This was the first practice of the day, before the Bears journeyed over to Concord to subject themselves to whichever level of hell Texas exists in. It was plenty hot this morning in Berkeley, and the practice felt a little like a warm-up for what was to come later. Plenty of second and third string players took reps today, which is good for development in general.
There were two shakeups on the offensive line today. Dominic Granado ran with the first team at the center position, while Jordan Rigsbee took over the right guard slot for the day. Also, Steven Moore and Brian Farley flipped at the tackle spots. I'd assume that Sonny is trying out all the different line combinations while he still can.
On another note, freshman defensive lineman Malik McMorris has officially moved to the fullback position. Coach Tommerdahl worked with him almost exclusively during individual drills. I like the idea of having a 300 lb wrecking ball as a fullback, and he has some big hands for pass-catching. When he got the opportunity during team, he dropped a passand there was an audible sigh from most people in attendance. He was making some nice catches in warmups, and with more reps he'll become a good piece coming out of the backfield.
On to the actual notebook part:
- Daniel Lasco is up and running. Seems to be at full strength running routes and taking handoffs. He didn't take many reps during the team session though, so I'd assume he's being cautious about whatever has limited him the past few days. Shane Vereen did something similar in 2010 when he was injured and he had a monster season, so there isn't reason to worry about that.
- One standout in offensive line drills was Vinnie Johnson. He destroyed Noah Westerfield during a run blocking drill. Westerfield was not happy when Johnson tried to help him up. Johnson has put on some major size since coming in to the program in 2013, and he's starting to use it. I could see him starting next year, or this year depending on how Farley plays.
- Your first team defense today was Jonathan Johnson, Marcus Manley, James Looney, Kyle Kragen, Nathan Broussard, Jalen Jefferson, Cameron Walker, Darius White, Darius Allensworth, Khari Vanderbilt, and Luke Rubenzer. Quite a few new faces getting time on the first team. Mustafa Jalil was taking it easy today, maybe being preserved for the second practice. It was good to see Broussard out there, even with a red jersey. Hopefully he's healed up and ready to bust some heads by the time Grambling comes to town
- One on one's were uneventful. Goff through a few TDs in the red zone to the usual suspects (Lawler, Anderson, and Treggs). Treggs had the most impressive one, making a difficult catch in the corner of the endzone on a corner route.
- On the defensive end, Darius White was a hair shy of having two interceptions for the period. He got his hands on two passes, but couldn't complete the catch. Billy McCrary also had a couple of difficult deflections, batting it away from Jack Austin and Trevor Davis on separate occasions.
- Maurice Harris continues to impress me, making the difficult catches look easy. He made an excellent catch on the far sideline while being interfered with by Cedric Dozier. Harris would be a first team receiver anywhere else in the conference, but he will rotate in quite a bit here.
- There was some punting and kickoffs today. Leininger was good as usual, but Harry Adolphus was impressive. His punts are rugby style, but they came off his leg like bullets. Deep line drives with a spiral that looked plenty impressive. He also got the deepest on kickoffs, which is nice to have.
- As far as the actual kicking game goes, Matt Anderson was better today. He was on with all his field goals, while Noah Beito hit one off the upright from about PAT distance on the right hash. The kicking game is still in flux, but hopefully we'll score enough touchdowns to make that unnecessary.
Some Highlights from the Team Session
- Darius Powe got pulled by the undershirt, muscles his way five extra yards to a 1st down
- Big stop by Devante Downs on Lonny Powell, loud hit that stopped Powell at the line of scrimmage
- Ross Bowers forced into some bad passes by good blitzes in team. He has some happy feet as of now and doesn't quite have his quick passing game down. That will come with time. He didn't throw a pick though
- Hamilton Anoa'i had a nice TFL on Powell later in the session. One of the Rock's cousins, Anoa'i got a bit more run today, and was around the ball quite a bit.
- The defense dominated 7 on 7, not allowing a single TD over the period. Some of this can be attributed to Goff staying out during the session, but the defense had some excellent coverage. Darius White in particular was hyped up with the results of that session.
- In the final team period, Goff threw an out to Ray Hudson, and Kenny Lawler made a big block that took out two DBs. Hudson got a 60+ yard gain out of the deal. Lawler is underrated as a downfield blocker, but his frame is perfect for it.
- Goff to Powe for a TD from 5 yards out was easy money. Little corner route with a nice lofted touch pass. That's what the trash can drills are for.
- Jeff Coprich had a TD near the end, barely breaking a tackle to make it into the endzone from three yards out. He did get stopped for a TFL near the end, with Derron Brown getting the first hit on him.
- That was the end of practice. It was only an hour and a half, with a bit of energy being conserved for the later session
We'll see where they go from here with the new offensive line configuration. Rigsbee is probably better as a guard than center, and I didn't see any bad snaps from Granado. We'll see more as practice continues. Stay tuned and Go Bears!