. 

A year in the program has done wonders for Jalen Tabor, Quincy Wilson, Duke Dawson and Deiondre Porter. They’re all so much thicker without losing any speed or lateral quickness. 

Vernon Hargreaves is clearly the star, but Neal seems poised for a breakout season. 

*** Antonio Morrison was moving OK, but it’s clear why coach Jim McElwain considers the senior linebacker so important to the defense -- even if Morrison can’t really play yet.

Morrison is always talking and yelling, oftentimes acting as a second position coach on the field.

Meanwhile, Georgia Tech transfer linebacker Anthony Harrell had his left knee wrapped and did not participate in the early portions of practice. 

*** Several of the open periods were spent in positional drills, with the receivers and tailbacks practicing pass protection fundamentals, the linebackers practicing run assignments, the offensive linemen working on footwork, etc.

The main takeaway: Tempo. The Gators practice with pace. 

*** Finally, the quarterbacks. Following practice, I tweeted:

The sample size caveat isn’t a hedged bet as much as it is a full disclosure point.

Still. It’s really simple, Grier, who has plenty of room for improvement, is head and shoulders better than Treon Harris.

The redshirt freshman’s added weight was key, but it also seems like a year not playing has really slowed things down for Grier. His footwork and mechanics are better, and he carries himself with a certain aura.

Grier shined during multiple skeletons passing drills, especially during the “on air” route tree. He threw a couple gorgeous 35-yard touchdowns on deep corners, hitting Chris Thompson and Ahmad Fulwood in stride on consecutive throws. Grier’s shorter passes (the quick hitches, screens, throws to the flat) were all on point, too. 

Meanwhile, Harris, who wore a Go-Pro camera on his helmet, struggled mightily during the open periods.

He connected on a few really nice throws, but the sophomore remains too inaccurate in the pocket. McElwain chewed Harris out during one pass skeleton drill against air. Dawson and Wilson both intercepted Harris during a different drill. 

Florida won’t officially tab Grier as the starter for another couple weeks, but the ballyhooed “battle” appears short-lived.  

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

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