August 19, 2009

Florida Gators Football - fall practice developments and tidbits

The Florida Gators football team has been working hard over the past two weeks in fall practice, and some players are starting to stand out and win starting spots and playing time.

I'm sorry for the lack of updates over the past week or so, as I was doing a lot of traveling back and forth between my home in New Orleans and in Gainesville. I'm settled back into Gainesville and should be able to keep the blog full of juicy information leading up to the football season.

Here are some of the latest developments from practice and what we can expect to see from a starting lineup standpoint.

First, starting on the offensive side of the ball, Marcus Gilbert was named the starting right tackle a few days ago by head coach Urban Meyer as we reported on Twitter.

That essentially leaves one starting spot up for grabs on the offensive line, as Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Pouncey and Carl Johnson have already won starting spots.

In all likelihood, Matt Patchan will win that starting spot at left tackle, making the starting lineup from left to right look like this: Matt Patchan, Carl Johnson, Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert.

Maurkice Pouncey has yet to practice this fall, but will reportedly join the team in practice for the week leading up to the season opener against Charleston Southern. The coaches don't seem too concerned, and have stated repeatedly that keeping him out is merely precautionary as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.

At wide receiver, two players have really started to step up for the Gators. Neither are big surprises, but they seem to be making the move that we didn't really see in the spring.

The first is senior Riley Cooper, who elected to return for his senior season despite signing a professional baseball contract with the Texas Rangers.

Cooper is easily the best downfield blocker and has routinely manhandled some of the bigger safeties in the Circle of Life drills, including putting Dee Finley on his back a couple days ago.

The other wide receiver really stepping up is speedster Deonte Thompson. Thompson has been far and away the best receiver in practice and has routinely smoked some of the defensive backs on deep balls.

He appears to be headed to the breakout season that many of us, myself included, expected him to have a year ago. Thompson's game-breaking speed should make him a crucial element of the offense this season.

Speaking of game-breaking speed, freshman wide receiver Andre Debose has performed nicely under the heavy expectations and is really coming along.

Senior David Nelson has really taken him under his wing and Debose is starting to show signs of picking up the playbook and taking the game a bit faster. That should help him to get on the field a good bit this season.

Defensively, A.J. Jones has been named a starter at linebacker while Brandon Hicks is recovering from an injury. The injury isn't thought to be very serious and he could be back in time for the opener.

Other injuries plaguing the Gators are back issues for both wide receiver Carl Moore and cornerback Jeremy Brown. No one knows the severity of the back problems yet.

Major Wright has sat out a handful of practices with a concussion, and is getting pushed hard for playing time by both Dorian Munroe and Will Hill. Despite Wright's big-hitting ability, he still isn't as natural in pass coverage as Hill.

It wouldn't shock me at all to see the two virtually split snaps through the first half of the year and end up with Hill as the starter at some point in the season. The Gators have an overabundance of top talent at safety right now.


  • Freshmen Mike Gillislee, Jonotthan Harrison and Jordan Reed have lost their helmet stripes.

  • Reed lost his stripe when he beat DE Kedric Johnson in the Circle of Life drill. He's definitely showing some Tebow-esque strength as a freshman.

  • We'll be posting live Twitter updates from the games with analysis of what is going well and what isn't for the Gators, as the SEC released their more blogger friendly version of their ticket policy.

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