Practice started with a lot of special teams work. The field goal kickers were sharp for the most part. Holder Danny Baugher handled a bad snap and Jason Bondzio did a nice job squirting a line drive through three potential blockers for an ugly, but good 40-yard field goal.
After that they broke up into positions. The backs, tight ends and receivers were really going at it in some 1-on-1 drills. There was a lot of popping going on.
The 11-on-11 team session was spirited to say the least. There was no tackling, but there was a lot of hitting. Several times the defense and the offense got into it after a hit by one or the other.
B.J. Vickers was the star of the session. The junior college transfer had six catches for approximately 75 yards. He could have had more, but stats were not kept after initial contact. With his size and speed, it is safe to assume he could break those for bigger gains.
"He'll turn some five-yarders into 70-yard touchdowns," Mike Canales said. "He has that kind of ability."
Vickers was not the only one getting it done. Mike Jefferson caught a deep ball for at least 40 yards and looked like he could have gone the distance after the catch. Jefferson also had a catch in the flats that he turned into about a 20-yard gain thanks to some shifty moves.. Newcomer Brandyn McCall hauled in one pass for 15 yards, while Syndric Steptoe had three catches.
Adam Austin looked sharp for most of the day. He completed his first seven passes and was 8-of-9 before throwing back-to-back interceptions. All told he was 16-23 for about 215 yards.
"I told people that he was better than any junior college quarterback we could have signed," Canales said. "Do you believe me yet?"
The first interception was just a bad read by Austin. Dramayne McElroy made a great play on the ball and raced for a decent gain. The next throw was tipped by the intended receiver and walk-on Robert Jones was in the right place to make the play.
Without tackling, it is hard to really tell how good the running game was. Chris Henry rushed three times for 20 yards, including a 15-yard run where he really showed off his speed as well as his power. Gilbert Harris went up the middle three times and looked as if he could have gained about 35. Mike Bell got the most work, rushing seven times for about 40 yards. He had one run where he bowled over McElroy as the whistle was blown, causing the defense to get fired up. Safety Lamon Means returned the favor a few plays later when he welcomed Paul Nichols to D-I ball by lowering his shoulder and knocking the unsuspecting fullback down.
*Spencer Larsen was in a full leg brace but went without crutches. He is out about six months with a knee injury.
*Former Wildcat passer Jason Johnson helped out by throwing to some receivers. The coaches wanted him to help take some pressure off of Adam Austin who is not used to throwing this much and had a tired arm by the end of practice.
*The father of lineman Joe Barresi was on hand to watch his son. Barresi is a freshman who graduated early from high school so he could get a jump start on his college career.