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March 22, 2007

Wednesday Blog: Practice Insider

This Blog will be updated continuously throughout the day. Make sure to hold the shift key when you hit the refresh button in order to see the latest additions.

GatorBait.net will have LIVE practice reports in the Alley as well as a post practice notebooks, a Meyer interview, News & Notes, photos, videos, other features and more.

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Check out the Alligator Alley for our live practice reports from Wednesday as well as our new feature Ask the Staff.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

5:19 p.m.Clearing out the Recorder

The running back rotation was Kestahn Moore first, Brandon James second, Mon Williams third followed by Chevon Walker fourth. … Of the kids who red shirted last year, one of the better looking players on the day was receiver Justin Williams. No he isn't going to take a job away from Caldwell, Harvin and company just yet, but what he did do was make a couple of nice plays on the day. What he has to do to get on the field more is become more consistent over the course of spring ball. … Early Enrollee Ahmad Black saw some action with the 2nd team defense during 11-on-11 drills. … During the second round of series during 11-on-11 drills, it was Cameron Newton going immediately after Tim Tebow - rather than Bryan Waggener following Tebow. And it just so happened to be Newton's best series of the day. … There's no hitting of the quarterbacks at anytime, but especially when they aren't in pads, but Jermaine Cunningham came through the line and got a two-hand touch sack on Newton - who stopped for a split second before the coaches informed him that he is supposed to take off running on the play. … During the 11-on-11 drills, when they were mixing and matching the defense, Ryan Stamper saw some action with the first team defense. … Marcus Gilbert was wearing a big brace on his left arm from the armpit down to the wrist.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

5:17 p.m.Final Thoughts from the First Practice

Brandon Antwine is a bit undersized, but he is running with the first team defense at nose guard. Though he isn't the ideal height or weight, he has good burst off the ball (which will allow him to get a jump on the center during the center/quarter back exchange) and Greg Mattison likes the way he can hold his ground because of his low base.

Mattison could be heard saying, 'That a boy B.A.' a couple of times during the practice session.

Staying on the defensive line, even at a listed 275-pounds, Trent Pupello still looked like he could carry another 10-15 pounds and still maintain his quickness. During positional drills the strong side ends work out with the tackles, and he looked at home there.

Not only did Brandon Spikes have a big interception of Bryan Waggener late in the practice, he obviously is going to be one of the vocal leaders of the unit along with Tony Joiner. He could be heard over the crowd a couple of times revving up his teammates. Of course, no one on that side of the ball has the mouth of Joiner - who was talking throughout the practice.

It's non contact, and if it were would he have done what he did? Who knows, but Cameron Newton showed some burst during 11-on-11 drills when he took off for a good 15-yard gain down the left side. He definitely moves well for his size.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

5:15 p.m.The Pass Catchers

The stars of the day were clearly Cornelius Ingram and Percy Harvin, but Bubba Caldwell and Paul Wilson also looked sharp on occasion.

As far as the tight ends are concerned, Tate Casey looked good catching the ball during positional drills, but then during 11-on-11's he dropped a pass that hit him in the hands from Bryan Waggener. What hurts there is that not only was that a money catch he should have made during live drills, but Aaron Hernandez followed that up by making a beautiful catch down the left sideline a little later on.

He didn't make a lot of plays down the field, but Jarred Fayson showed consistent hands in catching the ball within 10-yards of the line of scrimmage.

Another up and comer who was more on than off was Justin Williams who caught a long ball down the sideline over Bryan Thomas from Cameron Newton. Immediately after the play, Thomas was given some instruction by coach Holliday.

Not much was seen from Louis Murphy and David Nelson looked better during 1-on-1 drills than he did during 11-on-11.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

12:15 p.m.Transformations

Here are some of the players who stuck out the most on Wednesday because of how much they've changed their body makeup.

On top of this list has to be Jason Watkins. He came in with very little football experience having only gotten into the game late. Up until last year, he was basically tall with little to no bulk. That has certainly changed. Looking at him on Wednesday, his dedication to the weight room has become evident. He now has a much thicker upper body.

The same goes for Carlton Medder. He's never going to be one of the 'defined' guys, but he has lost a noticeable amount of body fat.

Corey Hobbs can be put into that category as well. He's borderline what Urban Meyer said he is looking for in his guards, two inches from being round. Last summer, he was simply round, now that he's lost a considerable amount of weight, he moves much better too.

A player who has gone in the opposite direction is walk-on Moise Paul. Last year he was at safety, this spring he has skipped a stopover at linebacker and moved straight to weak side defensive end. He is listed at 240-pounds, but might be a bit north of that.

Marcus Gilbert looks like he's put on a good 25-30 pounds since his senior season in high school, one short year ago. He has packed some upper body muscle on his tall, what used to be lean frame.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

12:10 p.m.The Backup O-line

The first team offensive line (from left to right - Trautwein, Tartt, Miller, Wilson and Medder) was discussed yesterday, so here is a quick look at the second unit.

At right tackle was freshman Carl Johnson (who is in much better shape this year as compared to this time last spring). In what might shock some, converted defensive tackle Corey Hobbs was the right guard, but it seemed like Simon Codrington got as many reps also. Eddie Haupt was at center (the first exchange in the shotgun formation went awry and the offense was pulled to the side). Lining up at left guard was Jim Barrie and then Jason Watkins was at left tackle.

That was just the first time through.

Later on the Pouncey Twins came rotated in at guard. Marcus Gilbert and Maurice Hurt (at center) rotated in with the second unit as well.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

7:14 a.m.The Race to Back Up Tebow

Although Bryan Waggener was the first of the two to follow Tim Tebow through most of the drills, he didn't do anything to separate himself from Cameron Newton after the first day of practice.

They both had their up and down's - though Newton's high points were a little higher and low points were a little lower.

Some impressions of the two:

The thing that stands out about Newton is how big he is physically - I mean huge. Even standing next to Tebow, he looks physically imposing.

His problem on Wednesday might have been a case of the nerves getting to him. He just looked to be pressing early on - first (maybe because he was trying to get more velocity on the ball) throwing everything low and hard - causing Dan Mullen to work with him on his throwing motion for minute or two.

He definitely has a gun, he doesn't need to try to add more zip on every throw to prove that.

Waggener, though he isn't as fluid a runner as either Tebow or Newton, during positional drills on the middle field, you could see he wasn't exactly a statue. I would put him in the same speed range as Chris Leak. We'll know more once he is running away from a defender.

Live action:

Really the two best throws of the day during 1-on-1 drills were completed by Newton - including a 30-plus yard toss to Cornelius Ingram over Tony Joiner. But on the other hand, he also had some of the worst throws including skipping a ball to a receiver that he looked like he tried to overthrow and it landed with a thud on the ground about 5-yards in front of the receiver.

During 7-on-7 drills - Waggener was 1-of-3 his first series, while Newton was 0-for-3 on his. On the second series, Waggener was 3-for-3. On the first pass of his second series, Newton threw an interception to Jamar Hornsby, but then completed his second toss to go 1-for-2. The third time through Waggener was 1-for-3, his big pass was hitting Justin Williams on a beautiful throw between two defenders. Newton is up next and his first throw is right into the hands of AJ Jones, but he can't hold on to it. He then rebounded to hit his next two finishing 2-of-3 on the series.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

7:07 a.m.Anderson Shines

If Tim Tebow was the player of the day - Markihe Anderson wasn't far behind as the sophomore cornerback not only drew praise from Urban Meyer, but also got a few small rounds of applause from the fans in attendance, which is hard for a defender to do short of making an interception.

Yes it was only the first day and no the pads aren't on yet, but that is what made Anderson's day even more impressive. Usually it is the receivers who hold the early advantage during spring practice because they know they aren't going to be hit or jammed especially hard coming off he line.

Anderson didn't win every match-up (no one does), but he won more than his share during 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 drills.

Thursday, March 22, 2007 

6:55 a.m.Haden's First Day at Corner 

While last week in Ft. Myers, Urban Meyer basically said that Markus Manson and Joe Haden would be cross trained on offense and defense, the two started off in a white (defense) jersey on Wednesday - and both saw plenty of action.

Of the two, Haden looked to be on a fast track to earning some playing time at the position. He worked extensively with the first unit defense during 11-on-11 drills and received plenty of coaching from Tony Joiner.

At one point, Joiner told him to force his man to the inside of the field - which he was able to do - drawing a favorable response from Joiner after the play.

Chuch Heater put in a lot of work with all the youngsters during positional drills - especially Ahmad Black, Markihe Anderson and Haden.

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