The Cats were in full pads in the morning. Special teams worked a lot on kickoff coverage and returns. Previously, most of the work had been on punt and field goal teams.
In the 7-on-7's the Cats really worked the short passing game. No completion by Adam Austin or Richard Kovalcheck went for more than five yards, but they only tried to go longer on a couple of occasions.
Unofficially, Kovalcheck was 5-8 for 25 yards. Austin was 4-6 for 20 yards. Willie Tuitama was a perfect 4-4 for 40 yards.
The 11-on-11's saw the offense get a little more adventuresome, but they still did not get hog wild. Kovalcheck looked sharp completing 8-of-10 passes for 63 yards. On of those passes should have been intercepted as Darrell Brooks made a great read and leapt in front of a receiver, but was unable to hang onto the interception.
Austin was 3-7 for 25 yards. He had an impressive completion when he rifled a slant pass to Syndric Steptoe. He put a little something extra on the pass and threaded it the Steptoe.
Tuitama was 0-1, but was mostly relegated to handoffs and running plays.
Several young players are really turning some heads. Both Garrett Fields and Michael Shelton have played very well at DE. We heard rumblings that the coaches wanted to move Fields inside, but now the coaches may keep him outside. After a recent practice Mike Stoops said that he was the type of big defensive end that the team wants.
"He's like Marcus Smith," Stoops said noting that both players were both large and athletic. " Garret has done well. We'd like to bring along one young end."
Shelton has been turning heads of late due to his pass rushing ability. Shelton has shown great speed when trying to get to the passer. He is not great against the run, but has added some weight since arriving on campus and has a better shot of playing right away than many gave him credit for.
In the weight room Brandon Tatum tested off the charts, and is now getting it done on the field. At one time he was destined to play safety, but he has shown so much speed and versatility that he could see action at corner. Right now he is the team's emergency corner when players get nicked up and could take that role into the regular season.
While Lamon Means was recovering from a hamstring injury, Michael Johnson was getting the run at strong safety. Now that Johnson is dinged up, Means is back in the starter's spot. Expect the Cats to try and get both on the field. With Randy Sims out for a little while, the Cats could use a lot of nickel in an effort to get both on the field. Expect Marcus Hollingsworth to see a lot of snaps as the nickel back as well.
Sims' return is not known. His high ankle sprain is one of those injuries that has no set timetable. In his absence Sean Jones has been working with the first team, but he is no lock to start. Other players will figure into the battle, including Spencer Larsen when he returns sometime in September. Even when Sims returns he'll have his hands full holding off Larsen.
Brandyn McCall is still nursing a back injury. His return is not known but he is able to do some good work with trainers on the sidelines. Without him the Cats have several players making an impact. Brad Wood is one of the more reliable receivers. He's getting better at blocking, but still isn't great with the run. He is a player capable of making big plays down the field and Kovalcheck seems very comfortable throwing to him.
Travis Bell has also been a very good target. He has very nice hands and can get open. Like Wood, he is not a great blocker and needs to add more weight.
The guy who may be in the right place at the right time is Ryan Kilpatrick. As the fastest and strongest of the TE's, he has the most tools to work with. His biggest drawback is he is still learning the position. He was a high school running back and DE and does not have the pass catching of blocking background that other players have.
*Mike Bell returned to action Monday morning. He missed a few practices with a mild ankle injury.
*Matt Richards has returned to TE after a sting on the defensive line. He is a good blocker and could see the field.