The hitting and physicality stepped up a notch as the Gators completed the one-third mark of spring practice with their fifth practice in the past week Wednesday. Increased intensity led to the feistiest and most telling practice yet.
THUMBS UP: Florida's defensive line certainly looked the part, and keep in mind this is all while missing an expected starting defensive tackle. The Gators were especially dominant off the edges, thanks to Dante Fowler Jr. and Bryan Cox Jr. putting together outstanding days. … Quarterback play continues to be inconsistent, but the bright spots we're incredibly bright today. Will Grier hit Raphael Andrades on a perfect pass in the corner of the end zone during one-on-one drills and later connected with Gideon Ajagbe on a deep wheel route during 11-on-11. Jeff Driskel had his share of big-time moments as well, specifically a couple strong passes on post routes in third-down passing drills.
THUMBS DOWN: Less than 30 minutes into practice, D.J. Durkin was lighting into his defense for a lack of intensity. The lecture got to most of them, but redshirt freshman defensive tackle Caleb Brantley never seemed to respond. He was later ripped by Brad Lawing and had a lackadaisical nature throughout practice. … Snaps were once again trouble for both centers. It once again never turned into a turnover, but multiple busted players were created by Max Garcia rolling snaps or Cameron Dillard shooting them too high. … It was another rough day for freshman cornerback Jalen Tabor, who has struggled in his last three practices. Tabor was beat handedly by Ahmad Fulwood throughout much of the practice.
FIVE WHO STOOD OUT
1. DE Bryan Cox Jr.: With Leon Orr out and Jonathan Bullard taking additional snaps inside, Cox continues to work a lot of first-team snaps at end and is a major disruptor in doing so. He beat D.J. Humphries baldy during late drills and derailed both run and pass plays.
2. LB Jarrad Davis: He continues to be Florida's most active playmaker in a linebacker trio that has performed fairly evenly thus far. Davis stripped Kelvin Taylor while getting first-team snaps.
3. WR Quinton Dunbar: After beating Vernon Hargreaves III inside for a one-on-one touchdown, Kurt Roper complimented him for a "hell of a route." He's been running a lot of those and has thus pulled away a bit as the No. 1 wide receiver.
4. Buck Dante Fowler Jr.: Just a lethal combination of speed and power, Fowler seems to be in the kind of groove he could never quite find after Dominique Easley went down in 2013. He's too much for Florida's tackles to handle.
5. CB Duke Dawson: He's been the target of Travaris Robinson and Will Muschamp a couple times, but he keeps correcting his mistakes and earning enough respect to garner a lot of meaningful snaps. He's also physically impressive for a freshman.
THIS AND THAT: Defensive back Nick Washington worked in a non-contact jersey for the first time this spring. … There was a brief skirmish late in practice when Antonio Morrison and Kelvin Taylor had to be broken up by Michael Taylor while a few linemen exchanged words and shoves as well. … The defense had its way a large portion of the day, but it was the offense that scored three times out of four in goal line drills late in practice. … Junior Latroy Pittman took over first-team snaps at slot receiver for the vast majority of Wednesday's practice. Andre Debose (knee) took part in walkthroughs for the first time this spring. ... Redshirt freshman wide receiver Marqui Hawkins moved to safety Wednesday and now wears No. 29.