ANAHEIM, Calif. - The tempo is certainly being set by the Florida all-star team defense as this year's Air 7 CaliFlorida Bowl practices have seen a lot from stars like defensive lineman Bryant Miller. The three-star prospect and his defensive teammates are definitely the most vocal during the practices for Florida thus far and are setting the tone early for Saturday's game.
The offense, led by quarterbacks Tim Tebow and Billy Lowe have been learning a new scheme and leading well, the defense has been waiting to pounce on several plays since the first practice on Monday. Miller, along with defensive lineman Charles Deas, Reggie Odom, Leslie Stirrups, and the very emotional Doug Thacker have not only been dominating physically up front, but mentally as well.
At linebacker, A.J. Jones continues to shine during the third day of practice. Along side him in the middle is Colin McCarthy, who has looked like a very well-schooled defender out there reading plays well and performing smart on the gap reads.
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"That's what we do," three-star defensive lineman John Paul said during practice. "We've got to get everybody hyped up because it brings everything up a notch. When I first got out here, it was kind of quiet and that changed with both the coaches and the players."
Credit is certainly still due to the offense. Aside from a strong set of personnel to go up against in the front seven, Tebow and company have had to battle against a strong secondary on the Florida team that includes Ryan Hill, Jacques Rickerson, and the very impressive Marcus Udell who has been making plays at both safety and in the one-on-one corner drills.
On the other side of things, the up-tempo attitude translated over to the defense in the late moments of Tuesday's practice. Three-star wide receiver/cornerback Patrick Robinson is known for his blazing speed and good hands, but he opened things up even more during a screen play.
Robinson was backing off to make a block and laid a heavy hit to one defender that got everybody at practice looking on with wide eyes. It appears that 5-foot-11, 169-pound top Sunshine State performer brings more to the table than just finesse.
Sims looks the part at running back
Florida State is one school that has placed their offer in the hat for Tallahassee four-star Marcus Sims but it appears other schools like Alabama, Clemson, Miami, and USC like his skills at running back.
So far through the first three days of the CaliFlorida Bowl practices, Sims has backed up any talk about his talent for having the ball in his hands. Even with the offensive line learning a new system and moving into different spots, the Rivals100 member has looked extremely comfortable taking the handoffs.
While fellow teammate and highly touted runner C.J. Spiller was nursing a sore ankle, Sims took the lead and made some great plays during team drills and position periods. In previous updates, the 6-foot, 211-pound player admits he does like the running back position a little better than defense and it's easy to see why.
Sims has looked the most impressive running between the tackles, getting separation from the defense, and breaking it outside. If this continues, Spiller and Sims could be one tough duo to stop come Saturday.
Defensive end the ticket for Davis?
Utilizing all the speed they can, the four-star outside linebacker Chasman Davis has been spending his time at defensive end for his Florida team. Coaches have said that his speed is tough to stop which was evident during Tuesday's practice when Davis had to pull up several times to keep from blindsiding the quarterback.
The talented Davis knows that his future may lie at as a linebacker, but since he played a lot of defensive end in the past, it just feels like home.
"It's going good, I like it," Davis said about playing defensive end. "That's what I played mostly in high school so it's going alright for me out there. I'm having a lot of fun putting my hand down and coming off the outside."
Davis also plays well in space and could possibly present some speed problems for opposing offensive lineman in Saturday's game.
-- The weather in Anaheim has been somewhat cool and wet. However, not all of the players from Florida had much of a problem with it. Rivals100 offensive tackle Daron Rose said he likes the cold weather much better than warm weather.
"I hate to be hot," Rose said. "I love it out here right now. I wish it would be like this for the whole week."
Rose also said that was one reason he enjoyed his official trip to cooler temperatures when he saw Michigan on Dec. 2. The Wolverines along with Florida and Florida State make up his top three schools.
-- Rivals100 running back Spiller said that the injury to his ankle is getting better by the day. He mentioned at practice that he was about "85 percent" and that "it feels better the more I work around on it."
Jarred Fayson also was more involved in practice today and he seems to be getting back to his usual self after being limited in action.
-- Both Florida and California will continue practice tomorrow. The Air 7 CaliFlorida Bowl will be Saturday, Dec. 31 at 3:00 PM.