WHAT'S NEW: The crowds are crazy big. I hinted a few weeks ago that they made need to add more bleachers to accommodate the crowd because of the hype around town. A rough count before drills got really started had the crowd at 325 people. It was the largest crowd I can remember in 11 years of being on the field for a Florida Gator football practice…Last year Lance Butler was asked to get down to the 300 pound range. This year he was asked to get up to around 310. He currently weighs in at 309 and looks good with the added weight…Yesterday Reggie Lewis came in with the first nickel defense, with Jarvis Herring and Kyle Jackson playing strong and free safety respectively. Today, Herring slid down to the nickel some and Terrance Holmes and Kyle Jackson were deep...Yesterday, the only motion on offense was a receiver or tight end crossing the field before the snap and heading up field on the snap. DeShawn Carter worked out at safety late in practice. I didn't catch it early enough to see if he was there the entire practice…In Pas-skel or 7-on-7 drills, the offense almost exclusively lined up in a five wide set. Almost every time, the running back lined up all the way to the outside of the formation as the widest receiver. I am guessing the formation is designed that way to draw an extra linebacker all the way to the outside. This would in effect, create one less defender in the middle of the field. Maybe for a quarterback draw? …Blitzes, blitzes and more blitzes. The first two days of practice make it obvious that there will be a lot more blitzing under Charlie Strong and Greg Mattison. The strong safety seems to be a key in the blitz schemes.
THINGS I LIKED: Coach Chuck Heater continues to be very vocal out there and his players seem to be responding. The defensive backs certainly take to the five-yard fight drill and they are showing the effects in the pass-skel and one-on-one drills…I rally liked the five-yard fight drill. The DB's and WR's really get into it and seems to give the DB's a little more aggressiveness when it translates to the other drills and action on the field. Vernell Brown is one who is playing with serious aggressiveness…Nick Brooks is playing better and may be able to play at corner after all. I had him all but moved to safety after the staff last year wanted to move him there. He is playing hard in the one-on-one drills and not backing down…There is a lot of work being done on blocking kicks, both punts and field goals. I know Meyer is a big time special teams connoisseur and we are seeing it on the practice field…Dane Guthrie doesn't seem to have many ill effects from pulling up a little lame yesterday on a long pass pattern. He jogged a lot to warm up today before practice, but was out there running plays and in motion with the offense.
THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE: Not a lot of reps right now. The offense is moving along slow which should probably be expected under the new coaches and systems. But, there really aren't a ton of snaps out there. The one thing that may be holding that up is the lack of numbers at certain positions, namely quarterback. They don't want to wear them out…No Tony Joiner today. Coach Meyer reports that he was taking care of some personal problem.
HIGHLIGHTS: Jemalle Cornelius continues to impress tremendously in the one-on-one drill. He is the best at making sharp cuts and leaving a defender standing still while he breaks away. He got one of the biggest crowd responses of the day for one particular route…Dallas Baker caught a Go route on the outside from Chris Leak in the pass-skel drill…Earl Everett made a break inside and picked off a pass from Josh Portis about six yards beyond the line of scrimmage…Defensive tackles Ray McDonald and Michael Hill on separate plays curled out and picked off walk-on quarterback Matt Kynes during defensive drills.
LOWLIGHTS: Dallas Baker's star faded a bit today. He was excellent yesterday and still did some good things, but he dropped a few balls that he shouldn't today.
PLAY OF THE DAY: Kenneth Tookes was crossing the middle when the ball was thrown to him. Kyle Jackson broke on the ball and forced the ball in the air. Almost everyone froze except Chad Jackson and Brandon Siler. With the ball in the air, Jackson ran through it and skated toward the end zone unimpeded, except for Siler. "They are teaching us to run to the ball and always finish the play so I ran him down." Siler said. "He caught a tip and it was tipped around. I kept running hard. I kept chasing him till I caught him."
PLAYER OF THE DAY: It was two receivers yesterday and I'll go with a third receiver, Chad Jackson, this time. He caught the play of the day mentioned above. He also split the seam right down the middle of the field on a beautifully thrown Chris Leak pass for a long touchdown strike. He is just behind Cornelius with his cutting and making space with his route running.
THINGS HEARD AND SEEN: My unofficial stats had Chris Leak 8-12 with two would be touchdowns during pass-skel drills. No terrible throws. Portis unofficially went 9-12 with an interception and another pass that should have been, plus the play of the day above…Coach Meyer yelling, "Don't stop till you hear the whistle, go to the ball!" …Ex-Florida Gator assistant Carl Franks was at practice today. He was here visiting with some coaches from the University of South Florida…. James Speer was also walking the sideline today. Speer played for the Gators in the early nineties and was a graduate assistant from 2002-04… Gator signee Louis Murphy was also in attendance today… South Sumter High school juniors Carlos Everett and Jarrod Fleming were here today to visit with the coaching staff and had to leave just before practice. Everett is the little brother of Earl Everett, weak side linebacker for the Gators.
CORRECTIONS: Yesterday, I mistakenly thought number 99 was Branden Daniel out there on the field. It turns out Daniel will miss all of spring due to a serious injury. The player I saw on second team at defensive tackle was Lutrell Alford, a transfer walk-on. According to Meyer, "It was serious surgery (Daniel)," said Meyer, "I doubt he'll be back this spring."