Florida fall practice 8/31: Sharpe works at LT, Scarlett continues to impress

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The Gators practiced last night outside, but thanks to some first day of school stuff for me, I wasn’t able to get a recap up until just now. Sorry about that.

Two things struck me from last night’s practice. The first one occurred on the part of the field where most Gator fans are watching with the most intensity, the offensive line. Surprise! Anyway, Florida is still trying to find an offensive line rotation that works until Martez Ivey returns from his leg injury. Ivey’s target return date is September 19th at Kentucky; if not then, September 26th against Tennessee. But as naturally gifted as he is, the Gators obviously can’t just sit around and wait for him to return, so Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Mike Summers continued to rotate guys around to find a mix that worked best.

One of the noteworthy moves on the offensive line was the shift of right tackle David Sharpe over to left tackle. Sharpe, for the most part, did very well, though he did get fooled once on a stunt by the front seven in 11 vs. 11 drills. If Sharpe does play at left tackle, that would mean Fordham transfer Mason Halter would switch spots with Sharpe and play right tackle.

The other thing that stuck out to me was the performance of running back Jordan Scarlett. OK, so there’s only so much a running back can do in a short practice where applying full force to teammates is frowned upon, but it looks like Scarlett’s footwork has gotten even better than it was in high school. He has very good feet to begin with, which can reduce a defender’s effort to stop him to an arm tackle, and they only seem to have gotten better since the high school tapes I’ve watched (I’m also guilty of not really noticing it in prior practices).

Scarlett also looked good in blocking drills. He demonstrates good pad level and comes at you with more force than he looks like he’s capable of delivering. He also just looks strong in general. On one occasion, he sent the pad the assistant coach was holding down flying. I can think of several ways that sort of strength and power could come in handy in a real game.

On another note, McElwain also said that he hopes to have a starting QB named soon after the season opener against New Mexico State. Both Will Grier and Treon Harris turned in solid performances. I’ve got to give Harris credit here; I still think Grier is going to win the job in the end, but Harris dug himself a huge hole with some really bad performances and he’s been consistently good of late. Both QB’s make their share of mistakes, and Grier has cooled off a bit since his hot start to fall camp, but I feel a lot more confident in the Gators’ QB situation now than I did back in January.

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