In-depth practice report

Another practice is in the books and the people on the Wildcat Football Insider premium message board were treated to another in-depth practice report.

After watching two full practices, some things are starting to become apparent about this 2005 version of the Wildcats. The first one is that both interior lines will be dramatically different, in my humble opinion. There is simply more speed and power on both sides of the ball, and the new additions just may be upgrades. Case and point Byron Smith. He looks like he will be a real pain in the butt for whoever has to block him. In one on one drills today, Smith displayed his quickness off of the ball, with a great first step again. He also has a very nice repertoire of moves, that he uses to get off of blocks. He plays very low to the ground, he has powerful legs, and a strong upper body. He was hard to block all day. I don't know if we had a guy like him last year that had both the quickness to rush the passer, and the power to stop the run like Smith does.

Another player that stood out today in one on one drills was Copeland Bryan. He was terror off of the edge today. He is so much quicker off of the ball right now. More so than last year. On two separate occasions, he got such a jump off of the ball, that he blew right by the Tackle trying to block him.

Yaniv Barnett and Lawrence Ball also showed some really nice quickness and pass rushing ability. Ball has really surprised me with his athleticism. He is quick. They both won a lot of individual battles in one on one drills.

The cool thing about the one on one drills were that there was so much intensity that a few scuffles broke out. A few guys ended up getting pancaked and then they started wrestling on the ground for a few seconds. Then got back in line and took another turn. One battle in particular was kind of funny when Lionel Dotson bull-rushed Brad Brittain, and would not stop coming hard at him, so Brittain did a WWF-like body slam on Dotson. Everyone went crazy, whooping and hollering. It was funny! But after that, it got really competitive. Peter Granielo was very solid. Joe Longacre, John Abramo, Bill Wacholz, and Dillon Hanson all did some really good things in one on one drills. They are all solid players. The O-line will be a much more athletic group this year. The strength gains by this group is very obvious. One on-looker said that someone gave "mean pills" to the O-Line. They were really battling the defensive line.

As far as the QB position, Adam Austin showed a few signs of fatigue today. After more than 100 snaps in the first practice, the ball was not flying out of his hand with the same zip today. But it's to be expected because he is human. Hopefully his arm will hold up all spring. Time will tell. With that being said he was still able to make some good plays on the defense during team drills. On one play Austin did a nice play-action to the left, before rolling to the right and finding Gerold Rodriquez all alone for a long TD strike. Austin also hooked up with Steptoe on a short curl route, that Steptoe turned into a long TD with his blazing speed.

The more I watch BJ Vickers the more I like him. What I like about him is that he is so dead serious during practice. You get the sense that he is trying to get better on every snap. I also like his shiftiness after the catch. I can't wait to see him in pads.

The play of the day went to Chris Henry, on a zone run play to the right, where he raced to the sidelines and stopped on a dime, made a nice cut and turned on the jets. Needless to say, he was gone. That's right, all 225lbs of him! I was recently told that he clocked 4.39 in the 40. That is ridiculously fast. He will be fun to watch this year.

Mike Bell has really shown that he is going to be more of a force this year in the passing game. He's running some really nice routes and showing some nice hands.

On the defensive side of the ball, Dane Krogstad wreaked havoc on the QB's by blitzing off of the edge today. He's going to be a tough match up for anyone with his size and speed. The defense as a whole plays a whole lot faster at this time. A lot of it is conditioning, but more is related to them grasping the defensive system better. They know where to go now, so there is more reaction and less thinking.

The real fun will start when the pads come on. The first few days have been successful. But the real evaluation starts when they put on the plastic. It should be fun.


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