Florida Fall Practice 8/10: Gators go full pads, receivers work with running backs

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Two things stood out during today’s practice session: it was the team’s first in full pads, and the Gators got a little inventive on offense.

The most important thing is that there were no major injuries to speak of, although Travaris Dorsey and CJ Worton did suffer leg injuries. That’s always something to keep an eye out for, especially after Vernon Hargreaves came out of a scuffle last year with a bone bruise on his leg and had to be helped off the field.

The defense looked a little bit better than the offense in the full pads, but then again, the defense was supposed to be the team’s strength. Defensive players were flying all over the field making plays, and were at their best in the 11 on 11 drills. Most notably, Marcus Maye really had a big day, including intercepting a badly overthrown ball by Treon Harris that was intended for Brandon Powell (more on both of them later). The reason the interception was so easy for him was because he was in the right position as the safety, coming in to help out Jalen Tabor. These are the little things that the Gators didn’t do right last year, most notably against Alabama.

But that’s not to say the offense didn’t look good at all, because it did.

Though he didn’t have quite the flawless day he enjoyed in each of his first two practices, Will Grier nonetheless turned in another solid performance, hitting receivers in stride and demonstrating some really nice touch on some swing patterns and crossing routes. He continues to pull away from Treon Harris, who had another off day. Twice, Harris (who took some first team reps) had receivers open by a step, and twice he overthrew them. He actually did well to avoid what would have been a sack on one play, spinning out and rolling to his right, but then he threw a ground ball in the general direction of DeAndre Gooslby. He also overthrew him later in 11 on 11 drills.

We also got to see Doug Nussmeier get creative for the first time today. He worked with the running backs, making them take dozens of handoffs, and then he put a little twist into it. He called over former running back and covered receiver Brandon Powell over from the receiver group and had him take some handoffs as well, practicing running jet sweeps and reverses. Nussmeier would also call over all the other slot receivers and have them take a handoff or two themselves before dismissing them back to the receiver group.

We saw a little creativity from Kurt Roper last year, including a little jet sweep action with Powell and even Andre Debose in flashes, but it’s nonetheless good to see Nussmeier doing something beyond the boring, repetitive stuff this early in fall camp. Here’s hoping we see some more things like this as the season draws nearer.

Stay tuned for more updates throughout the week.