Spirited practice for Wildcat football

The Wildcat football team had another solid day of practice. With a little over a week until the spring game both sides of the ball played very solid football. Despite practicing in shorts and shoulder pads, the team was aggressive and enthusiastic.

At this stage the position coaches are working on refining technique, not implementing a lot of new material. The defense worked a lot on hands drills and the bump-in-run aspect of coverage. Steven Bernstein, the DB's coach spent a lot of time on exact hand position and footwork. The unit work a lot on when to get in front of the receivers.

Both lines were on various sleds. The offensive line was on the traditional five-man sled working on various blocking angles. The defensive ends worked on popping with the hands on a sled where they could drive the dummies up. The interior defensive linemen worked on a sled, which forced them to stay low and keep a low center of gravity.

After team drills the quarterbacks, wide receivers and corner backs worked on one-on-one drills. The drills, which put the cornerbacks isolated without help against the receivers, went for the most part to the offense. Juan Valentine showed some ability when he came back to an under thrown ball on a deep route. Bobby Wade also showcased some skills when he tip-toed the sideline to reel in a 30-yard pass. Michael Jolivette showed why he is one of the Pac-10's best corners on a couple of plays. He had a great recovery on a deflection after slipping a bit and appearing to far away to make a play.

During the one-on-one drills the tight ends and running backs went up against the linebackers and safeties in their own passing drills. Justin Levasseur showed the ability to stretch the field catching a couple of deep balls. The junior caught one pass in traffic. All of the tight ends were used in deep patterns.

The teams were back in 7-on-7 "skellies". The offense was able to hit a lot of short and underneath patterns. The Wildcat offense had some success with the short patterns. Valentine took a slant and got into the secondary untouched and also caught a fade pattern for a touchdown. Slants and comeback patterns worked best. The offense tried to stretch the field a couple of times with limited success. Chatman had a couple of deflection, including one that he probably should have intercepted.

Despite not being in full pads, the 11-on-11 scrimmage was spirited. Several times the defensive team had to be warned not to "wrap-up" and grab. At the same time several offensive players were doing their best to initiate contact on their end.

The offense showed some interesting wrinkles including the option and some nice misdirection runs. The defense also showed their stuff. Justin Jochum gathered in a deflected pass and ran the interception a long way.

Mike Bell was held out of practice with an injury. Bell spent most of practice walking the field and riding a stationary bike.


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