The team went in full pads for a light scrimmage on Friday, so I wasn't expecting too much in the way of development or occurrence on Saturday...and boy, was I wrong. Despite the presence of only shoulders and shorts, it was a practice run with surprising intensity, all under a sparkling California sun.
Well, that's my intro, so let's go ahead and get to it. There's one more open practice next week, before the spring experience.
There may be a mistake or two on these, and I have pointed out where my information may be wrong, where possible.
- First team offense ran with Brian Farley at right tackle. No other changes to report, except that Daniel Lasco saw some snaps as well.
- First team defense that appeared: Vachel Samuels, Griffin Piatt, Damariay Drew, Cameron Walker, Jalen Jefferson, Maximo Espitia, Marcus Manley, Harrison Wilfley, Brennan Scarlett, and Kyle Kragen. I have Michael Barton written down as the 11th player, but believe that Ray Davison also saw some time on/with this unit.
- Second team defense that appeared: Cedric Dozier, Michael Lowe, Dwight Garner, Caleb Coleman, Edward Tandy, Drew Bryant, Jonathan Johnson, Trevor Davis, Tony Mekari, and Antoine Davis. The 11th player in this unit, I have also written down as Michael Barton, for some reason. Take that as you will. Puka Lopa appeared with this group.
- First seven-on-seven lineup that appeared: Griffin Piatt, Vachel Samuels, Maximo Espitia, Cameron Walker, Ray Davison, Damariay Drew, Jalen Jefferson.
- Second seven-on-seven lineup that appeared: Dwight Garner, Michael Lowe, Cedric Dozier, Drew Bryant, Michael Barton, Darius Allensworth, Edward Tandy.
- Second team offensive line: Aaron Cochran, Vinnie Johnson, J.D. Hinnant, Donovan Frazer, and Christian Okafor.
- Kyle Boehm spent most of the time taking backup quarterback snaps, while Austin Hinder was scarcely seen at all. With how Hinder has played in the open practices this spring, it seems curious that Boehm has gotten more and more snaps...could the former Archbishop Mitty product be pushing up the depth chart? Tony Franklin's comments after practice certainly implied so. I've posted those below.
- More on Boehm: he did solidly in his work and didn't make many errors of note, if any at all. The team used him considerably more often as a run threat than they have with Hinder all spring -- with particular looks they hadn't showed with Hinder under center, I might add. Just something to keep your eye on.
- Khalfani Muhammad was reportedly at practice, but did not participate, with a track meet later in the day. Rehabbing from a hamstring pull, Bryce Treggs took some snaps, although none during the 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 sections. Coach Dykes said he would likely be full go toward the end of next week.
- Both Cameron Walker and Darius Allensworth appeared in slot looks.
- Highlight of the day: Kyle Boehm taking it on a keeper and streaking 50 yards to the end zone. On this play, Michael Barton took Harper, who was running out wide...but nobody covered Boehm, and he was able to outrun the secondary to the end zone, stiff-arming Cedric Dozier the last couple of yards. Honorable mention to a lofted lob by Goff out to Chris Harper on the right sideline, with a helpless Darius Allensworth unable to make a play on it.
- I mentioned that the practice was not in full pads, but there was definitely some tackling done. Whether that was encouraged or not, I don't know. Normally, guys are supposed to thud -- to make contact, but not actually take guys to the ground -- in these situations, yet more than a handful of plays ended with an actual tackle, causing a couple of flareups. Over the course of practice, this led to some tension, as several guys got chippy with each other, and in the case of Daniel Lasco and Dwight Garner, there was an actual skirmish. With this being the first fight of any open practice, I hardly think it's anything to be alarmed about. Simply noteworthy, is all.
- Sonny was very happy with the intensity, though, as you can see from the comments.
- [Some of you may remember that Chris McCain triggered a big enough brawl to actually stop practice last year. These were broken up very quickly, by comparison.]
- None of the defensive backs had a particularly great day, but I liked what I saw from Vachel Samuels, recovering after being beat times, and clinging tightly to an out-and-up during one rep of WR/DB drills. Most of his position mates struggled to keep up in their respective matchups there, so he caught my eye for that.
- Maximo Espitia pulled down an interception of Goff early in 7-on-7s, the only mistake of the day for him.
- Other than that one interception, Goff had some moments, and showed patience in checking down and going through his reads. Two plays of this in particular: in 7-on-7s, Goff scanned all the way across, before finding Austin Harper in the left flat, allowing the tiny back to scamper up the sideline for a long gain. A similar sequence happened in the full 11-on-11s, where he looked short for a screen -- it was covered -- and then deeper for Bryce McGovern, although the pass was ultimately dropped.
- Snaps continue to be an issue, as does the ballhandling. Goff wasn't wearing gloves today, though. Wonder if that played a part. Kyle Kragen did get to scoop up a fumble on one of these plays.
- Ray Davison, working out in space, also showed some noticeable quickness on his handful of tackles. The sample size has been small, though.
- Referees were in attendance today, calling a handful of pass interference penalties. Like I said, not a particularly great day for any of them.
- Jalen Jefferson said last year that he doesn't bother with fighting, since that kind of thing is just a waste of energy. He wasn't lying. I saw him straight up turn around and walk away from a skirmish that was developing behind him.
- The weather was bloody gorgeous right as the recruits started to trickle in. At least one guy received an offer:
- Kicking notes: Anderson good from 32, right hash. Beito good from 33. McIerney good from 42, left hash. Langford from 33, no good. McIerney from 42, good. Beito good from 43. Langford from 43, no good. Apparently Beito is the one with the inside track to win the job, which wouldn't have been my original guess. Congratulations, Noah! You only have a long standard of automatic Italian kickers to live up to :)
- The defense did not one, not two, but three sets of punishment up-downs -- without asking for sure, I am speculating that this is due to the encouraging play of the offensive line, which won a large amount of the one-on-ones I watched.
- Some helmet stripes have been premiered, specifically on the defensive line unit. Special touch from Fred Tate.
- A clean version of Tupac's "Hit Em Up" was played on Saturday. Complete abomination of one of the greatest diss tracks ever.
- Also unrelated note -- I did end up signing with UCLA (over Cal and Harvard...and technically Stanford) at the end of #NamWatch2014. Surprise! Been a silent there since January. Here's a five minute video explaining why I selected them, in case you're curious. I am adding this part here not because you care where I go to graduate school, but to inform you that I will still be writing here in the fall. With their September start, I should actually be able to continue covering fall camp this year, and I'll be traveling back home for every game, I think, so nothing will change on my end. You will continue to receive the same -- hopefully better -- work you're used to getting from me. Go Bears. Always.