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The first two weeks of spring practice are in the books for the Florida football program.
And there’s a lot to go over, and Gators Breakdown host David Waters is cranking out episode after episode to keep you up to date on all of the happenings.
❓ Spring practice Q&A
Florida is halfway through Billy Napier’s first spring football camp, and we’re getting a better idea of where the team stands early in the process.
David Waters is joined by Will Miles in this Gators Breakdown episode to answer Gators Breakdown Plus members’ questions on spring ball.
And we should have an even better understanding of the team after the first spring scrimmage tonight.
💬 Top 4 quotes from 1st week
David has also been looking at the top four quotes from each week.
Here’s what some of the Gators football coaches had to say throughout the first week of spring practice:
4. Running backs coach Jabbar Juluke on playing multiple RBs
“We want to play multiple guys, right? We want to play multiple guys and make sure that we have competition every day. No one’s going to be given anything. You got to go out here and work for it on a daily basis. And we want to make sure that you’re playing at a high level. OK. We talked about having great habits and now going out there and competing. But the best thing that we’re going to do as a running back unit is we’re going to cheer for one another. We’re going to support each other. We want to be out there making sure that we’re doing things, even though we’re having friendly competition, we still want to be supportive of each other while we’re out there. So we want to put the guys out there that deserve to play and have the ability to play. And we want to make sure that we are having a great time in doing so. We’re going to play extremely hard.”
3. Offensive line coach Rob Sale on progression of the o-line
“Fundamentals, I think they’re not far off. I mean, o-line play, you’re never perfected, man. You’re always fighting to get your hands inside. You’re always trying to get in that position. And you’re saying those things. I think the verbiage is a little bit different, so with knowledge and knowing what to do, where your eyes are supposed to be versus edge pressure, those things, they can have anticipation when we communicate from the quarterback to the offensive line if we get an edge pressure and things like that where they’ll play a little bit faster. Knowledge is power. So when you know what to do, you can go play fast. You know, the first couple days, kind of figuring out, but it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t far off, so, proud of their progression so far.”
In this episode of Gators Breakdown, David shares more of what Sale had to say about what he is seeing early from the offensive line group as Juluke tries to balance a talented running back room.
2. Defensive coordinator Patrick Toney on defensive turnaround
“I think our players are extremely eager. I think they’re very football intelligent. And I think they want to do things the right way. But, you know, the first thing that we got to do is play fundamentally sound defense. Kind of like what I talked about earlier. We got to learn how to strike blockers. We got to learn how to shed. We got to learn how to leverage the football in pursuit and get the ball carrier on the ground. You know what I mean? Defense is not as much about what you do, it’s about how you do it. You know, I think if you look at the blueprint of SEC defense right now, it’s a lot of guys that do very similar things. It’s about the level of detail and precision and execution they’re doing it with, so, to me, the No. 1 priority is how we’re playing the game, you know, I mean those fundamental techniques that we got to get a lot better at and then, obviously, that will drive the scheme.”
1. Napier on experience on the roster
“I think the big thing for our team, if you evaluate our roster relative to just experience in general, right, if you look at the participation charts from the past, who’s played a lot in games, you know, we’ve got probably the first group that has some significant experience, but after that, there’s a lot of unknowns, right? There’s a lot of competition. So, for me, that’s what I see, right? I see a handful of players that have played and they know how to compete. They understand what’s required to be ready to play in a big game and then we’ve got a lot of players that are really green, that we’ve got to do a good job in developing kind of that second and third group.”
🎤 Top 4 quotes from 2nd week
And here’s what Napier and other coaches said during the second week of spring practice:
4. Co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Sean Spencer praising defensive lineman Gervon Dexter
“He works so hard, you know. He wants to be great. He’s in my office all the time. Like one time I asked him, ‘Can I sit in my chair?’ Because he was in there watching film, right? He wants to be great. He knows that I’ve coached guys like Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence, and I’ve shown him tape of those guys and he wants to be great like that, and I think he’s got a chance to be great. He has tremendous work ethic, and his ceiling is not reached yet, right? So that’s the great thing about him, and really no kid’s ceiling should really be reached, but his ceiling is not reached. This guy has unbelievable protection. He can move in short area. He can power the pocket if you need him to. He can take on double teams. I don’t know what he can’t do. That’s not that he’s doing all the things yet, but I don’t know what he can’t do. So I’m excited about this guy. They all should look like that.”
Spencer must fix issues that the Florida defense had last season like penalties, missed assignments and effort. In this Gators Breakdown episode, David shares Spencer’s and Dexter’s thoughts on the issues and how they’re attacking the problems this spring.
3. Cornerbacks coach Corey Raymond on development of the CBs
“Just getting those guys to understand and learn how to play the position more than anything. It’s not about just going out there and play. It’s about the position, learning the position, learning the ins and outs of the position and different types of coverages, different types of footwork, where my eyes go. So it’s just developing that part of the guys. Feel it’s going to take a little time to get used to me, who I am, because, I mean, I’m hard to get along with out there on the field because it’s demanding and because you play a position that’s an easy place a lineup, but there are a lot of little things you have to do to become really good at the position.”
Raymond is one of the best cornerback coaches in the game -- which is why Napier hired him to help Florida live up to the DBU moniker once again. David, in this episode of Gators Breakdown, shares Raymond’s thoughts on leaving LSU for Florida and what he is trying to instill in his cornerbacks.
2. Napier on quarterback progression
“It’s been good. It’s been good. I think we take a step forward each day. You know, I think obviously the install is starting to pile up. Today was the first day I felt like, OK, hey, you know, we got quite a bit in, a few more mental errors today than maybe we need. But, overall, I think those guys are doing really well. You know, they’re coming in extra. I see it sticking, a little bit of a whole part, whole approach. But it is sticking, and they’re retaining information and I see improvement, so pleased with that group.”
1. Napier on quarterback Jack Miller’s progress
“There’s a reason Jack’s here, first of all, I think we anticipated potential issues. I think Jack comes across as a guy who has been in competition before, right? He’s played in games before, right? He does come across like it’s not too big for him. He’s comfortable. He’s able to handle the good and the bad. You know, I think he can make a play and be the same guy, the next play, can make a mistake and be the same guy the next play. So there’s some steadiness there that I appreciate. Certainly, you can see that the ball comes out of his hand. He’s got arm talent and he’s accurate, and so far he’s picking it up pretty quick. So I think we made a good decision there. And we’re glad Jack’s on our team.”
David says it seems like Miller, the Ohio State transfer, and Anthony Richardson are separating themselves from the rest of the quarterbacks. In this Gators Breakdown episode, David goes in-depth on Napier’s thoughts on the quarterback situation now that Emory Jones is transferring, as well as shares more thoughts on Miller.
🐊 Returning to Gainesville
The latest Gators Breakdown episode focus on returns.
There’s the return to Gainesville of linebacker great Mike Peterson to coach the outside linebackers and serve as an alumni liaison, and the return of Brenton Cox Jr. as he looks to develop into an all-around defender.
Those two aspects of this Gators defense will go a long way in returning this defense to a standard Gators fans expect.
In the podcast episode, David shares thoughts from Peterson and Cox on the OLN/JACK position and the role they play in this new defense.
📣 New football staff announcement
Brooks Gillerlain was announced as a dietitian on the football nutrition staff.
Last season, she was a Gatorade sports nutrition fellow at Virginia Tech.
Before that, she was a sports nutrition intern at North Carolina from fall 2019 to spring 2021.
🏈 Gators Pro Day
The Florida football program’s Pro Day was held Monday.
It took place at the indoor practice facility.
For highlights from the day, check out this article on FloridaGators.com.
🏆 HBC to be honored
Steve Spurrier will receive the Distinguished Citizen Award this year from the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
The HBC will be the 50th honoree to accept the award, which will be presented on June 5 in Memphis, Tennessee.
The Liberty Bowl says the award has been presented to some of America’s most prominent citizens, honoring “a cross-section of Americans from a wide range of professions, including military commanders, governors, and congressmen, as well as leaders in business, medicine, education, entertainment and sports.”
👋 Golden introduced at news conference
New Florida men’s basketball coach Todd Golden made it clear at his introductory news conference that he welcomes challenges.
“I want those expectations,” said Golden, 36, who arrives in Gainesville after three seasons at San Francisco. “We’re going to do everything we can to get there.”
That passion is no doubt what Florida fans want to hear after the constant hot seat and emotional churn of the Mike White era, which ended March 13 when he made a stunning exit for rival Georgia.
White’s exit was no doubt tied to how he felt in Gainesville. The buzz around his departure was that it was too toxic of a place for him to continue, with sky-high expectations that weren’t realistic.
“Coach White leaving, it didn’t mean anything to me, to be honest, and I don’t know what he was going through or what led him to that, but it didn’t change the way I felt about this place at all,” Golden said.
“Honestly, at a place like this they should have high expectations. Like I mentioned, there’s everything you need here to be really, really good, and if they didn’t have those championship aspirations and expectations, if [Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin] didn’t want to do that, that would concern me.”
Golden said that he spoke with Billy Donovan, who led the Gators to consecutive national titles in 2006 and 2007 before leaving for the NBA, and that the conversation gave him “goosebumps the whole time.”
Now is the opportunity to get Florida back among the elite and it will start with mining the transfer portal and recruiting.
🏀 Men’s hoops staffers named
Golden has made a few hires since his introductory news conference.
Jonathan Safir has been named director of basketball strategy and analytics. He most recently served as an assistant coach on the San Francisco staff that led the Dons to a 24-10 season and the team’s first NCAA Tournament bid since 1998. In that role, Safir oversaw all analytics and strategy for the Dons and played an integral role in scouting, recruiting and player development
Korey McCray was hired as associate head coach. He is a veteran of the Southeastern Conference coaching ranks and has spent time at Mississippi State and LSU.
And Kevin Hovde was named an assistant coach of the Florida men’s basketball team. Hovde comes to Gainesville after most recently helping Richmond to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He has worked seven seasons alongside Golden, including two as associate head coach under Golden at San Francisco.
⚾ Florida baseball takes down FSU in Jax
After a two-year absence, the Florida and Florida State baseball game in Jacksonville returned to the area on Tuesday night.
The No. 14 Gators came out victorious, with an 18-3 win over the No. 5 Seminoles.
Florida delivered an 11-hit effort backed by errorless defense to improve to 18-7.
✉️ Send us your Gators thoughts & questions
David and I want to hear from you. Do you have any thoughts or questions about the Gators football program? Agree or disagree with something we’ve said? Let us know here, and we’ll share our responses to your questions.