Tuesday Practice: Brittain off the squad

With the late afternoon heat beating down, head coach John Mackovic gave the Wildcats a break from wind sprints. But that was one of the only breaks the Wildcats had all day. The team had a very productive practice, but learned that they would be without four linemen, including Brad Brittain who is no longer a Wildcat. <B>UPDATED!</B>

Defensive lineman Brad Brittain is no longer on the team. It was originally reported that he had quit the squad, but now sources indicate he was dismissed due to violation of team rules. This is a huge blow to the Wildcats who lost Vince Feula to academics and are still awaiting the grades for David Sharp.

The Cats got the prognosis on three injured players and it is not good. The best news is that Tanner Bell will only be out a month. An MRI came back and his knee injury is not as severe as many thought. He will begin rehab soon, but will still miss up to a month.

The prognosis is not so good for John Parada or Cedric Cofer. Parada, an offensive lineman who redshirtted last season, has apparently re-injured the knee that kept him out most of last year.

"It's very similar to what happened last year, and of course he sat out the rest of the year last year," John Mackovic said. "We don't know what we'll do with that."

Mackovic did say that he would be out for "some time", but did not know much more.

Cedric Cofer's stress fracture has not completely healed so doctors will stabilize it this week and he'll begin rehabbing it soon. He'll be out the entire fall.

The Cats had a good long practice and got a lot accomplished. They did a lot of situational work, including a lot of work in the scoring zone. Mackovic was quite pleased.

"We had a good workout," the Wildcats head man said. "A couple of good things I saw today was our pass defense down in the scoring zone and our quarterbacks were flushed from the pocket and started to scramble, but picked up receivers downfield and made throws. That is something we've emphasized."

Early on in practice the quarterbacks and running backs did a lot of work on handoffs and exchanges as well as screens. The coaches put a lot of emphasis on footwork and timing.

The lines continued to battle and the offensive line worked a lot on switching off men and getting upfield to block linebackers. At the same time the defense worked on shedding blocks and swarming to the ball.

The Cats then broke up into offense and defense. The first team offense worked a lot on picking up blitzes and quick passes in those situations.

The Cats may be thin at defensive line, but the coaches are finding a way around it. On passing downs the Cats plan on lining up an outside linebacker (most of whom are converted ends) on the edge. Tonight it was freshman Lionel Dotson that lined up there, and several other linebackers have taken their shot there.

"What we do with some of our linebackers, and (Dotson) is a good candidate, is use them for pass rushing," Mackovic said. "We get them down in a three point stance and let them go from there."

As has become the norm, the Wildcat quarterbacks remain hot in the 7-on-7 drills. Ryan O'Hara was 4-7 for 42 yards, including a 25 yards strike to Syndric Steptoe. Nic Costa was 3-5 for just 11 yards and Kris Heavner was 2-2 for five yards. Only Richard Kovalcheck struggled, going 0-3, but having a short pass dropped.

The 11-on-11 drills had an interesting twist tonight. The coaches decided to have the teams operate in the "scoring zone", inside the 35-yard line, and try to have the offense score. For the most part it was the defense that had the upper hand. Since they used various, specific situations play by play and not game-like, scrimmage situations, it was tough to judge who was the winner, but the offense scored just twice. On each play the coaches would call out the down and distance and they'd mix things up by placing to ball at various yard lines and moving it from hash to hash.

Even though there was not supposed to be any tackling, the defense was aggressive and brought down more than a few ball carriers. Things got even more heated when fullback Sean Jones lowered his shoulder and gave Michael Jolivette a nice pop as the corner back brought him down.

Costa was responsible for both of the offense's scores and got the bulk of the pass attempts. His first throw was a 25-yard touchdown to Biren Ealy. As Ealy fell into the endzone the ball popped loose. The defense claimed it was a fumble but it was ruled to have come loose after Ealy was down in the endzone. Costa and the offense struck again, hitting Pedro Limon on a swing pass at the three-yard line and the 245-pounder bowled his way into the endzone.

The other three quarterbacks had less luck, as well as less pass attempts. O'Hara was just 1-3 for four yards and neither Kovalcheck or Heavner completed a pass, each going 0-1. Heavner did connect with Ealy, but his wobbly pass caused the receiver to come down out of bounds in the corner of the endzone.


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