...from practice report duty, anyway. This is the last open one before Northwestern, again somewhat limited in depth.
Let's get into it.
- Once again, spring breakout Unc Davison ran with the ones, as Michael Barton slid inside to the MIKE. Devante Downs, at least for now, seems to have been downgraded to the second team MIKE.
- Jake Kearney and Edward Tandy were also among the guys seeing time in the second rotation. As far as I can remember, it was the former's most extensive action to date.
- There were a couple of looks where Puka Lopa and Marcus Manley were on the first team line. I don't think there's much to read into Lopa's inclusion, since he was in Scarlett's spot, and it was likely just them playing around with reps.
- The Marcus Manley thing was more interesting though, since Austin Clark's job still isn't locked down, per Coach Dykes. Like with Harrison Wilfley, it would be a lot more preferable to have eventually someone of Manley's mass -- he's listed at 290 -- in the middle next to Jalil rather than Clark's smaller 270 pound frame.
- Lopa is looking like Todd Barr's primary backup at weakside DE, and I'd say the same about Ray Hudson and Stephen Anderson. Darius Powe, the other guy who's in contention to be Anderson's backup, has some flexibility in the sense that he'll move around at most of the receiver spots, and actually did, on Monday.
- You'll hear a bit more in Coach Burns' interview video, but it looks like Michael Lowe is going to be the starter at strong safety.
- Kenny Lawler was a full participant on Tuesday.
- Once again, the first and second string defenses dominated the scout offense, drawing all kinds of interceptions: Darius Allensworth on consecutive plays (one on a tip), Caleb Coleman on the sideline, Mike Barton on a perfectly read stick/curl route, and one more by Cedric Dozier.
- Before anyone starts claiming we'll hold the Wildcats to negative yardage, all Remember the Titans style, I want to make clear, of course, that this is practice -- they are running at half to three-quarters speed, without contact. That being said, they certainly look comfortable working against Northwestern's offense/concepts. We'll see if that's still the case next Saturday.
- Jalen Jefferson made the play of the day by snaring a clean pick-six of Jared Goff during a shortened 11-on-11 segment. (Most of the work has been done in scout this week). The Bear Raid Commander was facing some heavy pressure before he threw, but Jefferson read the play perfectly. On the offensive end, Khalfani Muhammad chipped in a good 25 yard run.
- This is the first time we've seen the team work on fumbling -- the defense spent the last segment working on sliding into loose footballs, and then punching them out.
Steamrollerrunning back Vic Enwere still has some work to do in the receiving game -- his hands aren't the most reliable yet -- but on Tuesday, he showed again why he's an offensive weapon anyway, by shaking off a tackle from Trevor Kelly to still fall forward for the first down.
- More cool offensive wrinkles. No hints. Just know, they're coming. IT'S BEAR RAID 2.0: MORE RAIDING
- I'm not saying each of these adaptations will be world-breaking, but like I said, I just get excited seeing new stuff because the X's and O's of football fascinate me.
- There were cookies after practice. No, I didn't try to take one.
- Shout out to CGB user Jojosungy for saying hi and wishing me a happy retirement, hahaha.
Cookies! pic.twitter.com/KBYDQeU6mL— Nam Le (@AGuyNamedNam) August 20, 2014
Just some quick thoughts based on spring/last season til now, group by group.
- Quarterback: Absolutely no worries here. Jared Goff is going to do work.
- Running back: Dreadful in the spring because neither Daniel Lasco nor Khalfani Muhammad practiced much, but re-energized by the additions of the two freshmen behind them, too. A lot of different guys who complement each other quite well, really.
- Wide receiver: see quarterback.
- Offensive line: Steven Moore, Alejandro Crosthwaite and Chris Borrayo have been locks at their positions for the last year, with really only Jordan Rigsbee -- already a returning veteran, mind you -- having a position change in moving from guard to tackle. Chris Adcock took over center this fall, a position he has played for quite some time. So, what's all of the above mean? Well, one, that there's a lot more stability among these five, all of whom return a year older, a year stronger, and a year more experienced in the Tony Franklin System. I also don't forsee any situation like last year's re-shuffle -- in which Borrayo, the now departed Christian Okafor, and Moore all took their first action -- which happened right before Washington. This group is still probably still a year off from being the roadgrader unit we hope them to be, though. Once 2015 comes, Moore, Borrayo and Rigsbee will be the elder statesmen up front, all battle-tested.
- Defensive line: This unit remains the biggest question mark for me, because I'm uncomfortable with the almost alarming lack of impact pass-rushers and defensive tackles...basically, any non-Brennan Scarlett members. Moose has been pretty good in camp so far, but he's still gotta hold up over the entire season, and we still don't have a great partner for either of those two aforementioned names. They've gotten a lot bigger here as a whole, though, which is a great sign, as neither starting defensive end is 240-250 pounds anymore. After that? We'll see. We may have to result to some creative pressure packages to really make up for things.
- Linebackers: No complaints about Michael Barton and Jalen Jefferson, who should be fine. We knew that. The worry is with who will be alongside that duo, and maybe even their relative size as a group. Is that going to be Hardy Nickerson? Ray Davison? Who knows? I'd label these guys as fine, but not with a high ceiling.
- Defensive backs: Last year's corner depth was awful behind the starters, an unfortunate reality that got more and more apparent as the season went on. Now, though, the corners are much, much deeper -- Cam Walker has slid back from safety, Darius Allensworth came off a redshirt to seize what should be a starting job, and Cedric Dozier is massively improved himself. Behind them are some young guys who have looked promising -- Trey Cheek and AJ Greathouse -- plus the possibility of JUCO transfer Darius White, who we haven't even seen yet. The safeties, though, I think still have a lot to prove this fall -- Stefan McClure has looked pretty comfortable playing the free, but the other guys besides him in the two deep (Mike Lowe, Avery Sebastian, Griffin Piatt) have yet to make me feel totally confident in their play. Overall, I don't know how good the secondary will be as a whole, but I'm almost certain they won't be as bad as last year.
Bye. Kind of.
Unfortunately, the time has come for me to pass these practice recap duties onto someone else, or perhaps even a combination of someone elses, as I will no longer be living in the area starting next month. I don't have a clue who that will be yet, but I just wanted to give you a heads up so that next spring, when your timelines aren't filled with 2105129234 tweets about every minute detail of every drill and observations about guys who might not play for two years and your mornings don't begin with a five page essay on every happening, that you don't suddenly have a panic attack from lack of Nam.
Now, I'll still be here at CGB, doing all the same things: my Monday thought column (which I truly look forward to writing each weekend and will have some new revamped goodies/bits/sections soon), recruit tapes, plus whatever else strikes my fancy. Sorry if you had hoped that means I'm going away permanently!
I just won't physically be able to attend practice anymore, unless someone invents a way for me to traverse 400 miles in the blink of an eye...
Anyway, it's been fun. Stay Golden, y'all.
(And yes, I will too, even though I'm going to school in Westwood.)