SPRING: Detailed report on defense

Brandon Siler stepped up at today's scrimmage

Defensive end Derrick Harvey, linebacker Brandon Siler, and safety Kyle Jackson led the Florida defense to a victory over the offense in Saturday's scrimmage at the Gator Proving Grounds. This was the final big scrimmage before next weekend's annual Orange and Blue Game.

Harvey, who struggled often during the first week of spring drills, was simply outstanding today. He agreed when I noted that this was his best practice of the spring. Harvey recorded two sacks early in the scrimmage --- his first as quarterback Tim Tebow was setting up to throw. On that play, Tebow was under great pressure from Harvey, Jarvis Moss, and Tremaine McCollum who was blitzing from the corner. Harvey's second sack came a few minutes later when he blew by Maurice Hurt and sacked Tebow.

Moments later, Harvey recorded a tackle for loss on DeShawn Wynn. Harvey was also responsible for several hurries, forcing Leak and Tebow to step away from the pressure. He also played soundly against the run. He was impressive running backside pursuit when the play was going away from him.

His play was downright inspiring, especially when you consider that he'll line up with likes of Ray McDonald, Marcus Thomas, and Joe Cohen playing alongside him.

Brandon Siler played the role of the hitman today. The best two licks during today's scrimmage were courtesy of Siler Productions.

Late in the scrimmage, when the offense was lined up in their Jumbo backfield package in goal line drills, the ball went to Markus Manson who seemingly saw a slight seam. However, as he stepped into the hole he was met by Siler who not only stood him straight up, but knocked him backwards on his fanny. I think it safe to assume that Manson saw the seam and just as quickly saw stars.

A few plays later, Siler did the same to receiver Jemalle Cornelius who had just hauled in a shovel pass from Leak. Just as they did after his first hit, the team ran over and celebrated with Siler en masse.

Siler was typically everywhere. Outstanding day, once again for the captain.

The other player who came away big today was safety Kyle Jackson, who picked off two passes. His first big play came when Tim Tebow threw a deep ball down the middle into the endzone. Jackson read the play all the way. As he approached, Jackson leapt when the ball was at its highest point and snagged the pass from the receiver. It was a textbook INT.

Jackson's second pick of the day occurred when Tebow steeped up in the pocket amid pressure from defensive lineman Vernon Shelton and fired a ball that Jackson once again had read looking into the backfield. After the play, one of the defensive players yelled out, "Hey Tebow, you can't do that with Kyle Jackson back there"

LINE: The star among this group was Harvey. Joe Cohen and Jarvis Moss were probably the most consistent players outside of Harvey. Tackles Clint McMillan and Luttrell Alford also had good workouts. Personally, Alford's performance was among his best this spring. Some highlights…

Javier Estopinian made a few good plays today. He even got some early pressure on the quarterback on occasion. Overall though, he was inconsistent. After getting a couple of pressures and dragging down Manson for a solo tackle, he was kicked out by a guard on a play that went for big yardage. He was scolded by a coach for not getting off a block and getting pressure on the quarterback a couple of series later.

Luttrell Alford played perhaps his finest performance of the spring. Alford got pressure on Leak on the first play of the day as Leaks fired incomplete. Later, he made a beautiful play stuffing the center of the line of scrimmage forcing the back to cut right into the arms of linebacker Ryan Stamper who had filled the gap. He made a nice open field tackle on Wynn as he broke through the line of scrimmage. Alford had grabbed him by the ankle as he dove for the back.

Darryl Gresham seems to be improving. Despite recording a sack, Gresham's best play was a little offensive trickery as Jemalle Cornelius came back to the left on a reverse. Gresham stayed home and held JCorn at bay until his teammates arrived to snuff the play out. Gresham wasn't able to turn him back inside, but he didn't also JCorn to get to the sidelines where he would have been able to turn on the jets.

Gresham got the sack as the offense began back on its own three-yard line. Tebow bobbled the shotgun snap and under instant pressure ran left where Gresham tagged him just across the goal line.

LINEBACKER: Coach Urban Meyer and linebacker Brandon Siler reiterated that the play among the reserves has been disappointing this spring. Certainly, they hope to light a fuse under a few guys with those remarks. Challenge aside, the reality is that they're correct. Is there anybody interested in challenging for a role?

We've seen some good play, but a lot of average play as well. Today really wasn't much different. There were some fine plays by Ryan Stamper and Darryon Robinson, and Brian Crum, but overall their play was yet again inconsistent. With time running out this spring, this group needs to step up.

Stamper stayed with his assignment and did not bite on a Tebow fake to the back, which he ran left. Stamper stepped up, forced Tebow inside, and wrapped him up. He was in on a few other tackles, but again was inconsistent.

Much of the same can be said for Robinson. He made a few plays, but failed to make the stop on others. The talent is there with both of these guys, but the overall play needs to be more aggressive.

Everett was very, very good. He recorded a sack on Leak and dropped Manson for no gain twice.

SECONDARY: Kyle Jackson is played back to his old form. He was terrific in coverage today. While I don't believe that Leak or Tebow feared throwing the ball downfield- you can bet that Jackson's presence was felt. You'd be crazy not to concern yourselves with his whereabouts.

Avery Atkins was out today, an excused absence to take care of some family matters.

Reggie Lewis was the only obvious star among the corners. He had good coverage on several plays. Lewis was trailing Cornelius on his fly for a long touchdown. Lewis was obviously looking for deep help from a safety.

Sadly, remaining corners Tremaine McCollum and Lamont Sheppard really never stepped up consistently today. They had their share of good coverage and blown coverage. Sheppard's best play was a sack on a corner blitz. We all knew that Florida has little depth at corner, it showed often today.

The play at safety was good overall. Jackson and Joiner played very well. Joiner laid the lumber on Cornelius Ingram. He hit Ingram and knocked his helmet off while getting assist on the tackle.

Dorian Munroe had some very good plays, such as his coverage on Tookes and David Nelson (separate plays). However, he blew an opportunity to make a big play in red zone scrimmage work. Tebow took the ball, ran left, and pitched it to Kenneth Tookes, who cut back inside and ran for a touchdown. Munroe didn't stay on Tookes' hip and was left laying on the grass.

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