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March 19, 2014

Football Practice: In-depth Instant Analysis

Inside the Gators was in attendance as Will Muschamp and his 2014 squad hit the practice fields Wednesday. Much more is coming, but for now, here's a quick look at Florida's first open practice of the spring.

QUICK OVERVIEW: Football isn't played in shorts, but that's how the first day of spring practice operates. The Gators worked through the first of 15 practices Wednesday afternoon, focusing heavily on installation and adapting to three new assistant coaches.

THUMBS UP: New offensive coordinator Kurt Roper was the most engaged a Florida coach holding that title has been in quite some time. Florida, showing the first glance of its new offensive approach, worked entirely out of shotgun for every period that involved 11-on-11 work or skeleton passing drills. Quarterbacks didn't always shine, but Jeff Driskel looked substantially more comfortable working out of shotgun, and Will Grier followed suit. As expected, the defense - and in particular defensive backs - were miles ahead of the offense and had the biggest days overall.

THUMBS DOWN: A practice without pads is a glorified walk-through and that's essentially what the first day of practice amounted to aside from a couple periods that involved one-on-one drills. Therefore, it was pretty difficult to have a bad day unless you truly just had no idea what was going on during any given play. There were still plenty of drops and miscues. Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook did little to instill any faith that the tight end position somehow improved over the past couple months. Deandre Goolsby had similar troubles not only working through the offense but making catches when the opportunities came. Kelvin Taylor and various receivers all felt the wrath of either Muschamp or Roper at some point during the day.

1. S Jabari Gorman - Now sporting No. 2, the lone senior at safety was strong in coverage, intercepting Driskel during a skeleton drill. He worked with Marcus Maye when the first-team defense was on the field.
2. CB Vernon Hargreaves III - Florida's best player one season ago hasn't changed. Hargreaves had perfect position when Quinton Dunbar tried to beat him on a long go route at the start of one-on-one drills. He broke up the pass in the end zone and late lit up Demarcus Robinson on a jam at the line.
3. RB Valdez Showers - The speedy scat-back should play an increased role in Florida's new spread offense. He primarily lined up in the slot and was a popular option on underneath routes and bubble screens.
4. CB Jalen Tabor - The five-star freshman held his own in his first college practice. He showed the ability to be physical by getting into some battles at the line against Robinson and making a handful of plays in various passing drills.
5. LB Michael Taylor - It's tough for anyone aside from wide receivers, defensive backs and quarterbacks to stand out in what's essentially a non-contact practice, but Taylor brought great energy throughout the day.

THIS AND THAT: Taylor, safety Keanu Neal and defensive end Alex McCalister all left practice with minor injuries. Neal tweaked his hamstring, Taylor was hit in the thigh and McCalister had cramps. Southern California wide receiver Nelson Agholor was in attendance in the stands as the Trojans are currently on spring break. Agholor has numerous friends on Florida's team. Skyler Mornhinweg worked as the second-team quarterback with Grier taking third-team reps.

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