All things considered, Florida had a very good practice today.
The first thing of note was that star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves made his return, and in full pads at that. He was held out of the team speedball drill, but participated in some non contact drills. He remains officially “questionable” for Saturday’s game against Kentucky.
But Florida’s secondary will be in better shape than it was last week against ECU regardless of whether Hargreaves plays or not because of the debut of safety Keanu Neal. Neal has yet to play this year because of a hamstring problem, and he’s more than glad to be back. Or, more specifically, he’s got “so much anger and energy built up inside me. I’m ready to go,” when speaking to InsideTheGators’ Landon Watnick. Neal and Martez Ivey (who’s returning from a leg injury) are both expected to play against the Wildcats. Alex Anzalone, who has an injury to his right shoulder that Florida will continue to monitor throughout the week, was at practice but not dressed.
Following his throat slashing gesture after a touchdown against ECU, Kelvin Taylor was subsequently dropped to third on the depth chart. That was evident today when freshman Jordan Cronkrite received the first team reps at running back, and looked good. Cronkrite is listed as a possible starter at running back along with Jordan Scarlett; which of them actually gets the start probably won’t matter, as the other one will definitely see a lot of carries in a game the Gators will need to be successful on the ground in order to win.
Another good bit of news to report: the amount of dropped passes went down significantly. Drops have plagued the Gators for years now, the most recent example of which was Alvin Bailey deflecting a Will Grier pass right into the arms of an ECU defender on Saturday. But the receivers looked a lot better today:
Much better start to #Gators practice on Tuesday. Only 3 drops in routes on air drill on about 80 reps, compared to 14 yesterday.
— Thomas Goldkamp (@ThomasGoldkamp) September 15, 2015
The star of practice, though, had to be freshman defensive end Cece Jefferson:
CeCe Jefferson was abusing the #Gators OL during the short fastball portion of practice today.
— Nick de la Torre (@delatorre) September 15, 2015
The only thing that really concerned me was that Treon Harris was taking first team reps at QB. Will Grier played the majority of the game against East Carolina, so putting Treon back in with the first team at practice today gives me the impression that Jim McElwain really is planning on stretching out this QB battle even longer. At this point, the problem isn’t even that Grier is the better QB (which he is) but rather the fact that we’re still seeing a rotating QB system. Quite simply, it just can’t happen much longer if the Gators want to really compete for the things they should be competing for, like a trip to Atlanta and a New Year’s Six Bowl, neither of which are possibilities with platooning quarterbacks.
I’d actually rather McElwain just pick Harris and bench Grier for good- even though Grier is the superior quarterback- than allow this battle to continue on for much longer. At least then, the offense could develop some continuity with a consistent leader.