“Listen, we talkin’ ‘bout practice. Not a game, not a game, not a game, we talkin’ ‘bout practice”
-Allen Iverson, May 7, 2002.
Yes, when it concerns the 2013 Orange and Blue Debut, that’s exactly what we’re talkin’ ‘bout. That’s what happens when you only have six healthy offensive linemen, like Florida did on Saturday for its spring "game," which basically amounted to a modified practice.
Some bright spots on this day for the offense included Kelvin Taylor and Demarcus Robinson. Both looked impressive in their first performance in The Swamp.
Taylor showcased great natural skills as a runner and had a nice touchdown run off left tackle during a red zone drill. He ended the day with 11 carries for 59 yards, as well as the touchdown.
During the scrimmage periods. Robinson looked like a seasoned receiver while battling Florida’s corners, including a circus catch while being shoved to the ground in a 7-on-7 drill. And he did it all on a bum ankle. I was very impressed.
On defense, Neiron Ball and Dante Fowler Jr. both flew around and made great plays. At one point, the offense ran a sweep to the left with everyone’s favorite two-way player Loucheiz Purifoy, and Ball expertly strung the play out to the sideline, eventually stopping it for no gain.
With returning starters on the edge of the line and the secondary, Florida's defense looked as fast and as locked in on the perimeter as you’d expect, but questions still remain about its interior.
At kicker, though, the search for Caleb Sturgis’ replacement is yet to yield many results.
Austin Hardin looked better than his counterpart Brad Phillips, especially when they each tried 38-yard field goals from the right hash: Phillips doinked a line drive off the left uprights before Hardin drilled his attempt through them. Hardin had his moment of shame, however, when he conked a 30-yarder off the uprights on the last play of Florida's final "station," a one-minute drill for the offense that produced that field goal for Phillips (made easily) and Hardin. The jury is still more than out at kicker.
Besides that, it was just another practice, something to whet the appetite and hold fans over until the fall. Fans shouldn’t be let down by what they saw (or more importantly, what they didn’t see) in The Swamp today. We should all remember that there’s a long summer ahead of us, and 146 days until we’re back to talkin’ ‘bout games.