Photo: Ventrell Miller and Jay Bateman; Credit: Zach Goodall
The Florida Gators returned to the indoor practice facility to avoid the rain showers Sunday on the fourth day of 2022 fall camp, preparing for Billy Napier’s first season as UF’s head coach.
You can find AllGators” observations from the media viewing practice section below.
As noted on Friday, we began focusing on individual position groups after covering the offense as a whole on day one and the defense as a whole on day two. After a fan vote, we graded the wide receivers on Day 3 and zeroed in on the quarterback group for the latest practice.
Focusing on defenders
During the media viewing portion of the fourth day, defenders were tasked with 45-degree shots against a blocker and running back (served by other LBs), a gap shot where defenders had to avoid two blockers (tackling dummies) by bending and /or slide and chute drills where pad level, balance, hitting and pass catching were tested all at once.
As expected, the first two quarterbacks to go through each practice were upperclassmen and projected starters Ventrell Miller and Amari Burney. Bernie had the cleaner day of the two in terms of successfully completing the drills as Miller was asked to repeat his reputation for shooting the ga by going the wrong way. Bernie successfully completed his first rep in almost every drill and showed great fluency during gap shooting and chute drill.
(Update: Hat on top of Zach Abolverdi (to On3 Sports for spotting Bernie re-doing a replay we didn’t see live after changing shooting positions.)
It was interesting to see a true freshman and summer grad Shemar James third straight during practice, behind current projected starters in Miller and Burney. As we noted on day two, players are being rotated between the first and second teams, and notes like this aren’t indicative of what the depth chart looks like, but they do offer the idea that a player is at least struggling to move up the rankings.
That being said, James is still learning his technique and how to set up the run game right now. He was asked to take a second move in several practices to correct mistakes made in the first run, although those mistakes appeared to be minor and technical, like his footwork and leverage, rather than mental errors.
He’s advanced in terms of athleticism and physicality for a point guard his age, and he’s also played two of the better gap-shooting reps of the bunch. This is consistent with the scouting report of James coming out of prep ball, known well as a dynamic blitzer from an off-ball position.
Derek Wingo, Jeremiah Williams and Diwun Black make up the rest of the scholarship quarterback room, and Wingo looked the best of the trio on those chains in particular. His ability to spin run blockers and shed downfield looks much improved from when we watched him do similar drills in spring camp.
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Wingo’s shot shedding blocks is almost as strong as Miller and Burney’s, which you can see below in clips from the day as the trio stood out in chute drills.
Williams and Black are one of, if not the, most athletic defenders on the team and their motor skills are evident in these drills. However, their physicality at the point of attack can continue to improve, and each has chased excessive reps in running drills, getting too far outside and freeing up a rushing lane for the running back to sneak through.
A former pass rusher in high school, Williams had his best reps of the session during the gap shooting drills, where his ability to bend served him well.
Below are the players who were seen wearing non-contact jerseys during the media viewing portion of practice. An asterisk indicates that the player worked on the sidelines instead of on the field. This list does not include linebackers, as they are required to wear non-contact jerseys at all times.
- QB Jaylen Kitna*
- THE Jonathan Odom
It was the first time Kitna didn’t take part in practice this fall, at least during the media viewing portion. He was seen stretching and riding an exercise bike during the open training window.
Left hook Richard Gurage was not at practice Sunday and has yet to participate in camp this fall due to an undisclosed injury. He was seen working on the sidelines in practice before Sunday’s practice in a no-contact jersey.
Kicker Trey Smack wore a standard jersey on Sunday, appearing to mark his first full participation practice after wearing a non-contact jersey through the first three days of camp. The same can be said for the defensive back Dakota Mitchellwho took off his no-contact jersey and was seen working in defensive back drills.
As Napier confirmed Friday, cornerback Jaden Hill is currently not participating in practice as he recovers from an undisclosed offseason injury.
Clip of the day
How about a clip of the day two parter?
Miller, Burney and Wingo put in the best reps in the chute drills toward the end of the viewing period, with each defender keeping a low center of gravity through the chute, hitting the bag with a hard punch and scoring the ball immediately afterward.
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