Instant Analysis: Fall camp kicks off

Jul 26, 2019 | 0 comments


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With just 29 days remaining until the season opener, the Gators held their first practice of fall camp on Friday morning.

Keep in mind that this was practice one of 20+, they weren’t wearing pads and the media only got to see about 40 minutes. So, take this analysis with a grain of salt, as a lot will change in the coming weeks.

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Thumbs Up: Coming off season-ending injuries in 2018, cornerback Marco Wilson and running back Malik Davis weren’t limited and looked like their old selves. Wilson worked with the first-string defense on the far side of the field, while Davis worked as the second running back. Davis still appears to have that electric first step and agility that made him a special player as a freshman in 2017. It’ll be interesting to see how they look when the pads go on and the offense and defense start to go against each other in the coming days.

Thumbs Down: For all the talk about Kadarius Toney becoming a more complete receiver this season, he seemed to regress a bit on Friday. The receivers were running a drill with the jug machine where they were supposed to catch the ball, freeze for a second and then cut upfield. Toney was the first receiver to drop a ball, and ended up dropping it two times in a row, prompting coach Billy Gonzales to tell him, “You’re running before you catch it.” Toney is lightning-quick with his feet, but he needs to slow down his hands and brain to secure the catch first.

EIGHT PART ANONYMOUS PLAYER PARTING THOUGHTS SERIES

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Five Observations

1. The first-string offensive line was the same as it was in the spring but flipped. In the blocking drills, Jean Delance played left tackle, Christopher Bleich left guard, Nick Buchanan center, Brett Heggie right guard and Stone Forsythe right tackle. Coach John Hevesy spoke on Thursday about how he likes to cross-train guys to play on both sides of the ball if needed. He probably also wanted to force them to rely on the techniques and fundamentals he’s teaching them rather than going off of muscle memory.

2. The Gators are about as healthy as could be expected. Freshman defensive lineman Lloyd Summerall was the only player working on the side while the rest of the team was stretching. Safety Jeawon Taylor was the only non-quarterback that wore a red non-contact jersey. It is unknown what injury each player is dealing with.

3. The defensive tackle depth chart looked a little bit different than many were probably expecting. Elijah Conliffe and Luke Ancrum worked with the ‘twos,’ while Tedarrell Slaton and Marlon Dunlap worked with the ‘threes.’ Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham mentioned Ancrum on Thursday as somebody they would use at tackle for depth. There’s a long way to go still, but that’s not a very encouraging sign for Slaton.

4. Despite wearing a non-contact jersey, Taylor ran with the ‘ones’ at safety, alongside Donovan Stiner. Brad Stewart and Shawn Davis comprised the second unit. Taylor’s very athletic, but he’s struggled with injuries throughout his career, and that’s apparently going to be the case in the early part of fall camp as well. If he can stay healthy, the Gators’ depth at safety will suddenly look a little bit better.

5. The quarterbacks and running backs ran a couple of drills together. In one, the quarterback took the snap and ran straight ahead, with the back serving as the lead ‘blocker.’ In the other, the quarterback pitched the ball to the running back on an option play. In both drills, Kyle Trask was the second quarterback up, and Malik Davis was the second running back. Davis working with the second unit is no surprise, but a lot of people thought Emory Jones was in line to be the backup quarterback. He still might be, but he wasn’t on Friday.

This & That

As you would expect, incoming freshman wide out Dionte Marks, who just arrived on campus earlier this week, was the last in the rotation during drills, going behind even the walk-ons. … Once again, the squad started the day with special teams drills. … Noah Banks lined up with the second string at right guard. … Punter Tommy Townsend was the very first player to arrive to practice. … Not long after he arrived, Nick Savage and Nick Buchanan had an all out footrace to the enterance to the practice fields. Savage, of course, won.

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