For the first time this fall, Florida held an open a practice at the Dizney Lacrosse Stadium on a beautiful Thursday night. Inside the Gators has in-depth coverage forthcoming, but first, a rapid reaction of the night's events.
QUICK OVERVIEW: Florida conducted its usual 16-session, 2+ hours practice full of 1-on-1's, special teams drills and several 11-on-11's in front of more than 1000 fans. With a scrimmage scheduled for Friday, the practice's intensity was scaled back a bit.
THUMPS UP: Overall, the practice was very positive for some of UF's biggest question marks. Quarterback Jeff Driskel was sharp and appeared very confident throwing the deep ball to his newest collection of receivers. Freshman wide out Demarcus Robinson made the highlight of the day, snagging a one-handed touchdown over Marcus Roberson on a deep sideline go-route. Florida's defensive line, particularly the first unit, played well in the 11-on-11's. Dante Fowler Jr. was a monster and was virtually unblockable in every setting on Thursday. Redshirt junior Ronald Powell displayed no signs of limited mobility and scooped up a fumble for a touchdown during one 11-on-11 session.
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THUMBS DOWN: It wasn't all sunshine and roses for the Gators though, as several newcomers really struggled in their first open practice. Junior transfer tackle Trenton Brown had a brutal practice and was constantly seeking starter D.J. Humphries for counsel on the sidelines. Freshman running back Adam Lane made a couple nifty plays, but overall he struggled catching the ball in drills, missed assignments during scrimmage settings and was waxed on a play by freshman safety Keanu Neal. Finally, Florida's heralded secondary had some rough moments. Roberson, in particular, probably wants to erase Thursday's practice from his memory. Louchiez Purifoy was also beat multiple times in 1-on-1 drills. The rest: Bryan Cox Jr., Jabari Gorman and quarterbacks Max Staver, Tyler Murphy and Skyler Mornhinweg.
FIVE WHO STOOD OUT:
1. QB Jeff Driskel - Crisp, confident and in control. Thursday's practice was the best I've seen Driskel throw the ball at Florida.
2. WR Quinton Dunbar - While Robinson made a handful of impressive catches, Florida's junior wide out displayed his improved route running and hands. Dunbar skied for a sweet grab on a corner route and preformed well in 1-on-1's.
3. LT D.J. Humphries - When the sophomore left tackle wasn't on the sidelines coaching up Brown, Humphries was seen stoning Dominique Easley, Powell and others on a regular basis.
4. DL Joey Ivie - The freshman defensive end was active, very physical and displayed solid edge rushing ability. Ivie smoked Chaz Green during a 1-on-1 drill.
5. DE Dante Fowler Jr. - He's Florida's best player, without question. The sophomore flashed all his skills Thursday, constantly beating his teammates off the edge with a bull rush, a swim move or a straight speed rush.
THIS AND THAT: Octavius Jackson (OL), Alex McCalister and Jaylen Watkins (DB) all worked out with trainers during the practice. ... Injured nose tackle Damien Jacobs, tailback Matt Jones and fullback Hunter Joyer did not appear to be in attendance. ... Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III was not present. A UAA spokesperson declined comment. ... Valdez Showers (H-back) and Darrin Kitchens (LB) wore orange non-contact jerseys. ... Freshman Trevon Young was seen working as an offensive tackle -- not tight end.
Stay tuned to Inside the Gators for in-depth Offensive and Defensive observations as well as a Practice Roundtable.