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August 13, 2014

Wednesday Practice Instant Analysis


INSIDER FOOTBALL PRACTICE: Wednesday Live Practice Updates | 10 Tuesday Practice Tidbits
In-depth Offensive Observations | In-depth Defensive Observations | Kurt Roper talks Florida offense
Practice Instant Analysis: Top five performers | Live Practice Updates | Ask The Staff: Practice Q&A

With the sun beating down, the Gators held their fifth practice open to the general public at Dizney Lacrosse Stadium on Wednesday morning as spectators watched on with sweat dripping down their foreheads. Inside the Gators will have more observations of day 10 of fall camp later today, but here's an Instant Analysis of what happened Wednesday.

QUICK OVERVIEW: Wednesday's productive practice saw a lot of special teams work, including punting practice, kickoff formations and field-goal attempts from all ranges. Situational drills were also a staple - the Gators practiced 11-on-11s with the first team down 20-17 with 2:45 remaining. Despite the hot conditions, Florida's athletes battled through the heat and pushed on during positional drills. In the big picture, Wednesday was another building block in a lot of aspects.

THUMBS UP: Defensive backs. The past couple of practices have seen the secondary make poor decision after poor decision, but the secondary had something to prove Wednesday. During 1-on-1 drills, they came up with three interceptions. Even without starting safety Keanu Neal in the mix, they were much more patient and made better reads against UF's tall receivers.

THUMBS DOWN: Pass protection. Once again the Gators struggled in this department. Florida's pass rushers owned the offensive tackles in two-minute drills and found multiple opportunities to sack its quarterbacks off the edge if it were a regular season game.

1. Gerald Willis - The freshman defensive linemen owned Florida's tackles during the final two-minute drills, beating the edge and getting to the quarterback on multiple plays.
2. Marcus Maye - Maye has had a few rocky practices recently, but he bounced back in big fashion Wednesday. Finally wearing a full-contact jersey, the redshirt sophomore looked comfortable at both nickel and safety and made an interception in the final two-minute drill.
3. Alex McCalister - The 6-foot-6, 246-pound pass rusher was out of a non-contact jersey and was as successful as Willis when getting to the quarterback. He, too, won the battle against the offensive tackles and looked sharp despite shoulder issues.
4. Mack Brown - With Matt Jones out of practice and Kelvin Taylor in the pit, Brown saw a lot of first-team reps Wednesday. The redshirt senior running back couldn't get good blocking often on run plays but made a few nice catches in space.
5. Mark Herndon - With a shorthanded unit, Herndon also got his opportunities and made the most of them. The junior tailback took it up the middle twice for two big gains during 11-on-11s.

THIS AND THAT: Jones and Trip Thurman were not at Wednesday's practice. Jones, who had knee swelling, practiced Tuesday but in limited fashion. Vernon Hargreaves III, Adam Lane and J.C. Jackson wore orange non-contact jerseys, while Maye wore a white, full-contact jersey for the first time since Thursday. McCalister also returned to wearing a full-contact jersey. ... Andre Debose (knee swelling) and Taven Bryan (strep throat) returned to practice in full-contact jerseys. ... Taylor (strained hamstring), Neal, Duke Dawson (shoulder), and Daniel McMillian spent their practice exercising in the pit. Dawson and McMillian spent the majority of their time riding bicycles.

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